Police to up patrols of graduations after hazings

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Police to up patrols of graduations after hazings

Following a recent series of graduation hazing incidents in middle schools, police will strengthen patrols around middle and high schools nationwide where graduation ceremonies are scheduled this month.

The National Police Agency said that a five-week period of patrols began Feb. 8 and will run until March 14. Police said cases of school hazing take place frequently around graduation and entrance ceremonies between February and early March.

During the period, each precinct will provide a one-time special class on crime prevention to all elementary, middle and high school students.

In addition to photos posted on the Web of naked graduates from a middle school in Goyang, Gyeonggi, the Ilsan Police Precinct said that yesterday they have discovered evidence that high school students who graduated from the same middle school have also stolen money from hazing victims several times in the past.

Statements have now been taken from 14 of the original 15 victims, investigators said. The hazing victims say they received text messages from the older students telling them to attend the ritual or else they would be punished. Police said victims and their parents now want those behind the hazing to face punishment themselves. “One high school student sincerely apologized but the rest more or less said that they did what they did because they experienced the same hazing last year,” said a mother of a victim who asked not to be named. “I will not let my child go near those older students ever again.”

About 40 pictures spread quickly online starting at 3 a.m. last Saturday. The graduation ceremony took place last Thursday.

Some of the hazing subjects live near those high school students and have had money and personal items stolen from them, according to police.

“I told the police that some offenders and victims have been neighbors since elementary school. Older students have been hazing and stealing money from younger kids,” said a teacher at the middle school who asked not to be identified.

Investigators are planning to question 20 high school students after talking with victims. If there’s strong evidence against the 20, they will be charged for criminal violations, investigators said. Police are also weighing charges against a suspect who allegedly uploaded the photos.

Investigators asked Internet portal operators to stop the photos from spreading and remove them when found.

By Kang In-sik, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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