Schools buckle under corporal punishment ban
The Korea Herald 26 Dec 2010
In less than two months since corporal punishment was banned at schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, a string of incidents seemingly related to the ban has taken place, sparking controversies over the wisdom of the measure. On Dec 16, a male high school student assaulted his female teacher while attempting to leave the classroom. The teacher suffered punches and kicks to her head and body, which landed her in hospital. The incident left many concerned about the state that schools were in after the ban. “As someone who shares the same occupation, I felt extremely outraged when I heard about the incident,” said Kim Jang-won, a high school teacher in Seoul. Further causing outrage among netizens, a viral video that surfaced on Dec. 18 showed a middle school classroom of unruly students asking a young female teacher sexually inappropriate questions, including ones about her first sexual encounter.
..Banning corporal punishment simply to relieve the incitement or protest (of parents) will bring lots of problems,” said Oh Sung-sam professor of education evaluation at Kunkuk University. “It is well intended, but the problem is that teacher’s authority and other necessary issues should have been secured first,” said Kim, whose complaint was unanimous among other teachers as well. Kim Ji-hyeon, a middle school teacher in Seoul, is against the ban on corporal punishment. She said that substitute structures have not been put in place since the ban, so the lack of effective sanctions has left things “very chaotic.” A middle school teacher in Seoul said that although there is no visible change in his classroom, he has noticed more instances of bullying among students. “For most of the students, teachers have a ‘knowhow’ in focusing their attention, but there are always those few that you have to punish, so it’s hard to deal with them,” said Kim Ji-hyeon. “The classroom atmosphere changes quite easily with just one or two kids.” Another middle school teacher in Seoul said that the classroom atmosphere has changed, and that the troublesome students find the new ban as a godsend.