[Letters] Power of love can break vicious cycle of school bullying

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[Letters] Power of love can break vicious cycle of school bullying

In Korea, the influence of Confucian philosophy has led to a strict seniority system based on age. Under this system, one has to be polite to anyone who is older than you by one year or more. Most foreigners agree that showing respect to elderly people is a lovely aspect of Korean culture, and they are happy when young Korean people are polite to them.

The seniority system is having a dangerous affect on our schools today, however. Self-righteous older students often bully younger classmates and incite school violence.

I believe we must put an end to this sort of school violence. It has gone way too far and it’s causing social problems for students.

It is time to stop both violence in our schools and the ranking of students by seniority. Both are absolutely unacceptable. We are living in a democratic society and power alone cannot rule over the peace. Secondary education should be where a person learns how to interact with other people. However, when teachers and seniors teach a complete obedience to the school ranking system, students may never learn to express their opinions openly.

This trajectory can be seen in the case of a freshman in middle school who is bullied by a third year student. Because the seniority system is enforced by both teachers and students, you don’t have someone to turn to to ask for help. When the bullying starts, you feel shocked and miserable. But as the bullying continues, you may become acceptant of the system and tamed by the power of seniority.

Peer pressure to adhere to the seniority system can be seen in extracurricular activities as well. If you are on a successful school baseball team and have a good chance of being scouted for a professional team, chances are you will ignore bullying by your teammates in order to ensure your future career.

Even if the pressure from the seniors is serious, the student will most likely suffer the humiliation rather than get kicked off the team.

Bullying in a school doesn’t stop when seniors graduate. A new class of seniors simply comes in and does the same thing the last class did, because that is what they know. The passing down of this ranking system can be seen in every class and every generation.

The problem is, when a person gets used to something, change becomes difficult. There is a Korean proverb: “Habits in an infant will last even when they are in their 80’s.” The good news is that if seniors start taking care of freshmen instead of treating them poorly, we might be able to break the cycle of violence.

I believe that the best way to break the cycle is with love. I dare to say that love is the strongest method of teaching. I’ve experienced it myself. I was a very rude boy when I was 11 years old. I bullied my friends and the students younger than me. Teachers tried to change me with a whip. At first, I was scared of the whip. However, after a few days I got used to it and kept on giving others a hard time. There seemed to be no medicine to cure me.

Then, my parents changed me with the power of love. They cried, prayed to the Lord, and spent a lot of time with me to change my bad habits.

I am certain that school violence could be curbed with the power of love. Not only the students but teachers also have to take care of freshmen and carefully watch what is going on in and outside of school. When there is love, peace is just around the corner.

Choi Seong-hun,

Kyung Hee University College of Business
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