Seoul to hire guards to protect kids from rapists

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Seoul to hire guards to protect kids from rapists

To protect kids from sexual predators, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Tuesday that it will hire two guards for each of the city’s 547 public elementary schools.

“The Seoul Metropolitan Government allotted 11.4 billion won [$9.9 million] in next year’s budget to hire 1,094 school guards by January,” said Lee Chang-hak, an official at Seoul’s education cooperation bureau.

“We aim to expand the program to all-girls middle schools by 2012. By 2014, all 1,270 elementary, middle and high schools in Seoul will have over 2,500 school guards,” the official added.

In June, Kim Su-cheol, a 45-year-old repeat sex offender, who spent 15 years in prison for raping a woman in 1987, lured an 8-year-old girl from the playground of a Seoul elementary school in broad daylight and brutally raped her in his nearby home.

The girl’s mother sued the Seoul Metropolitan Government for compensation, and the case is pending in court. The girl has undergone six surgeries after the attack and will be discharged from a Seoul hospital soon.

The Seoul education office has been running a 1,272-man volunteer guard program, but the guards are only paid 30,000 won per day for traveling expenses. Education experts say full-time guards are needed to prevent predators from sneaking into schools.

The full-time guards will receive 1.31 million won per month and work from Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., in two shifts.

The major task for full-time guards will be to patrol schools to prevent incidents, and they will have the power to prevent outsiders and their vehicles from getting onto school premises. The guards will also teach children how to avoid becoming victims of physical violence or kidnapping.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government will recruit former police officers, private security guards and people with youth counseling experience. Guards will undergo training on sexual harassment prevention and gender equality. Principals will have the final say on who is hired for their schools.

Parents hailed the measure.

“The top priority should be blocking strangers getting into schools,” said Maeng Shin-young, mother of a fourth-grade daughter. “My daughter is afraid of returning home after classes because she has to walk alone.”

By Kim Mi-ju, Chang Chung-hoon []
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