Schools spare the rod and teachers get mauledWhile education offices nationwide move toward a ban on punishment in schools, teachers are begging for a special law to protect them from their out-of-control students who physically assault and even sexually harass them during class.
Ending corporal punishment and giving students more rights were campaign promises of liberal opposition parties who swept education office elections across the country in June.
“Ever since liberal superintendents promulgated an ordinance for students’ rights and banned corporal punishment, a continuous string of violence against teachers has occurred,” the Gyeonggi Federation of Teachers Association said in a statement Monday. “Education authorities should not see these incidents as random and should take special steps to prevent them, such as enacting a protection law for teacher’s rights.”
The demand has escalated after a video clip spread on the Internet Saturday showing rowdy middle school boys and girls making fun of their female teacher during a lecture. In the 1-minute-37-second clip, which was dubbed “Middle School Students With No Common Sense,” four students barraged the teacher with questions such as, “When was your first kiss and first period?” and “You lost your virginity when you were a high school student, right?”
The National Police Agency said yesterday that it launched an investigation to find who shot and spread the video, and were considering charges of defaming the teacher.
According to the Gyeonggi Education Office, a 14-year-old boy beat his 24-year-old female English teacher in a high school in Suwon, Gyeonggi, Thursday. The boy, who was being scolded for failing to bring his textbook to class, punched the teacher in her chin twice and kicked her thigh.
A string of student attacks have made headlines since the Seoul and Gyeonggi Education Offices announced bans on most forms of punishment for students. Education offices nationwide are considering the same ban.
The Gyeonggi Education Office passed an ordinance to support students’ rights on Oct. 5 that prohibits any kind of punishment in schools. The ordinance goes into effect in the spring 2011 semester.
On Oct. 31, the Seoul Education Office also released revised regulations to prohibit punishments and ordered schools in Seoul to follow them starting on Nov. 1.
In Seoul, teachers have three permitted ways of disciplining students, which the education office calls “alternatives to corporal punishment.”
The first step is to warn the student not to act disobediently in class. If the student continues, the teacher can send them to the back of the classroom to sit alone. The final step is to order the student to a so-called “introspection room,” where an education consultant is available for advice, or where the student can read or study. The school can also request students’ parents to meet with teachers.
Gyeonggi hasn’t announced its alternatives to punishment.
While teachers say the new rules have robbed them of authority, the Gyeonggi Education Office said recent chaos in classrooms is not related to the ban on corporal punishment.
By Choi Mo-ran, Kim Hee-jin [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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