Police book teacher for inaction in bullying case

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Police book teacher for inaction in bullying case


학교에서 ‘왕따’를 당했던 김모(당시 14세)양이 지난해 11월 숨지기 전 알림장에 남긴 유서. ‘나만 죽으면 다 끝이야’라는 내용과 함께 같은 반 학생 6명의 이름이 적혀 있다.

The Yangcheon Police Precinct in western Seoul yesterday said a day earlier they booked a 40-year-old middle school teacher in order to begin an official investigation into suspicions that the teacher, whose identity was withdrawn, did not take proper action to stop continued school violence facing a student, meaning he was in breach of his duties as an educator.

The police said that the victim’s parents repeatedly visited the teacher and asked for the teacher’s help in protecting their daughter last year.

The teacher is suspected to have taken no particular actions to that end, the police noted.

Amid continued beatings, insults and hazing by her school peers, the student, then 14, took her own life by jumping off the top of a high-rise apartment building in November last year.

The girl said in her suicide note, “My death will put an end [to the bullying].”

The police said they also booked eight students from her school on suspicions of joining in the bullying of the female student on 15 occasions from March through November last year.

The latest move by police to punish inaction by teachers stirred heated discussion among both educators and education experts as to what extent teachers are required to act in terms of fulfilling their duties as educators.

Amid rising skepticism over legal punishment for the booked teacher, the teachers’ association said they will wait for future findings by the police in the case.

“After finding out details of the case, we will determine our stance,” said Kim Dong-suk, the spokesman for the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations.

The booking of the teacher came hours after the government announced a set of comprehensive countermeasures to root out school violence in response to a recent string of suicides by young bullied students nationwide.

The measures call for quicker and stronger interventions by teachers, police and parents; stiffened punishments for violent students, including negative marks in the college admission process; closer supervision of violence; and the reinforcement of ethical and physical education.

In December, the nation was stunned by news that a middle school student from Daegu, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) southeast of Seoul, took his own life after being brutally bullied by his classmates for months at a time.

Similar cases of bullied students opting to commit suicide occurred in other parts of the country afterwards.

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