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The nature of peer support through Japanese children’s perspectives on the

experiences of being peer supporters
by
Hideo Kato

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences

University of Surrey

2016




Abstract

This thesis explores the nature of peer support activities in Japan through the experiences of young Japanese peer supporters in a secondary school. Peer support is an approach that builds on the helpfulness and altruism characteristic of friendship by extending it beyond friendship to the wider peer group. Although moral and citizenship education has been carried out for over one hundred years in Japanese schools, the concept of peer support programmes in the educational system is relatively new in Japan. Peer support approaches have been developing in Western countries for over 20 years but it is only in the past 10 years that there has been a growing interest in these methods in Japan. In this research, qualitative methods had been used to gather more in-depth information about a phenomenon. Participants, aged 13 to 14 years, were drawn from a secondary school in Osaka, Japan. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and data were analysed using Thematic Analysis, aiming to explore their lived experiences of being peer supporters. Four main themes emerged from the peer supporters’ lived experiences; 1) Disconnection between training and practice, 2) Perceived generation gap, 3) Self-improvement, and 4) Cultural mismatch. These specific themes greatly assisted to explore the unrevealed children’s views, some critical issues of peer support practices in Japan and some confirmed the findings of quantitative studies (prior studies). A number of the findings were novel and also these results will provide opportunity to explore further children’s understandings of peer support programmes in school. In conclusion, some practical recommendations (e.g. “reform of the peer support training session” and “new classification for Japanese style peer support”) for the peer support activities are suggested in terms of the findings.


Key words:

peer support, bullying, counselling skills, social skills, Japanese style peer support.



Summary
This thesis adopts a qualitative approach to explore the nature of peer support activities in Japan through the experiences of young Japanese peer supporters in a secondary school. Peer support, a relatively new concept in Japan, is an approach that builds on the helpfulness and altruism characteristic of friendship by extending it beyond friendship to the wider peer group. This often encourages children to offer other children strong emotional and behavioural support. Since the peer support approach had been introduced to Japan, several peer support practices have been developed as unique methods, which were suited to Japanese educational and traditional systems.
Although peer support has been quite extensively researched in the West using both quantitative and qualitative methods, which explored children’s’ views and their behaviours, Japanese researchers mainly employed quantitative approaches with various assessment sheets and questionnaires to examine how peer support systems have a positive influence on children (e.g. the improvement of their social skills and the satisfaction levels in school life). In short, very little Japanese research explored the experiences of young people who practiced peer support by employing qualitative methods that captured their thoughts and feelings in depth. This resulted in a very limited knowledge about children’s own views and insights, including their views on the peer support systems, their difficulties, feelings and motivations for the peer support activities. In this vein, the present study has contributed to deepening the knowledge in these unrevealed research topics and issues.
Participants, aged 13 to 14 years, were drawn from a secondary school in Osaka, Japan. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and data were analysed using Thematic Analysis, aiming to explore their lived experiences of being peer supporters.
Four main themes emerged from the peer supporters’ lived experiences; 1) Disconnection between training and practice, 2) Perceived generation gap, 3) Self-improvement, and 4) Cultural mismatch. These specific themes greatly assisted to explore the unrevealed children’s views, some critical issues of peer support practices in Japan and some confirmed the findings of quantitative studies (prior studies).
For example, one of the critical findings highlighted that there were major gaps and disconnections between peer supporters’ actual activities and their training sessions, which have not been reported as an issue in Japanese peer support studies. In short, even though Japanese peer supporters received the same style training sessions (Rogers model; person-centred approach), they did not manage to apply the person-centred attitudes for their activities. In this vein, peer supporters were mainly involved in activities at group and whole-school support levels (e.g. greeting campaign, cleaning campaign, and fund-raising activity), due to the educational needs and cultural backgrounds. This implied that some peer support activities in Japan seemed to be critically different from the western style peer support approach, which was based on the person-centred approach.
A number of the findings were novel and also these results will provide opportunity to explore further children’s understandings of peer support programmes in school. In conclusion, some practical recommendations (e.g. “reform of the peer support training session” and “new classification for Japanese style peer support”) for the peer support activities are suggested in terms of the findings. It appears that several peer support practices had been developed as unique methods; thus, further studies, employing a qualitative approach are required to gain the deeper understanding of peer support practices, which contribute to the improvements and developments of its practices in Japan.

Signed declaration

This thesis and the work to which it refers are the results of my own efforts. Any idea, data, image or text resulting from the work of others are fully identified as such within the work and attributed to their originator in the bibliography or in footnotes. This thesis has not yet been submitted in whole or in part for any other academic degree or professional qualification.



Name: Hideo Kato

Signature:

Date: 11 May 2016

Table of Contents

Summary ……………………………………………………………………………… 2

Signed declaration………………………………………………………………….. 5

Table of contents……………………………………………………………………. 6

Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………….… 12

1. CHAPTER ONE Introduction........................................................................ 13

1.1 Background to the research…………………………………………………… 13

1.2 Moral education and citizenship in Japan…………………………………... 21

1.3 The discovery of peer support………………………………………………… 25

1.4 History of peer support…………………………………………………………. 28

1.5 Forms of peer support in the West…………………………………………… 29

1.6 Forms of peer support in the East (Japan)…………………………………. 33

1.7 The features of peer support in Japan……………………………………….. 37

1.8 Comparison of peer support used in the West and Japan……………… 42

1.9 Peer support activities in a lower secondary school…………………….…. 46

1.9.1 Cleaning the local community (Volunteer activity)………….….… 47

1.9.2 Greeting campaign……………………………………………………... 49

1.9.3 Fund-raising activities………………………………………………… 51

1.9.4 Anti-bullying drama………………………………………………..,….. 52

1.9.5 Nationwide school summits………………………………………….. 53

1.9.6 School summits in the city-wide level ……………………………… 55

1.9.7 School summits in school-based level..………………………….… 56

1.9.8 “Soji” (cleaning own classroom and school)……………………… 57

1.10 Training of peer support in Japan………………………………………………59

1.10.1 Training for children – peer supporter - …………………………... 59

1.10.2 Training for adults -peer support trainer-………………………… 64

1.11 Summing up………………………………………………………………………. 66

2. CHAPTER TWO Literature review……………………………………………. 64

2.1 Overview…………………………………………………………………………… 64

2.2 Theoretical perspectives………………………………………………………… 68

2.2.1 Carl Rogers’ Person-Centred theory of counselling……………. 69

2.2.2 Salmivalli’s participant role theory ………………………………….. 72

2.2.3 Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of human development …. 75

2.2.4 Hofstede’s theory of cultural dimensions …………………………. 79

2.3 Search strategies………………………………………………………………… 80

2.4 Evaluating the impact of peer support: studies in the West…………….. 84

2.4.1 The perspective of peer supporters……………………………….. 84

2.4.2. Peer support against bullying……………………………………… 87

2.4.3 The impact on school climate………………………………………. 94

2.5 Evaluating the impact of peer support: studies in Japan………………… 95

2.5.1 The indifference of bystanders to bullying………………………. 95

2.5.2 The impact on peer supporters…………………………………….. 101

2.5.3 The impact on the wider peer group………………………………. 106

2.5.4 The impact on the whole school……………………………………. 108

2.6 The lack of qualitative studies in Japanese peer support………………… 109

2.7 The cultural issues in Japanese peer support ………………………….…. 114

2.7.1 Influences of collectivism in peer support……………………….. 114

2.7.2 “Counselling model view” and “Educational model view” …… 117

2.7.3 Peer group influence…………………………………………………. 119

2.7.4 “Direct supporting activities” and “Indirect interventions”…… 122

2.8 Peer support as a citizenship-oriented approach……..…………………… 126

2.9 Summing up and research gap………………………………………………….. 128

2.10 Research questions……………………………………………………………… 131

3. CHAPTER THREE Research methodology……………………………………. 133

3.1 Background…..……………………………………………………………………. 133

3.2 Theoretical underpinnings………………………………………………………. 135

3.2.1 Phenomenology and Hermeneutics………………………………… 135

3.2.2 Ideography………………………………………………………………. 137

3.3 The relevance of IPA to Japanese Education………………………………... 138

3.4 Overview of Thematic Analysis ……………………………………………… 139

3.5 Research setting……………………………….…………………………………. 139

3.6 Research sample and method………………………………………………….. 141

3.7 Access and recruitment………………………………………………………… 143

3.8 Research tools……………………………………………………….………….…. 143

3.9 Pilot study…………………………………………………………………………….144

3.10 Interviews (for main study)……………………………………………………....146

3.11 Transcript, data analysis and NVivo…………………………………………. 147

3.12 Ethical considerations………………………………………………………….. 148 3.12.1 Informed consent………………………….……………………………150 3.12.2 Minimization of potential harm/deprivation of benefits……….. 150 3.12.3 Confidentiality and protection of privacy………………………… 151

4. CHAPTER FOUR Results………………….…………………………………….. 153

4.1 Overview……………………………………………………………………………. 153

4.2 Disconnection between training and practice……………………………….. 154

4.2.1 Person-centre approach vs. speaking in front of others.............154

4.2.2 Group activates vs. one-to-one peer support.............................. 156

4.2.3 Lack of empathy and judgemental attitudes……………………. 158

4.2.4 Disapproval of emotional problems………………………………. 161

4.3 Perceived generation gap …………………..………………………………….. 162

4.3.1 Teachers’ views vs. pupils’ views……………………………......... 163

4.3.2 Pupils’ closeness and Teachers’ blindness................................. 165

4.3.3 Friendships among pupils and

negative attitudes toward teachers..……………….…..………... 166

4.4 Self-improvement………………………………………………………………… 170

4.4.1 Overcoming own weakness………………………………….............170

4.4.2 Improving own life …………………………….................................. 172

4.4.3 Dealing with pressure………………………….………......................174

4.4.4 Dealing with Time management ……………………………………. 175

4.5 Cultural mismatch………………………………………………………….......... 178

4.5.1 Aims to create a supportive environment………......................... 178

4.5.2 Believing other pupils’ potentials……………............................... 181

5 . CHAPTER FIVE Discussion………………….…………………………………. 183

5.1 Overview…………………………………………………………………………… 183

5.2 Disconnection between peer support trainings and actual practices.…. 185

5.2.1 Group activities vs. Person centred approach…………………. 186

5.2.2 Lack of empathy and Judgemental attitudes…........................... 190

5.2.3 Disapproval of emotional problems…………………………..…. 193

5.3 Perceived generation gap……………………………………………………… 194

5.3.1 Teachers’ view vs. pupils’ views…………………………………….195

5.3.2 Pupils’ closeness and Teachers’ blindness……………………… 195

5.3.3 Friendships among pupils and Negative attitudes

toward teachers………………………………………………………. 196

5.3.4 Roles of peer support and cultural backgrounds………………… 198

5.4 Self-improvement………………………………………………………………….. 202

5.4.1 Overcoming own weakness………………………………………….. 203

5.4.2 Improving own life……………………………………………………… 206

5.4.3 Dealing with Pressure…………………………………………………. 207

5.4.4 Dealing with Time management……………………………………… 209

5.5 Cultural mismatch………………………………………………………………… 213

5.5.1 Aim to create supportive environments……………………………. 214

5.5.2 Believing other pupils’ potential……………………………………. 217

5.5.3 Cultural mismatch……………………………………………………… 219

6. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions and practical implications………………….. 225

6.1 Overview………………………………………………………………………….. 225

6.2 Summary of the findings………………………………………………………… 225

6.2.1 Disconnection between training and practice” ……………...... 225

6.2.2 “Perceived generation gap”..........................……………………….. 227

6.2.3 “Self-improvement”……………………….…………………………. 228

6.2.4 “Cultural mismatch”……..………………………………………….. 230

6.3 Summary of the key issues ……..…………………………………….………… 231

6.3.1 The key issues……….……………………………………..………… 231

6.3.2 The distinctive nature of Japanese peer support ……..…..……. 234

6.4 Practical implications for peer support schemes in Japan.……, 237

6.4.1 Suggestion (Information) for Japan Peer Support

Association (JPSA) and educational authorities……………….. 238

6.4.2 Suggestion (Information) for JPSA and researchers…. 238

6.4.3 Information for school teachers……………………….... 239

6.5 Directions for future research…………………………………………………… 240

6.5 Limitations of the study……………………….………………………………… 241

6.6 Final remarks……………………………………………………………………… 242
References……………………………………………………………………………. 242
Tables

Table 1.1: Violence and property damage in primary school in 2012………. 17

Table 1.2: Violence and property damage in lower secondary school in 2012 17

Table 1.3: School bullying in 2013 (Tokyo)……………………………………….. 18

Table 1.4: School non-attendance in 2013 (Tokyo)……………………………… 19

Table 1.5: Breakdown of peer support in secondary schools and colleges… 45

Table 1.6: Breakdown of peer support in primary and secondary school …. 45

Table 1.7: The qualities of a good peer supporter………………………………. 60

Table 1.8: JPSA’s training schedule for peer supporter…………….…………. 61

Table 2.1: Three counselling schools and major six counselling approaches 70

Table 2.2: The percentages of children and adolescents in the different

participant role………………………………………………………………… 74

Table 2.3: The percentages of children and adolescents in the different

participant role in Japan……………………………………………………… 75

Table 2.4: Keywords and Databases used…………………………………………. 81

Table 2.5: Search in Japanese database…..……………………………………….. 82

Table 2.6: Articles of Japan Peer Support Association………………………….. 83

Table 2.7: Percentage of boys who report being bullied and bullying others

in Novembers and June………………………………………………………. 88

Table 2.8: Potential users’ comments on the peer support service……..……. 88

Table 2.9: Users’ comments on the peer support service....……………………. 89

Table 2.10: Silence in bullied children……….……………………………………… 99

Table 2.11: When you are in trouble, to whom you tell about your problem. 100

Table 2.12: The training schedule for peer supporter………….………………. 105

Table 2.13: Type of research methods in Japanese peer support studies … 110

Table 2.14: The summary of data collection methods in Qualitative studies 111

Table 3.5 : Research schedule……………………………………………………… 140

Table 5.1: The qualities of a good peer supporter………………………………. 188

Table 6.1: Key features of peer support in the western nations and Japan.. 230

Figures

Figure 1.1: Incidence of school bullying in Tokyo ……………………………… 17

Figure 1.2: Percentage of school non-attendance in the last 10 years……… 18

Figure 1.3: Forms of peer support and support levels in the West …………. 31

Figure 1.4: Forms of peer support and support levels in the East (Japan)…. 34

Figure 1.5: Support levels in peer support schemes……………………………. 44

Figure 1.6: Four step cycle training model…………….…………………………. 63

Figure 2.1: Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of human development……. 76

Figure 2.2: The percentage of bystanders in bullying…………………..………. 96

Figure 2.3: The percentage of pupils who intervene in bullying………………. 96

Figure 2.4: Relationship scale with Peer support programme……………….. 102

Figure 2.5: Self-esteem scale with Peer support programme…………….……103

Figure 2.6: GHQ scale with Peer support programme………………………….. 103

Figure 2.7: Willingness to support others………………………………………… 124

Figure 2.8: Emotional aspects for caring others…………………………………. 124

Figure 2.9 Peer support practices and their necessary skills………………… 127

Figure 3.1: Peer supporters’ duties and activities throughout the year………141

Figure 4.1: Super-ordinate themes and sub-themes…….……………………… 151

Figure 6.1: Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of child development……… 231

Figure 6.2: Support levels in peer support schemes………………….……….. 232

Figure 6.3: Figure 2.15; Peer support practices and their necessary skills … 234

Appendixes

Appendix 1: Information letter (consent form to pupils)………………………. 255

Appendix 2: Information letter (consent form to the Head teacher).………... 256 Appendix 3: Consent form to Parents/Guardian………………………………… 257

Appendix 4: Information letter (to pupils) in Japanese………………..………. 258

Appendix 5: Information letter (to the Head teacher) in Japanese………….. 259

Appendix 6: Information letter (to Parents/Guardian) in Japanese…………. 260

Appendix 7: Risk Assessment…..…………………………………………………. 261

Appendix 8: Timeline of year 2012 (July) - 2015 (January).…………………... 262

Appendix 9: Interview questions in English…………………………..………... 263

Appendix 10: Interview questions in Japanese.………………………..………. 265

Appendix 11: Interview transcript; Participant 1 (a 14 years old girl)……..... 267

Appendix 12: Interview transcript; Participant 9 (a 14 year old boy)………… 279

Appendix 13: Interview transcript in English Full (14 participants)……..... 268

Appendix 14: Example of summary of Japanese annals of peer support…. 254
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I wish to take this opportunity to give enormous thanks to my supervisors, Dr Debbie Cooke, Professor Helen Cowie and Professor Molly Courtenay for their great supervisions and encouragements.
I would like to thank Professor Ikejima and the members of Japanese Peer Support Association, who have supported me to conduct my research in Japan.
I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues (PhD students), who have supported me in several ways.
I owe a special gratitude to my parents for their support and inspirations. This work could not have been accomplished without the love, support and patience of my family.
Finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my mentor, Dr Daisaku Ikeda who gave a strong influence to me to work for children’s well-being.

CHAPTER 1

Introduction
1.1 Background to the research

This thesis explores the nature of peer support activities in Japan through the experiences of young Japanese peer supporters in a secondary school. I am a teacher of 6 years’ experience, and specialise in supporting children with special learning needs and emotional difficulties. Early in my career, I was aware of children’s difficulties, both emotional and social. For example, some were bullied, rejected and excluded from social groups. These situations had a bad effect not only on the individual child, but also on the whole class. Toward the end of my role as a teacher, I met a senior member of the Japanese Peer Support Association (JPSA), which is an organisation of practitioners, teachers, and researchers who tackle children’s emotional issues by encouraging children to help their peers. These peer-led educational activities encourage children to support peers who have emotional and behavioural issues. This was a completely new approach to me as I had always thought it is my responsibility to help my students as their teacher, and it had not occurred to me that children had the potential to offer the other children strong emotional support. The present research was inspired by the experience of working with members of the Japanese Peer Support Association (JPSA), firstly as an interpreter, and more recently as a researcher.


Although moral and citizenship education has been carried out for over one hundred years in Japanese schools, the concept of peer support programmes in the educational system is relatively new in Japan. Peer support approaches have been developing in Western countries for over 20 years but it is only in the past 10 years that there has been a growing interest in these methods in Japan (Cowie & Smith 2010). As a part of the national curriculum, moral education or ‘Dou-toku’ (literally “the path of virtue”) has been taught in schools for more than hundred years (McCullough, 2008). However, this form of peer support activity has not been carried out in school by teachers. Subsequently, children have not empowered students to undertake this role either. However, children may independently undertake peer support in the form of emotional and behavioural friendships, which may empower other children.
During the last decade, peer support has begun to be integrated under the umbrella of the moral and citizenship education in Japan. Peer support is very flexible in its use of activities and broadly relates to existing Japanese moral approaches and activities that encompass behavioural and emotional support. In a sense, peer support itself is the umbrella term, which allows its activities to suit various school needs, depending on the situations (James, 2014). This means that peer support programmes can be adopted to suit individual practices within schools that incorporate cultural and moral differences.
To a large extent, the willingness to develop peer support methods in Japan has arisen from a deepening concern about the increase in social and emotional difficulties currently experienced by Japanese children within the educational system (Nakano, 2004). Evidence suggests, that, bullying, school non-attendance (school refusal), school violence, are related to insufficient interpersonal relationships among, which are caused by their poor ability to communicate with others children (Nakano & Sato, 2013; Edahiro et al., 2012; Igarashi, 2011; Makino, 2011, 2009; Miyahara & Koizumi, 2009; Katsuya & Kawamura, 2004; Iida, 2003; Emura & Okayasu, 2003; Fujieda & Aikawa, 2001). For example, Nakano and Sato (2013) explored the relationships between children‘s perceived quality of school life (the level of school adjustment) and their social skills among the lower secondary school children aged 12 – 15 years (256 boys and 273 girls). These researchers found that children who have a lower level of school adjustment, showed significantly lower level of social skills (pro-social behaviour, hesitation to take action, and managing aggressive behaviours) over the children who have a higher level of school adjustment. This implies that children, who have a lower level of social skills, tend to have difficulties developing relationships with others. The studies indicate that there is a complex set of interactions amongst these characteristics. Of course, we cannot assume that there is a direct causal link between lack of social skills and relationship difficulties. However, due to cultural and educational backgrounds, interrelationships among children (peers) seem to be related to their social skill levels in Japan where this is strongly influenced by the collectivism. In short, it seemed to be important for children to keep good peer relationships in their group and societies; in this sense, their social skills seemed to play a critical role in that purpose.
In this vein, several studies (Harada, 2011; Otsui & Tanaka-Matsumi, 2010; Arihara et al., 2009; Emura, 2008; Enai et al, 2006), designed to explore the relationship between children’s social skills and their peer relations in school, have demonstrated similar results as other studies have descried above. In this vein, Nakahara (2012) summarised that various causes seemed to operate together to cause the current educational issues. He suggested that the issues need to be tackled from various points, which are education at school, at home and in local society. In terms of education at school, many researchers appear to place emphasis on children’s level of school adjustment. Thus, researchers and educators have paid attention to Social and Emotional Learning programmes as a prevention method against such issues as bullying, school violence and non-attendance.
Peer support, a relatively new concept in Japan, is an approach that builds on characteristics of friendship such as helpfulness and altruism and extends it beyond individual friendships to the wider peer group. Children seem to benefit from receiving and delivering peer support activities; emotional and behavioural support, development of social skills, and enhancing altruistic attitudes and behaviours. It appears to be an effective approach to tackle the issues described (e.g. bullying, non-attendance at school, and school refusal); hence these approaches have been developed and implemented in recent years in Japan (Cowie & Kurihara, 2009).
Among developed countries, Japan is generally considered as a safe country due to its low crime rate, which attracts other nations’ attention (Miyazawa, 2013; Bayley, 1991; Braithwaite, 1989). Japanese people generally have a reputation for their politeness and good social behaviour. In Japan, the pressure to conform provides a sense of security. However, this high self-control may conceal deeper tensions since it also generates an infinite number of repressive rules. These act as a strong force restraining people from committing crime (Komiya, 1999). In terms of the school education system, moral education for children (which is called ‘Dou-toku’, see section 1.2) has always been important in Japanese society, as a means of enabling children to gain appropriate social skills and a sense of what is right and wrong.
However, in recent years, there has been a reported increase in emotional and behavioural difficulties in Japanese youth, as suggested by, for example, The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education. This Board has conducted annual surveys about children’s behaviours and school situations in both primary and secondary schools. All the state schools in the Tokyo area (1304 primary and 631 lower secondary schools) participated in these compulsory surveys. According to the data collected over the last 5 years, it is evident that children’s poor social and communication skills are perceived by the authorities as a serious issue. This in itself is not evidence that rates of bullying and violence have actually increased. These surveys, however, showed that violence towards teachers, bullying and damage to property in lower secondary school have involved a considerable number of pupils (see figures and tables below). Also, in 2013, a substantial number of schools conducted their own surveys, or one to one interviews (between children and teachers), as a means by which to provide appropriate educational support.


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