Human rights are key to our future

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Human rights are key to our future

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My son was in his later years of elementary school when he began to have an interest in “adult stuff.” Once, he downloaded an animated adult film onto our home computer. Though I was quite worried, I didn’t want to ban him from it right away. Since there are so many ways to access these materials, I wanted him to be able to control his impulses. I was also concerned that he’d develop a misguided view of sexual relationships. When I talked to him about it, I said, “Most adult videos reflect fantasies men have and acts that are unpleasant or insulting to women, and some criminal acts are packaged as pleasure. I hope you become a man who is considerate to the woman you love.” My son responded, “Of course. I’m not a kid.”

But our constructive discussion is often undermined by television. In dramas, a man often attempts physical contact with a woman without her consent, sometimes forcibly pushing her into his car and driving away, only for the woman to respond by giving him a light slap on the face. What’s worse is that in these shows, this kind of violence is often a precursor to love.

What about at school? Many teachers berate and punish students openly. They may argue that their actions are done out of love, but their students probably wouldn’t agree. Teachers will also go through students’ belongings and check their clothes and hairstyles. An adult would never let another person invade their privacy like that, yet there is the perception that the rights of students are unimportant.

Despite the controversy over the ordinance on students’ rights, I welcome it. It is fortunate that students’ rights have emerged as a key issue in education. Sensitivity to human rights includes the ability to be empathetic and look at various things from others’ perspectives. Students who have been violent at school will often say that they didn’t realize how bad their actions were; they surely lack an understanding of human rights. Renowned human rights educator Hugh Starkey once said that human rights are only in effect when people are both aware of them and exercise them. Human rights need to be taught, and teachers have a duty to teach the principles and provide students with opportunities to experience an environment where human rights are respected.

I hope my son grows up to become a man who understands the importance of human rights. It will surely make him a better, more considerate person.

by Lee Na-ree

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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