Children in need
30,000 children are living in children’s homes in Japan
Each year in Japan, many children are removed from their original family homes because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, and/or maltreatment. They are placed in children’s homes through collaborative efforts among state-run agencies, the judicial system and social service agencies.
There are about 590 Children’s Homes in Japan and 30,000 children and adolescents living together between the age of 2 to 18 years old.
Growing number of abused children
Counter to a common misconception, children’s homes are not orphanages:90% of the children’s parents are alive. The most common reason for the children to be placed in the children’s homes is maltreatment by parents. The number of child abuse cases is growing, and data shows that 60% of children in these homes have suffered from abuse.
Children in need of attention not enough caregivers
Attachment disorders are common among these children. Many have developmental troubles, mental problems, and other health problems, and require special attention. Even if they do not have such problems, they often have very low self-esteem.
However, the children’s homes in general, with limited resources and staff, have difficulty looking after children with such complex needs as closely as they wish. Although the environment has been gradually improving, many children still live in large groups, often with more than 40 children living in one facility. The number of caregivers is far from enough, with one caregiver looking after more than 18 children on average.
Teenagers have to start to live on their own, but they are not ready
Usually, when they graduate from high school at the age of 18, they are expected to leave children’s homes and start to live on their own. (If they decide not to go to high school, they do so when they are 15 years old. If they drop out of high school, they are to leave the homes as well.) These young people usually start to work afterwards, but many of them do not have clear ideas of a “career” or of “What it is to work”. Therefore they often choose a job without thinking deeply enough, and simply pick a job with accommodation arrangements, or a job that school counselor or children’s home staff recommend. This tends to lead to a high attrition rate.
Very few go on to the higher education
Going on to the higher education is not easy for them either. While 80% of high school graduates go on to universities, colleges and other higher education in Japan, only about 20% of high school graduates from children’s homes do so. And even if they do, it is difficult for them to continue studying while working in order to finance their living and tuition, and half of them end up dropping out.
Teenagers without safety nets
When these children are to leave children’s homes (usually at the age of 18), not many are equipped with enough mental strength or the necessary social skills such as housekeeping, cooking, managing household budget and renting apartments. Of course this is the same for other 18 year olds who leave homes to live by themselves. The biggest difference, through, is that for the latter, if they fail to manage their household budget, they can turn to their parents for advice and their parents may lend them some to get by. On the other hand, without parents to relay on, adolescents that have grown up in the children’s homes cannot afford to fail. If they fail to manage their budgets, they have to ask a friend to lend them money or they turn to consumer finance, which often leads to a vicious cycle.
When they face trouble living by themselves, for example at work, with friends or partners, or with money, they easily isolate themselves and have no one talk to while facing difficulties. Without the safety net that other teenagers usually have, i.e., parents, some adolescents turn to gangsters (Yakuza), sex industries, homelessness, and, in the worst case, suicide.
We are always here to help you!
We at B4S are committed to providing them with knowledge and social skills to help these young people survive when they leave homes. More importantly, we believe that it is necessary to give them a sense of security the knowledge that we are always here to help them when needed.