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[Editorial] Attending school under the protection of a bodyguard

[Editorial] Attending school under the protection of a bodyguard

Posted December. 08, 2000 22:13,   


It is shocking to learn that a sixth grader who was bullied by classmates is attending school under the protection of a private bodyguard. The boy's guard is responsible for looking after him during breaks and when classes end. During classes, he waits outside. The fact that such drastic measures are necessary demonstrates the seriousness of bullying problems at our schools.

According to the Ministry of Education, 3,152 students from our primary, middle and high schools experienced bullying last year. The students who inflicted such pain on them numbered 5,182. This year's figures are expected to be similar, but parents and teachers are of the opinion that the reported cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Korea Youth Counseling Institute last fall conducted a survey of 2,400 students from primary, middle and high schools on their school life. Its findings indicated that 21.9 percent of the respondents saw school violence as their biggest problem, while 19.8 percent saw bullying as the most serious issue.

The recent increase in bullying in our schools has caused growing numbers of students to leave school or transfer to other schools. Some students had to undergo psychiatric treatment, and in the worst case, some resorted to suicide. Some parents even went so far as to emigrate to other countries where they hope their children will be free from such treatment.

The experts claim that the age-old problem of school bullying has recently become even worse. In the past, students with disabilities or poor academic results were often the victims of bullying by their classmates. Nowadays, exemplary students can also become victims. Faced with the prospect of bullying, students say that one should never boast of being rich or show any undue pride in one's abilities.

It is the most basic requirement for a proper school environment that students should be able to attend without any apprehension or worries. If students are worried about violence or bullying at the hands of their classmates, their academic performance will surely suffer. A student who has spent his adolescence always worrying about violence is unlikely to grow up to lead a fulfilling life. Unless this basic problem with our schools is resolved, the future of our education system is not bright.

It is the time for all parents to come forward and address this issue with the urgency it deserves, bearing in mind that their own children are potential victims of school bullying. Teachers should also play a proactive role by firmly expressing their will to resolve the problem. The improvement of the overall educational environment is also urgently needed.

Not only the families of the victims, but also the families of the culprits must join the cause. In this regard, the Seoul District Court's ruling Thursday is a very meaningful move in that it required the parents of the students who bullied their classmate to pay reparations to the victim.

It is important that students learn that they are accountable for their behavior and that they leave themselves open to punishment when they do harm to others.