S.Korea teachers rally against bullying, violence by parents, students
This movement comes following the death of a 23-year-old elementary school teacher in July in an apparent suicide after complaining of anxiety due to abusive parents.
South Korea witnessed a mass walkout by educators as a result of demanding parents and uncontrolled students, as some teachers have taken their own lives as a result.
Approximately 15,000 people wearing black clothing attended on Monday outside the national assembly in Seoul with tears shed as speeches were read aloud. Calls for better protection for teachers have been increasing amid outrage about the mistreatment of staff and having to face accusations of child abuse for disciplining their students. In the meantime, the problem of bullying and violence among students in the country has been well-documented.
An elementary school teacher named Koh told The Guardian, “Teacher rights are just as important as student rights. We too are being bullied by parents and students, and this must stop.”
Some schools were reportedly temporarily closed on Monday due to the rally and missing teachers as well, despite the fact that authorities declared their actions were against the law and threatened legal consequences.
Kim, who came to Seoul for support, added, “Teachers are instrumental in shaping the future of our children. Schools are supposed to be safe, and not places where teachers are abused.”
100 suicides in two months
This movement was launched after the death of a 23-year-old elementary school teacher in July in an apparent suicide after complaining of anxiety due to abusive parents of students. Vigils and demonstrations every weekend have been held to mourn her death.
Monday marked the 49th day since her passing, which is an important day in funeral rites as per many Buddhist traditions. Reports have been releasing news of other apparent teacher suicides recently.
Among developed countries, South Korea records the highest rate of suicide, which stands as the main cause of death among people aged 10 to 39.
Everyone Together As One, the group organizing the walkout, said, “We will protect them (the teachers) and make changes so that not one more teacher chooses to take their life.”
According to government data, as of June, 100 school teachers committed suicide in South Korea since 2018, knowing that 57 of them taught at elementary schools.
In light of the recent events, the education ministry promised to fortify educational authority and is currently aiming to make sure that “legitimate educational activities are distinguished from child abuse crimes." The country's President Yoon Suk Yeol issued an order for officials to “deeply bear in mind” the teachers’ protests and protect their rights.
Previous governments have been blamed for “overemphasizing” students’ human rights over teacher rights, which it claimed resulted in “the number of indiscriminate child abuse reports to increase”.