[EDITORIALS]School gangs demand attention

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[EDITORIALS]School gangs demand attention

We are shocked that a junior high school teacher said that the violent activities of so-called iljinhoe, or student gang members in secondary schools, have surpassed the level of adults’ organized criminal rings. We wonder what the government and schools have done to prevent school violence.
According to reports, 1,200 student gang members used tens of millions of won two years ago to rent a bar and host a dance party.
There, boys and girls engaged in games that they termed “sex machine,” performances depicting sex activities, and selecting partners. Such depraved activities are difficult to imagine.
Extortion is even more serious with the gang members. High schoolers extort money from ninth graders, and they, in turn take money from eighth graders. Those students then rob elementary students.
Gang members usually fail to graduate from middle or high schools and join organized criminal rings. Indeed, school gangs function as a training school for organized crime.
We think we can understand parents who emigrate to other countries so they can educate their children there.
The gangs are said to have been organized several years ago, and violent practices have been handed down year after year. We believe schools are responsible for the transfer of violence. Schools with gangs have ignored the violence because they were concerned about their reputation and bad publicity over punishments. They remained as spectators to school violence and did not report cases to authorities. So far they have only transferred gang members to other schools or let them voluntarily quit the school. This is why the gangs have endured.
Gangs are expanding throughout the nation, and the average age of members is going down.
We should not sit back and watch the problem believing that school violence is a temporary problem. The number of victims will grow.
Schools are not the only institutions responsible for the issue. The government, which recently declared war against school violence, should become more active in resolving the issue.
We ask the police to stage crackdowns on gangs and dissolve the groups. Students who are not deeply involved with gangs should be reprimanded and those who have committed crimes such as sexual violence should receive strict punishment.
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