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More teachers insulted by students, parents

Teachers’ group attributes violations to ordinance for greater student rights


More teachers are being insulted or beaten by students or parents while on their student conduct duties, a report found Sunday.

According to the Korean Federation of Teachers’ Association, a conservative teachers’ group, cases that involve infringement upon teachers’ responsibilities and rights have increased 12-fold from 22 cases in 1991 to 287 in 2011. The report was based on reports to the teacher’s group over the last 21 years, and also revealed that the number of incidents had approximately doubled in a decade from 115 in 2002.

Forty percent of cases involved insults and physical violence from students and parents.

“Cases in which teachers’ rights are infringed upon are increasing at a fast rate, which discourages teachers’ morale. The trend also shows that schools are on the verge of losing balance,” said Ahn Yang-ok, president of the teachers’ group.

Ahn attributed such problems to the ordinance passed in some municipalities to strengthen students’ rights.

“It is related to some regional education offices’ decision to ban corporal punishment and announcement of the ordinance on students’ rights,” Ahn added.

The KFTA has opposed the student rights ordinance presented by progressive groups and passed by some municipalities including Seoul, Gwangju and Gyeonggi Province.

Cases in which students and parents violated teachers’ rights happened most often when teachers tried to correct students’ behavior (56.52 percent) and when teachers imposed light punishment (25.22 percent).

Some parents made what were deemed unreasonable requests to change the school system (18.26 percent).

Some cases involved threatening, cursing and hitting.

“A student cursed at me when I told him to wear school slippers. I don’t even have any strict penalties to impose on a student who smoked electronic cigarettes during a class,” said a teacher in a report to the KFTA.

“Teachers’ authority dropped significantly as students’ rights overrode it. We need to do something about it immediately.”

Another teacher was threatened by one of her students while she forbade him to smoke. Another case involved a student hitting a teacher in the face. The teacher subsequently went on sick leave.

Shin Sung-ki, director of the teachers’ rights division of the KFTA, said: “Students and parents need to deal with problems on school grounds through conversations with teachers and take procedures set by the school conflict-resolution committee rather than confronting them emotionally.”

The KFTA also called for the passing of legislation to protect teachers’ rights that was submitted to the parliament in 2009 but is currently pending.

It calls for designating lawyers to take up cases involving student violations of teachers’ rights, setting a procedure to allow visitors to enter school grounds and conducting rigorous investigations into violent cases against teachers.

By Lee Woo-young  (wylee@heraldcorp.com)
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