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Teacher assaulted by her sixth-grade student

Posted July. 20, 2023 08:05,   

Updated July. 20, 2023 08:05


A sixth-grade boy attacked a female teacher in an elementary school in Seoul. The assault left her with a cast on her arm and a cut in the mouth, requiring three weeks of treatment. However, how the involved school and related education authorities reacted to the incident came under criticism for holding a school committee to protect teachers' authority to decide on disciplinary action against the accused student, lacking protective measures and support to compensate for the victimized teacher.

On Wednesday, the Seoul Teachers' Union said that a female teacher in charge of a class of sixth graders in a public elementary school in Yangcheon-gu, Seoul was assaulted by one of her students on June 30. As the teacher persuaded the boy with emotional and behavioral disorders to go to a consultation session, he threw things and swore at his homeroom teacher. The teacher shared a post on an online agora for school teachers, arguing that she was punched in the face and body and even harshly kicked lying on the floor. She wrote that he even threw scissors and a desk mirror.

Teachers’ unions criticized the school for showing a lukewarm reaction. The Seoul Teachers’ Union said in a statement issued on Wednesday, “Such incidents, once they happen, should be briefed on by schools to the office of education in their jurisdiction. In case of emergency, they are supposed to call the police or contact the police officers in charge of the schools in question. However, the involved school did not take any action at that time.”

Added to this, a school committee for the protection of teachers' authority was barely arranged to discuss disciplinary action on the accused student even 19 days after the incident took place. Normally, such school committee meetings are held within 10 days of any incident. Even as the problematic student consistently violated the teacher’s authority starting this semester, the school did not hold any meetings to handle the case. Jeong Hye-yeong, a spokesperson to the Seoul Teachers’ Union, said that schools often fail to open school committee meetings and sweep issues under the rug if parents of disruptive students threaten to file a lawsuit against their schools on charges of child abuse.

Given this, teachers’ unions emphasize that effective and practical measures should be put in place to protect teachers. The Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association argues that a revised version of the Special Act on the Improvement of Teachers’ Status and the Protection of Their Educational Activities needs to gain approval swiftly so that any disciplinary measures taken following grave violations of the teacher's authority can be recorded in problematic students’ school reports. There was a sharp rise in cases involving students injuring or assaulting their teachers that school committees deliberated to protect the teachers’ authority from 165 cases in 2018 to 347 cases last year.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com