Cyberbullies use phones to target victims

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Cyberbullies use phones to target victims

Bullies used to intimidate with their physical size and power, but these days they use psychological violence, often through KakaoTalk group chat rooms, to torment their victims online - and schools are not capably responding to the problem.

Incidents of school violence decreased over the past five years from around 28,000 in 2012 to around 21,400 last year, according a Ministry of Education report submitted to Rep. Yeom Dong-yeol of the Saenuri Party.

Of all incidents, the percentage of theft or threats was 8.8 percent in 2012, 6.3 percent in 2013, 4 percent in 2014 and 2.8 percent last year. Incidents of peer pressure have also fallen from 4.3 percent to 3.2 percent, 2.9 percent and 2.6 percent.

But more and more students are suffering from types of violence that are difficult to spot. The incidence of cyberbullying doubled last year to 6.8 percent, from 3.1 percent in 2012. Defamation and insult are also on the increase, from 4.6 percent in 2012 to 7.4 percent last year. With the expansion of smartphone use, school violence has spread to online communities.

The bigger problem, however, is that schools’ attitudes towards these incidents remain largely passive. The percentage of written apologies grew from 21.1 percent in 2012 to 29.2 percent in 2015, and the proportion of prohibitions on contact or threats rose from 11.1 percent in 2012 to 17.3 percent in 2015. But suspension, class transfers and school transfers are on the decrease.

“It seems like schools do not take much action regarding the issue,” said Yeom. “It is imperative that we come up with practical measures to punish and educate bullies.”

BY YU GIL-YONG [shon.jihye@joongang.co.kr]

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