Stats show chipping away of teachers’ authority

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Stats show chipping away of teachers’ authority

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After a middle school student in Incheon used his cellphone to film up his teacher’s skirt, he posted the video on the Internet and the school found out about it. He was told to transfer to a new school.

He refused.

A teacher at a Seoul high school became exasperated with students who were chronically tardy, and instructed them to report to class 30 minutes earlier every day. They refused, and their parents went to the principal and demanded the teacher lay off their kids.

There are plenty of anecdotes about students and even their parents standing up to teachers’ authority these days, and going even farther to insult them, swear at them or assault them. But now there are also statistics to prove it.

According to the Korean Federation of Teacher’s Association (KFTA), cases of encroachment on teachers’ authority has consistently increased over the past five years, reaching 287 cases last year compared to 260 in 2010. In 2007, there were 204 cases and 249 in 2009.

The KFTA said that 40 percent of the cases last year involved students and parents challenging the teacher’s authority, including violent language and threats toward the teachers.

The KFTA report cites 31 demands by parents for a new homeroom teacher for their children. Another 21 cases involved “excessive demands about the running of the school from parents and residents in the neighborhood.”

In 5.6 percent of the cases, teachers were defamed in false rumors outside of school.

The KFTA said that “compared to 2010, students’ and parents’ violence and abusive language in response to teachers increased 38.3 percent” and that “the new ordinance on students’ rights and the banning of corporal punishment might be contributing to the crumbling of teachers’ authority.” This year, Seoul and other local governments prohibited corporal punishment.


By Sarah Kim [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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