Go to contents

US action on child molestation

Posted February. 10, 2012 08:07,   


In July last year, the U.K. allowed teachers to use "reasonable force" on students for the first time in 13 years. This is different from corporal punishment, however. Teachers were allowed to stop students in a physical fight or attacking a teacher. The "no touch" policy introduced in 1998 banned physical contact between teachers and students. This was aimed at preventing sexual molestation lawsuits. Teachers avoided touching a student`s body to correct posture in physical education classes and patting good students on the shoulder.

After two teachers at a Los Angeles elementary school were arrested for child sex abuse, the city`s education authorities replaced the school`s entire 150-member staff this week, from the principal to the gardeners and janitors. The city said the school`s faculty and staff failed to protect students. One of the teachers accused of child molestation had been arrested in 1994 after a female student reported him to police, but was released due to lack of evidence. The school was tipped off about suspected child abuse four years ago but failed to act.

U.S. law comes down hard on child molesters through maximum penalties. California requires those convicted of child molestation twice or more to undergo either physical or chemical castration. When teachers have face-to-face consulting with students, they keep their office doors open to avoid sex abuse claims. Despite this, however, loopholes for child molesters remained. In 2010, the elementary school that U.S. President Barack Obama`s two daughters were attending was discovered to have a teacher who molested children.

In Korea, education offices found 58 teachers who committed sex crimes against juveniles from 2005 until August last year. Half of the teachers molested students in their own schools. Twenty-six teachers received light disciplinary action such as suspension, salary reduction and reprimand. In contrast, Los Angeles took the drastic measure of replacing the entire staff of the school in question. After Korean police announced that they would punish teachers who neglect school violence, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union protested the plan by blaming police for passing all responsibilities solely onto teachers. Teachers see their students every day and thus cannot shirk responsibility for preventing school violence.

Editorial Writer Lee Hyeong-sam (hans@donga.com)