Sex offenders still working near kidsForty-eight education workers currently in service are convicted sex offenders, according to data submitted by local education authorities to a ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker.
Those revelations come amid efforts by the Ministry of Education to oust teachers convicted of sexual crimes from schools, including some 100 still working, and has shone a light on an unexpected loophole in its aim to protect students.
Incheon had the most offenders, 12, followed by Seoul with nine and Busan with six. North Jeolla had five education workers who were convicted of sexual crimes; South Jeolla and North Gyeongbuk each had four; Gangwon had three; Gwangju had two; and South Chungcheong, South Gyeongsang and Jeju each had one. Nineteen paid for illegal sex, while 13 were convicted of sexual molestation. Six were found guilty of sexual harassment and another six of sexual violence, according to the figures.
However, although they work with children at schools, most of the 48 education workers did not face serious punitive action. Two were demoted and 13 suspended. Others were handed even lesser punishments, such as a pay cut (seven), a reprimand (12), a severe warning (nine) or a regular warning (five).
“It is problem when education workers who spend every day with students are still working even after committing sex crimes,” said Saenuri Rep. Park Dae-chul. “We need a stricter system in place to root out sexual offenders.”
The data was collected following the ministry’s announcement on Sept. 4 that it had prepared a plan to strengthen disciplinary measures against teachers, banning anyone convicted of a sex crime from working at an educational institution, both public and private, or ever teaching again.
Under the current law governing educational civil servants, including teachers, only those who are dismissed from their position or fired for committing sexual crimes against minors, or those convicted of sexual crimes against minors and fined 1 million won ($961) or more, must immediately retire. Their status as civil servants is also permanently revoked.
Over the past five years, 240 school teachers were punished for sexual crimes against children or adults, government statics show. Among them, 115 are still teaching.
BY KIM BONG-MOON [firstname.lastname@example.org]