The Korea Herald

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Victims of school bullying more prone to suicide risks

By Park Jun-hee

Published : March 5, 2023 - 14:57

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This is a still image of Netflix’s “The Glory,” which revolves around the revenge-driven female character who survived horrifying abuse in high school. (Netflix) This is a still image of Netflix’s “The Glory,” which revolves around the revenge-driven female character who survived horrifying abuse in high school. (Netflix)

Students who experienced bullying during their school years are more likely to report high levels of suicide-related behavior, research showed Sunday.

A joint research team led by Professor Park Ae-ri at Sunchon National University and Professor Kim Yu-na’s research team at Yuhan University showed that college students who had experienced school violence were 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers who hadn't been involved in such incidents.

The finding came to light in research conducted in September 2020, based on 1,030 participants between the ages of 19 to 27. Among the total, there were 516 males and 514 females. The participants were asked if they had suffered any type of peer-on-peer violence during their elementary or secondary school years and if they had ever considered or attempted suicide.

School violence was defined by the research team as any physical attack or harassment between students or by students targeting their peers. This included extortion and psychological attacks such as verbal and emotional abuse, as well as teasing or making fun of peers.

The findings of the study revealed that 34 percent of the participants, or 353 individuals, reported experiencing verbal abuse, bullying and physical violence at the hands of their peers during their childhood years.

Of the participants who reported being victims of school violence, 54.4 percent said that they had considered suicide while 13 percent of the respondents answered that they had attempted to take their own life.

Among the 677 participants who didn’t experience school violence or bullying, 36.2 percent (245 participants) said they had experienced suicidal thoughts, while 5.2 percent (35 participants) said they had attempted suicide, showing a lower incidence of suicidal behavior than those who had experienced school bullying.

As peer-on-peer abuse in Korea is on the rise, the research suggested that universities check in with their students to confirm if they have experienced school violence in their past, explaining that school violence in childhood can have effects on early adulthood. The study also found that any form of school violence or bullying can contribute to severe depression in victims.

In Korea, perpetrators of school violence under the age of 14 are not subject to criminal punishment under the Criminal Act; those between 10 and 14 can receive a protective order under the Juvenile Act.