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Normalized schools see increase in violence

Students are on their way to an elementary school in western Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Students are on their way to an elementary school in western Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)


With schools returning to normalcy, more students are experiencing school violence, a survey from the Education Ministry showed.

The Ministry of Education announced the results of a survey on school violence conducted by local education offices across Korea on Tuesday. The North Jeolla Province Education Office was not included, as it decided to run an individual survey.

Some 3.21 million out of 3.87 million students participated in the survey, marking an 82.9 percent response rate. The survey was conducted from April 11 to May 18.

In the survey, 53,880 students -- 1.7 percent of respondents -- answered they had experienced school violence between the second semester of 2021 and the first semester of 2022.

The number was at its highest in years. Though the figure had been on the rise from 2016 to 2019, it remained relatively low in 2020 and 2021.

The ministry interpreted the increase in the number of students experiencing school violence as likely to be from schools returning to normalcy with face-to-face classes.

"More students are communicating with their classmates physically and verbally after schools returned to normalcy," said Han Yu-kyung, head of the Institute of School Violence Prevention at Ewha Womans University.

While 3.8 percent of elementary school students, 0.9 percent of middle school students and 0.3 percent of high school students said they experienced school violence, Han said, "Elementary school students can be more sensitive about the use of violent language and interpret it as violence."

Among those experiencing school violence, 41.8 percent said they were exposed to verbal violence, 14.6 percent physical violence and 13.3 percent bullying. The rate of cyberbullying, which went up to 12.3 percent in 2020 due to more online classes, dropped to 9.8 percent in 2021 and to 9.6 percent in 2022.

The Education Ministry said it will work on developing a mobile application that allows users to report school violence immediately, in cooperation with the National Police Agency and the Gender Ministry.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)

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