School violence can also occur outside the school and even if the perpetrator thinks it is just an act for fun, it can be violence if the victim feels uncomfortable about it. (The image above is a directed image.)
/Photography by Lee Da-young
We have lived in hopes of the “promotion of virtue and reproval of vice,” and especially regarding the latter, we tend to believe that in the face of many cases of school violence. However, many victims of school violence have posted on various Internet sites or said that the perpetrators who bullied them in their school days are still living well even as adults. Recently, posts accusing celebrities who committed school violence in the past have been uploaded one by one, and the entertainment industry has been shaken dramatically by the so-called “School Violence Me Too” movement. As the controversy over school violence perpetrators in the entertainment industry has erupted, interest in preventing school violence is also growing.
Even simple mischief can be school violence to the victim
According to the Act on the Prevention of and Countermeasures against Violence in Schools, school violence refers to “acts directed at a student inside or outside the school which involve bodily, mental, or property damage through injury, assault, imprisonment, intimidation, abuse, defamation, insult, compulsion of errands and sexual violence, bullying, and pornography or violence using communication networks.” In other words, school violence can also occur outside the school and includes mental, property or physical damage. Moreover, even if the perpetrator thinks it is just an act for fun, it can be violence if the victim feels uncomfortable about it. When it comes to the bystander, if one encourages violence, he/she is considered to have encouraged school violence and is subject to disciplinary action. In the case of the bystanders who only watch, they are not subject to disciplinary action, but there is an obligation to report by law. In addition, in the view of the social atmosphere, there is a strong perception that the bystanders are also perpetrators. Kim Min-ji, a junior of the Department of Music Education of Busan National University of Education, said, “I do not mean that I cannot understand the psychology of the bystander, but I personally think it is as bad as the perpetrator.” She also added, “The bystander is another form of violence. The most serious thing of the bystanders is that they become dull about school violence and do not recognize the seriousness of it.”
Meanwhile, the Act on the Prevention of and Countermeasures against Violence in Schools stipulates the duties of school principals to prevent school violence, to protect the victims, and to punish the perpetrators. The head of a school shall provide education to students (including concepts, actual conditions, countermeasures, and so on) at least once a semester for the students’ physical and mental protection and the prevention of school violence. Also, in order to protect the victim, the deliberation committee may request measures such as psychological counseling, treatment, nursing, and class replacement of the victim. Finally, in the perpetrator’s case, measures such as a written apology for the victim, a ban on retaliatory acts against the student who reported or the victim, and social service could be applied.
School violence cannot be eradicated, so we must prevent and deal with it
Then, why do we always face school violence despite many people’s efforts to eradicate it? Regarding this, Shin Na-min, a professor of the Department of Education, said, “School violence is an undesirable phenomenon but it cannot be eradicated. According to the study, the causes of school violence are so diverse that they cannot be eliminated altogether. Therefore, it is important to prevent and deal with school violence well.” She also added, “My previous study shows the answer, which accounted for the largest percentage of the reasons for the school violence, was ‘for fun.’ Also, school violence does not exist between only two groups of the perpetrators and victims, but it is a problem involving other school members such as the bystanders. In fact, there are reports that even if the bystanders make a little effort for the victim, the intensity of the violence does not get severe.”
School Violence Me Too movement was created by the victims’ voices
The “Me Too” movement was started by female social activist Tarana Burke in 2006 to encourage women to empathize and unite with each other by revealing their damage. Since what happens currently in the entertainment industry is similar to this movement in that the victims accuse the perpetrators directly, this situation is also called the “School Violence Me Too” movement. This movement started with two volleyball players, Lee Jae-yeong and Lee Da-yeong, who are twin sisters.
After rumors of a feud with Kim Yeon-koung, who is on the same team, appeared and when Lee Da-yeong was hospitalized due to stress, there was a post on the Internet that the sisters were the perpetrators of school violence. According to the post, their violence began from elementary school. In middle and high school, they threatened victims with weapons, extorted money and valuables, insulted victims’ parents in front of other team members, and committed lots of other things. Facing this incident, President Moon Jae-in gave a special order to Hwang Hee, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, to root out violence in sports. After the exposure about the twin players, this kind of exposure spread beyond the sports world to the entertainment industry, making it a social issue comparable to the Me Too movement. For example, last March, writing was posted on the Internet saying that actor Jisoo was a perpetrator of school violence. Some netizens also talked about their experiences of being assaulted by him in the comments and other revelations posted one after another. Eventually, two days after the revelation, Jisoo posted a self-written apology acknowledging that he was the perpetrator.
Currently, lots of celebrities are suspected of school violence but among them, few have admitted it, despite consistent exposure and evidence from the victims. The perpetrators have repeatedly denied or responded that they do not remember the particular circumstances. Some of them asked for meeting with the person who posted exposure writing to talk with him/her in person. The entertainments are also showing a disobliging manner in that they will take legal proceedings against the victims, saying it is a defamation of character. However, it seems difficult to turn public opinion, which has already been solidified toward the victim. Oh, a resident of Seoul, said, “To be honest, the entertainment seems to be trying to deny the celebrity’s school violence somehow. Many people probably think like me, but they just do not talk easily since the entertainment can sue netizens.”
We should not forget the school violence of the general public
Then, what is the current status of school violence? In January 2021, the Ministry of Education shared the results of the school violence survey. (Subjects were students from fourth grade in elementary school to second grade in high school, and the period was from September 14th to October 23rd, 2020) According to the survey, the percentage of students who experienced school violence decreased from 1.6% in 2019 to 0.9% in 2020. By type of damage, verbal violence (33.6%) accounted for the largest proportion, and it was followed by bullying in a group (26%) and cyber violence (12.3%). Compared to the 2019 survey, the total number of damages decreased, but the proportion of cyberbullying (3.4%p) and bullying in a group (2.8%p) increased. Meanwhile, the rate of perpetrators increased from 0.3% in the previous year to 0.6% in 2019, but as with the rate of victims, it decreased to 0.3% in 2020. As to the reasons for the violence, “without any special reason or just for fun” accounted for the largest proportion (28.1%).
Regarding the decrease in school violence, professor Shin said that it can be assumed that it is because the days going to school have decreased due to COVID-19. Rather, she focused on the fact that the proportion of verbal violence, bullying in a group and cyberbullying has increased and especially verbal violence in elementary school and cyberbullying in middle school. She said that cyberbullying will be a continuous problem. She also added, “The perpetrators are not likely to respond to the truth. According to the survey, the rate of perpetrator was 0.9%, but the rate of witness was 2.3%.”
As such, school violence occurs every year. Also, it simply does not stop at the level of mischief as perpetrators allege. There was a high-profile incident called, “Incheon middle school student death from a fall.” In November 2018, four perpetrators called the victim to an apartment rooftop and assaulted the victim for an hour, swearing at him. While the perpetrators were resting after one hour of violence, the victim tried to land on an air conditioner’s outdoor unit, but he lost his balance and fell to his death. As a full-scale investigation was conducted, evidence emerged that the victim was severely assaulted, as the perpetrator burnt his padded coat with the victim’s blood and took the victim’s coat. The perpetrators committed school violence since the victim lived with a foreign mother, but one of the perpetrators tried to rationalize his violence, saying the victim insulted his parents.
Where should victims express the pain of the past?
According to the results of the school violence survey in 2020, 17.6% of school violence victims did not report their victimization. Reasons for not reporting were “thought it was not a big deal,” “tried to solve it oneself,” followed by “be more likely to be bullied,” or “useless to report.” If school violence is not found and so unresolved, the perpetrator lives without any record, and only the victim lives in pain for the rest of his/her life. Oh said, “I think the only good thing about celebrities’ school violence is that there is a window to expose them. However, general public’s school violence does not have a window of exposure. If the victims are told how perpetrators are doing well, the victims will only suffer more.”
To eradicate school violence, the government have proposed various programs. However, there is still no significant change, and solution to the underlying problem has not been made. Professor Shin said, “In my opinion, school violence is not a problem that will be resolved by the government’s countermeasures. I think parents, teachers, communities, and businesses should think and solve this problem altogether for the well-being and welfare of students.” Kim Min-ji also said, “In order to eradicate school violence, victim must express intention to refuse strongly. Of course, it is not the victim’s fault, but if he/she takes a passive attitude when he/she is bullied for the first time, the one can be bullied more.” She also emphasized the importance of role of adults such as parents and teachers.
Lee Da-young email@example.com
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