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Teen Website Promotes Student Rights

Posted April. 18, 2006 03:01,   


“How could a teacher beat a student like this? I just can’t believe this.”

Kim (aged 14), a first year student in a junior high school in Daejeon, visited an internet site for a signature-collecting campaign against hair style restrictions and received a huge shock.

Kim said, “I now have a new perspective of teachers,” after viewing 200 or so pictures posted on this site which he had become aware of by someone writing the address of the site on a classroom board.

The “Nationwide Network for Students’ Human Rights Protection,” which is comprised of students, parents, and teachers, opened this site for teenagers to achieve the abolishment of hair style restrictions in schools and to promote students’ human rights. The aim is to bring about hair style liberalization through signature-collecting campaign and gatherings as, despite recommendations given in May last year for “hair liberalization” by the Ministry of Education and the National Human Rights Commission, schools did not follow up by acting on the recommendations.

On this site are pictures of students with only patches of hair left, clearly intentionally cut this way, pictures of teachers cutting students’ hair, and pictures of students with so-called “delinquent” hair styles receiving collective punishment.

A large number of these pictures are difficult to prove of their authenticity and are suggestive, and some even have the actual names of the teachers and schools involved in the pictures, thus raising criticism of human rights violation also.

Under a picture titled “Suwon T High School,” which shows students with dark bruised thighs due to corporal punishment, there are abusive and insulting replies targeting the teachers.

Other than these, there are more than 100 pictures of students with their hair cut against their will by teachers.

One official from this organization explained, “Collecting and expressing teenagers’ thoughts through the internet is probably one of the best ways to communicate their thoughts to the authorities,” and added, “The pictures also have the advantage of showing exactly how serious the violation of basic rights is in the actual educational fields.”

However, some oppose the site, saying, “Due to the characteristic of the internet, which has no way to confirm the authenticity of some of the pictures, posting of overly suggestive pictures and writing actual names of those involved should be restrained.”

The organization is planning to hold a large-scale offline protest meeting against hair restriction on May 14, and has also announced that it will start to campaign for education law amendment for the abolishment of human rights-violating school regulations as soon as the signature collection campaign is over.

Ki-Jin Lee doyoce@donga.com