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[Newsmaker] School violence halved, but cyberbullying rises in pandemic

School violence in South Korea nearly halved from a year earlier in 2020 but cyberbullying gained greater presence among students as the COVID-19 pandemic limited the number of in-school interactions, a government data showed Thursday.

According to an online Ministry of Education survey of 3.57 million students between 4th grade and 11th grade conducted from September 2019 to October 2020, 0.9 percent of respondents said they experienced school violence, down 0.7 percentage points from the same survey conducted a year earlier.

Some 1.8 percent of elementary school students reported they experienced school violence, down 1.8 percentage points from a year earlier, and 0.5 percent of middle school students said they fell victim to school violence, down 0.3 percentage points from 2019.

The proportion of high school students who experienced school violence inched down 0.2 percentage points to 0.2 percent.

Although school violence overall fell due to decrease in the number of school days, the proportion of cyberbullying and group bullying surged, sparking concerns that remote learning environment has created new ways of bullying.

The proportion of group-bullying within all forms of violence reported in the survey jumped 2.8 percentage points from a year earlier to 26 percent, while the figure for cyberbullying rose 3.4 percentage points to 12.3 percent.

“It was found that the number of cases of school violence fell in all categories compared to the previous survey,” said Han Hyo-jung, a senior official at the Korea Edcuational Development Institute.

“But the government should prepare some measures in consideration of the fact that the proportion of cyberbullying and group bullying increased.”

The Education Ministry said it will prepare new measures in consideration of the survey results to be announced before the new school year starts in March.

In collaboration with related ministries and educational offices, the ministry said it will strengthen education on smartphone and internet use while launching campaigns to prevent cyberbullying.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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