Gov’t agencies to get tough against school violence

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Gov’t agencies to get tough against school violence

Criticism against government agencies for sticking with the same measures to combat bullying in schools - recent measures have merely included expanding the number of counselors and reporting centers - has pushed the government to adopt stricter measures.

This is part of an effort to create awareness that school violence is a crime that students are responsible for, rather than sending the message that students can get off with detention or writing an apology.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said on Monday that ministry officials and education experts held an advisory meeting to eradicate school violence. The committee discussed pushing forward a measure to lower the age of criminal responsibility from the current 14 to 12 in an attempt to come up with a more effective system for police to deal with violent students who are in middle school.

When police were investigating the recent suicide of a 13-year-old boy in Daegu, who killed himself late last month because he couldn’t bear bullying from his classmates, it was reported that the police had difficulties in dealing with the two suspects as they were both considered minors under current criminal law.

The advisory committee to eradicate school violence is a “pan-government public-private group composed of 22 officials and experts” formed in the wake of the Daegu suicide to come up with measures to better manage violence among students.

“During the revision of the criminal law in 1953, the minimum age for minors in crime cases was set at 14 and has remained there for nearly 60 years, but as the age group [of both assailants and victims of school violence] decreases, while the severity of violence becomes serious, it is necessary to make a downward revision of the criminal law,” said a member of the advisory committee.

Another measure proposed by the government includes recording the names of school violence assailants in student records so that teachers can observe the students. This measure also forces teachers to record the disciplinary actions the students received, which will negatively affect the students when entering high school or college.

In an effort to prevent school violence, the JoongAng Ilbo joined hands with the 180,000-member Korean Federation of Teachers Associations and Haksamo, a parents’ group that describes itself as “parents who love school,” and plans to hold a nationwide movement under the slogan, “Stop school violence - three wheel nationwide movement.” The idea of three wheels is that school violence can only be tackled when three parties - schools, parents, and the government - join forces.

The JoongAng Ilbo said it will receive suggestions to crack down on school violence, or applications from groups that wish to join the movement, via e-mail at school@joongang.co.kr.


By Yim Seung-hye, Kim Sung-tak [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

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