In Korean schools, the teachers need protection

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In Korean schools, the teachers need protection

A fifth-grade student became known as the Iksan Elementary Terror.
Forced to transfer to an elementary school in Iksan, North Jeolla, he turned the school upside down on his fifth day.  
Kicking classmates and attacking students for “looking at him,” he showed indiscriminate violent behavior towards other students.  
He swore at his teacher and told her she was “useless and incompetent” for trying to stop fights.  
“I couldn’t do anything to stop him,” admitted the teacher.  
“When he cursed at his classmates, all I could say was, ‘Say it to me instead of them.' I felt powerless.”  
Kids are running amok in Korean schools because of efforts to reel in the brutal discipline of the past.  
The enactment of the Student Human Rights Ordinance in 2009 prohibited corporal punishment and aggressive verbal confrontation.  
Alternatives such as making students stand facing the wall have been prohibited by local education offices for “humiliating the student.”
Teachers say since they can't discipline students in any way, what could anyone expect?  
According to the Ministry of Education, out of 11,148 cases of educational violence and misconduct in the last five years, violence directed at teachers accounted for 7.9 percent.  
The number of teachers who needed counseling because of student misconduct and violence nearly doubled within the past ten years, from 287 cases in 2011 to 437 cases in 2021.  
Some 888 teachers were subject to violence by students over the past five years.  
“There are many teachers who don’t report student violence cases, so the actual number of cases is estimated to be much higher,” said Kim Dong-seok, head of the Korea Federation of Teachers' Rights Division.
A sixth-grade student in Suwon threatened to kill his teacher with a saw used for woodwork for trying to stop a fight on June 4. The teacher couldn’t do much.  
“The only thing a teacher can do is ask the student if they would like to be referred to the School Violence Committee,” an elementary school teacher said.  
"Even if one student hits another or hits you, you cannot do anything to physically stop it."
According to a survey conducted by the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations in May, teachers ranked “limiting problematic behavior” at the top of the list of difficulties of teaching.  
There are also teachers who argue that a student conduct law should be created.  
The Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations demanded the enactment of the Student Life Guidance Act, which includes measures to isolate students with problematic behavior, provide psychological treatment for students, and protect teachers’ rights.  
“In the United States, the school can immediately summon the parents of problematic students,” said Kim.  
“Teachers in the United States even have the authority to separate students from their parents if domestic abuse is suspected. Compared to that, teachers in Korea have no power,” he added.

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