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.
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