Stop sexual violence at school

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Stop sexual violence at school

The government has come up with tougher measures to rein in and root out sexual battery by authority figures in schools. Parents have been lodging complaints amid reports of a series of sexual misconduct, advances and harassment by teachers in recent days.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn announced last week that the government will impose strict guidelines on four major social ills, particularly sexual violence, so that the public can see distinct changes in the government’s approach to sexual crimes. The prime minister said that the government will revise relevant laws so that teachers suspected of sexual misconduct, as well as their school principals who neglected to protect the children, could lose their teaching licenses.

According to the prime minister’s plan, the deliberation period for punitive actions would be shortened to 30 days from the current 60 so the accused can be immediately dismissed and kept separated from the victim. Similar measures regarding unwanted sexual advances and harassment will be enforced in the military and government offices.

As sexual violence and assaults can cause lasting physical and psychological harm to the victims, the government must do its best to ensure the successful implementation of the measures. To achieve its goal, related government offices and staff must cooperate with the prime minister’s ambitious drive for putting an end to the repeated cycles of sexual misconduct in the country.

As recent serious incidents at schools suggest, educators need to be reeducated about sexual misconducts. According to the investigation by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, teachers in a certain public school in the capital had been accused of sexually harassing female colleagues and even students for years, but the teachers and principals have been trying to hide their wrongdoings instead of taking adequate actions.

One teacher blatantly told a female colleague that he knew people at the presidential office and threatened her. A female teacher who reported being harassed soon discovered a knife on her desk. A few rotten apples are demoralizing and damaging the reputation of the entire teaching profession. Education authorities must expedite investigations and law enforcement officers must take action. Mere rhetoric cannot stop sexual offenses.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 8, Page 26

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