School violence must endTwo students died less than two weeks apart at the same private school in Jinju, South Gyeongsang. Schools remain dangerous even though the government has been trying to combat school violence for the past two years. How many more young lives must be sacrificed before we can ensure safe schools for our children?
The private high school in Jinju was still in mourning after a freshman died from a fistfight with one of his peers in March and another student died after a junior punched him in the abdomen. We can imagine what a traumatic experience this must be for the students and their parents.
The students from Jinju Foreign Language High School and the 15-year-old boy surnamed Choi in Gyeongsan, North Gyeongsang, who committed suicide a year ago after he was bullied, were all victimized on school campuses. Choi had been beaten by his peers in a school dormitory where they could escape cameras and the school’s authorities. Students testified that dormitories often become places of violence because supervision there is neglected.
The education authorities naively believed that student polls could end school violence. Yet as long these blind spots exist, school violence and threats will continue regardless of hotlines or a police presence. Authorities should carry out a new investigation into the 150 schools around the country that have dormitories to discover the dangers that lurk behind closed doors. No matter how tough the measures instituted by the authorities are, they will be of no use if they are not applied on school premises. Schools must have the will to combat and root out violence. Administrators and teachers must keep vigilant watch to prevent any violence.
The wife of South Gyeongsang’s education superintendent is the board director of Jinju Foreign Language High School. The provisional office of education last year received an award from the Ministry of Education for its excellent oversight on school violence. School authorities must also be scrutinized as to whether their negligence has contributed to the recent student deaths.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 14, Page 30