[LETTERS to the editor]Reform sex education

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[LETTERS to the editor]Reform sex education

Recently, the whole nation was shocked by reports of the sexual abuse of elementary school students by their peers. Several rapes had occurred in an elementary school in Daegu since 2006. The children involved, perpetrators and victims included, were said to number more than 100.

This deplorable incident was first started by male students at the school who were obsessed with pornography and even younger ones, acting under threat by their seniors. Later, middle and high school students got involved as well.

In order to prevent child sexual assaults, we first have to look into our reality, especially in terms of sex education. Sex education in schools started two decades ago using a teacher’s manual based on Confucian sexual norms combined with Western style sex education.

But sex education does not address what teenagers wish to learn about sex. Schools do not have counselors specialized in sex education. Accordingly, teenagers are reluctant to reveal their sexual problems to their sex education teachers; sexual curiosity often ends up in obsession with pornography. Parents should give them more attention in order to prevent their getting access to pornography. Nowadays, however, both parents usually work and do not have enough time to spend with their children.

In our society, juvenile delinquency related to sexual abuse is a very serious problem which we’ve been facing a long time and cannot overlook. As educators on the ground, we think solutions should come from the Ministry of Education, the schools, the government and parents.

To prevent repetition of sexual violence in schools, the Ministry of Education should assign at least one special counselor for each school. Subject teachers cannot be expected to step in and fill the role of experts in sex education.

School counselors who specialize in sex education will provide an important resource for schools as they can offer students who have problems related to sex, access to up-to-date and appropriate materials to help resolve their issues. And teachers who provide sex education should get sufficient training.

Our government should enforce strict regulations regarding pornographic materials. The prosecution last year indicted many mobile carriers and a lot of content providers on charges of selling pornography via mobile phones without measures to block access by teenagers.

With easier access to porn, especially on the Internet, the government should strengthen regulations including heavier fines; longer jail terms; more cyber police officers and open criminal profiles to the public, among others.

Lastly, parents should pay more attention to their children. The more conversations they have in the family, the fewer problems there are. As cases of sexual violence increase, the need for warm and straightforward talks with our children has become especially acute. Instead of calling for harsh punishment of the students involved in the assaults, we should change our old-fashioned system of sex education.

Lee Ye-joon, teacher, Tongjin High School, Gimpo, and Kang Yoo-mi, teacher,

Anhaw High School, Hwaseong, Gyeonggi

Beef troubles bad for business

I am sad and embarrassed to see [the U.S. beef] issue become even bigger. I feel we must be the most uninformed and ignorant consumers in the world. Many friends and others from overseas are calling and e-mailing me to ask, “Why don’t Koreans know the truth about this issue ?”

For all of us living in Korea the biggest question is how much higher our food prices can go. Korea now has the highest beef prices in the world. On your own front page you talk about the people losing purchasing power. This is not just for oil, but also food. We spend more than 30 percent of our income on food whereas in the U.S. it’s 6 to 7 percent. Why?

It’s because of issues like this that ignore economic facts in order to protect small special interest groups ? and Korean media do not educate or help the consumer. Cho Jae-eun writes about higher pork prices coming; do you think delays in U.S. beef imports will lower pork prices? Yet it’s mentioned as an afterthought. This is the major cause! Its simple economics. This fiasco is hurting all beef business, domestic and imported. It is hurting all restaurant business. What is good about this for the economy? What is good about this for the consumer? Nothing.

Kip Richardson, Seoul
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