[EDITORIALS]Student ‘boot camp’ a bad idea

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[EDITORIALS]Student ‘boot camp’ a bad idea

The Ministry of Justice has plans to rehabilitate students placed on probation for school violence ―including members of Iljinhoe, a student gang ― by subjecting them to military training at a “boot camp.” Under the ministry’s plan, 1,000 student offenders will be sent to a camp where they will undergo two or three days of military survival training to “refine their minds.”
This reminds us of the Samcheong Education Corps, the social purification project of the 1980s, and we question whether it will produce good results. There is the possibility that the program will violate the students’ human rights. If they are sent to the camp in a group, it means their involvement in violence will be exposed. This will make the more sensitive students feel ashamed. Just as adult inmates learn new criminal skills in prison, there is a strong chance that the students at camp will learn new methods of organized violence. If these students need group-oriented rehabilitation, it would be more appropriate for them to participate in social work. At a time when democratization and autonomy are flourishing in all areas of society, imposing an idea based on military culture will only have bad effects.
Since school violence emerged as a major social issue, government ministries have competed to produce countermeasures. But it is difficult to root out violence by treating the symptoms. The Education Ministry’s plan to encourage students to report on Iljinhoe is immature. Under that plan, schools, headmasters and teachers who write many reports will be cited for their contributions. Dividing teachers from students in that way does not help education. The same applies to the idea of installing closed-circuit cameras in schools. That would probably reduce the cases of group teasing, beating and extortion, but it would have the side effect of limiting the freedom of the good students ―who are in the majority ―by monitoring and controlling their activity. We should not turn schools, which should be the freest places in the world, into prisons.
It is important to control school violence and sternly punish students who engage in it, but we should do so through showing children affection and attention at our homes and schools. Counselors should be assigned to every school, and they should gather information on school violence. It is also urgent to establish a system under which counseling is provided both to victims and to offenders.
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