Support for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students, by Fukui Prefecture
Fukui Prefecture has launched the “Fukui Prefecture Hikikomori and Truancy Support and Information” website, which is geared towards hikikomori (a person suffering from social withdrawal), truant students, and concerned family members; the site consolidates all relevant information regarding the various issues. Each city and town started up its designated consulting service counter, for those struggling to establish a place for family gathering or where one can feel at home; visitors can find a catalog of recent news and contact information for public and private support groups. Associates with the services are eagerly standing by to connect with anyone looking for advice.
According to an investigation result published by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) on October 17, the number of truant students in public elementary, junior high, and senior high schools in the prefecture, during 2018, totalled to 1,054 students. According to the national survey, there was an estimated total of one million hikikomori, with ages ranging between 15 and 64. In the Fukui Prefecture Hikikomori Regional Center (located in Fukui City), within one year, there have been over one thousand cases that received consultation services.
The support groups in each are of the prefecture set up a system to inform concerned persons and families, on the steps of how to reconnect with society. In conjunction with the establishment of the consultation service website, each city and town’s health and welfare bureau will be designated for the services. Including prefectural institutions, a total of 34 places are listed on the site. Details and contact information of 13 public and private support groups, such as nonprofit organizations (NPO) who open their free space for family gatherings or a personal safe space, and alternative schools, are gathered and displayed on the site. Information on various events and lectures within the prefecture are also listed and updated as needed.
A Fukui Prefecture Disability and Social Welfare department secretary managing the site, Shigehiro Kato, explained the current situation, “There are many cases where those afflicted and concerned family members are heavily burdened with anxiety for many years, unable to confide their troubles with anyone.” Up to now, many are unaware of the consultation services, with many afflicted people and families often saying something like, “I wish I had used these services sooner.” Secretary Kato said, “Taking advice from an outside party also means they are taking steps towards improvement. I wish more people to visit the site, join the various events, and reach out to connect for advice.