1 in 4 elementary students admits to being bullied

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1 in 4 elementary students admits to being bullied

One in every four students in the upper grades of elementary school have been bullied by schoolmates but nearly half kept silent about their experience, a survey showed yesterday.

According to the survey of 1,377 fourth- to sixth-grade students of five elementary schools in Seoul by Childfund Korea, a nongovernmental child welfare organization, 25 percent said they have experienced bullying at school.

The survey was conducted from September through late December of last year.

The results were released after a recent string of suicides by young students who had been bullied triggered anxiety over rampant violence in South Korean grade schools.

The respondents cited spreading malignant rumors, beating or pushing and verbal abuse as the most frequent types of bullying. Coming in second was hazing with unpleasant words or behavior, including sexual slurs, followed by theft of belongings or money.

About 53 percent of the victimized students said they sought help from their parents, teachers and friends after the incident, but 47 percent said they did not.

Asked their reasons for not seeking help, 28 percent cited a fear of making things worse while 19 percent thought reporting the bullying would be of no use. Sixteen percent said they thought bullying was no big deal while 11 percent were afraid of the bullies taking revenge.

The survey identified routes taken to and from school, out-of-the-way neighborhood areas, classrooms and school corridors as the most common places for student-on-student violence.

Despite the recent heightened awareness of school violence, a decision by the Seoul metropolitan education council to employ “school sheriffs” under the direct control of school principals has drawn strong criticism from some parents.

The council last month decided that private guards placed at schools in the capital to prevent student violence, kidnapping and sex crimes would come under the direct employment of school principals as part of cost-saving efforts, according to the Seoul metropolitan government.

Parents’ organizations, however, say the change would mean a return to an outdated system of placing retired soldiers and police officers in schools as volunteer guards.

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