School Violence Reports Going Up

April 21st, 2009 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL · 21 comments

Due to a new law mandating they be reported instead of covered up.

The situation of school violence is a serious one. Since the law on the prevention of school violence (학교 폭력 예방 및 대책에 관한 법률) went into effect last year requiring schools to report all incidents of violence without exception, the formerly hushed-up situation of school violence has been revealed.

On the 19th the Kyunghyang Shinmun published its analysis of school violence incidents in 2008 reported by every city and provincial office of education with the exception of Seoul, finding a total of 6,493. That is 43.3%, or 1,964, more than the 4,529 in 2007.

Of 15 offices of education, 11 — Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Ulsan, Gwangju, Daejeon, Kangwon, Chungcheongbuk-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Gyeongsangbuk-do, and Jeollanam-do — reported an increase in school violence incidents. Gwangju saw a seven-fold increase, from 98 to 697 in a single year.

The large increase in school violence is due to the new law’s reporting requirements, the newspaper concluded. The law includes not only instances of criminal assaults but also cyber violence, exposure to obscene material, threats, and sexual harassment. The law requires principals to report all incidents, nearly eliminating any instances of incidents being covered up.

A representative of the UIsan Office of Education concluded, “the change to the system has led to a violent fluctuation in the data, but before the change many educators were covering up incidents of violence to protect themselves.”

In the educational sphere there are calls for new policies based on further research and analysis in light of the new information on school violence.

Kim Hyeon-tae, school commissioner in Daegu, said, “to prevent school violence teachers deal actively with even the smallest incident, but the problem is beyond their ability. Teachers alone cannot deal with the problem, there is a need for systematic action by the government.” With so many of those teachers being women they face much difficulty in dealing with the situation by themselves, and cannot deal with it efficiently, she said.

Hong Yeon-su, representative of the Jeju Parent Teachers Association (참교육 제주학부모회), said, “recently we have formed a partnership with the governor to prevent school violence, but it is insufficient. There must be policies formed in the school themselves.”

Hong added, “it frequently happens that older students, who are supposed to be leaders of the younger students under the direction of the teacher, wind up bullying them. School violence must be dealt with by increasing implementation of human rights education, and specialized counselors being placed in every school.”

See the Metropolitician’s post The Phantom Menace for an impressive rant featuring one particularly shocking incident of violence committed by a teacher.


  • “The large increase in school violence is due to the new law’s reporting requirements, the newspaper concluded.”


    Jamie · April 21st, 2009 at 1:24 PM

  • Despite the increase it looks like crimes are still not getting reported and Korean teachers are still being granted impunity in abusing students:

    “Report: Serious Loopholes in Background Checks for Korean Teachers”

    BKW · April 21st, 2009 at 1:33 PM

  • We had a rare incident of violence between some of our academic and vocational high school students the other week. I highly doubt it got reported to anyone. What might help is a bit more supervision by certain homeroom teachers who have no idea what their kids are up to, or simply would rather not know.

    ‘exposure to obscene material’ – what the hell would they consider that to be and how is it necessarily violent?

    Yu Bumsuk · April 21st, 2009 at 3:03 PM

  • “The law requires principals to report all incidents, nearly eliminating any instances of incidents being covered up.”

    So funny, the law requires it so the problem is eliminated!! What a joke!!

    Arghaeri · April 21st, 2009 at 3:06 PM

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    School Violence Increasing Very Fast In Korea? You Think To Much Western Influence - Filipino-Korean Luv · April 21st, 2009 at 3:25 PM

  • School counselors? Can’t we just hit them harder with a stick?

    Jebeezers · April 21st, 2009 at 3:57 PM

  • is the violence amongst students or students against teachers or teachers against students?

    yy · April 21st, 2009 at 4:22 PM

  • #5 – we got a counsellor placed at our school last year. I have no idea what she does besides manning the library, but it sure doesn’t seem to be making any difference. If anything I think that problems with our vocational students and their attitudes have got worse.

    Yu Bumsuk · April 21st, 2009 at 4:45 PM

  • how come all the teacher-on-student horror storires i hear are from china? e.g. kid dies from excessive beating the day before his graduation from junior high (covered up & forgotten.) kid gets cheek ripped off from extreme slapping from teacher (goes home to recover.)

    ed · April 21st, 2009 at 7:03 PM

  • Arghaeri, it is a silly-sounding conclusion, but with a 43% jump in one year the law must be having some effect.

    YY, I think this article refers to student-on-student and student-on-teacher violence only.

    Korea Beat · April 21st, 2009 at 10:23 PM

  • Am I the only one who thinks teachers giving students a beat down is NOT a bad thing? My mother is a school teacher, and she has mad issues trying to reign in the students. I bet they students would be more in line if she could whoop their ass.

    But that said of the alleged outcry of student violence, my friend teaching at a hagwon said a mother overheard her son screaming in Korean, walked in, and placed on the desk a beating stick. She told my buddy: straighten him out.

    t_song · April 22nd, 2009 at 1:13 AM

  • Violence breeds violence. Kids lean by exsample. If ANYONE thinks teachers should have the right to inflict physical and/or emotional pain on a student who is under their control, well that is just f@#$ked up.

    Opening up a can of whoop-ass is the easy way out. It required virtually no thought process, and does more harm than good.

    If schools had more effective methods of actually dealing with these kids, if students and teachers were actually held accountable for their behavior, perhaps then things would change.

    Gillian · April 22nd, 2009 at 6:00 AM

  • Gillian is correct, hurting a child will just as likely cause them to turn around and do the same to others. Hitting them in anger results negatively, which is what most teachers do. Corporeal punishment can be useful, I think, but there is a methodology to it that is never used here. Teacher gets angry, hits student, student only learns to not make the teacher angry. The student doesn’t learn why their behaviour needs correction, nor do they learn correct behaviour.

    budthespud · April 22nd, 2009 at 7:23 AM

  • #11 and 12 – it’s an impossible thing to get accurate statistics for, but I think that most people would agree that the frequency of corporal punishment is generally decreasing in Korean schools. While it’s also an impossible thing to get accurate statistics for, it certainly does seem like the frequency of violence by students, especially girls, is increasing. Do these two trends not seem to suggest a flaw in your argument?

    Yu Bumsuk · April 22nd, 2009 at 8:12 AM

  • #13 I think the first flaw in your argument is, as you stated , a lack of statistics. There are more frequent reports in the papers about excessive teacher-student abuse. So even if abusive teacher incidents are decreasing, there is a general perception in society that this is increasing.

    Your second flaw is that there is a rise in the number of violent incidents involving students. There is a rise in the REPORTING of these incidents, due to new laws demanding all incidents be reported. Schools, principals, teachers, they all must report every single case now.

    budthespud · April 22nd, 2009 at 8:30 AM

  • The thing I love about this article is that the schools say the gov’t must do something about the problem, the parents say the schools need to do something, and the gov’t says…well…nothing. The education system in the States has this same particular problem: everyone blames someone else and does nothing. The education system here and at home will improve only when all three groups wake up and realise that they ALL have a responsibility and a stake in the outcome.

    redskinfankorea · April 22nd, 2009 at 9:48 AM

  • […] 21, 2009 in Korea education news | Tags: policy, public schools Korea Beat reports a huge jump in reports of school violence. It’s hard to say what the actualy […]

    Korea Beat: Reports of School Violence Up « Four Hours in Bed · April 22nd, 2009 at 10:22 AM

  • Budthespud,

    I’m sure we can both agree that the stats are unreliable, and probably will continue to be so despite whatever the government ‘requires’ schools to report. However, I do really think both of the trends I mentioned have been happening at the same time.

    That said, I think there are some other factors – also very difficult to quantify – that are also at work:

    – the amount of time parents are spending with or around their children.

    – the amount of time children go unsupervised.

    – an increase in the amount of teachers and administrators who would rather make everything *look* all right becuase they’re motivated not so much by genuine concern for students as they are about a smooth career progression.

    – and, as someone else mentioned above, an increase in the ‘it’s someone else’s primary responsibility’ attitude.

    Yu Bumsuk · April 22nd, 2009 at 11:58 AM

  • Have to agree about the parents factor, and the teachers presenting the happy face to things. But the other issue of violence and abuse in the schools, there is a culture that supports the current system, and has done so for many years. The dog teachers aren’t going to disappear now, in fact they don’t fire the worst offenders, just move them around a bit. When there are consistent serious consequences to these serious offences, then we can reasonably expect change.

    budthespud · April 22nd, 2009 at 4:50 PM

  • Research has shown that witnessing violence is just as likely to cause a violent reaction as actually being the recipient of said violence. So, even IF teacher-on-student is going down, and I highly doubt that it is, that doesn’t negate the original premise that violence breeds violence.

    Gillian · April 23rd, 2009 at 6:39 AM

  • Yeah I’m with Gillian here. If teachers are supposed to be role models, but can’t controll their emotions and solve their problems by hitting kids with a stick, then students can’t see any better means of dealing with their problems. Also the kids who study the least get hit the most by the teachers, so obviously something isn’t working there.

    There are some kids I know who can’t read English. They are in the 3rd grade of middle school, and have been studying English for at least three years. When they inevitably fail tests they get hit, when the better solution would be to try and teach them how to read. Currently their are extra classes at my school, but they are all offered to advanced kids.

    Jim · April 23rd, 2009 at 10:24 AM

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