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School CP - June 2002

Korea Herald, Seoul, 28 June 2002

New rules on corporal punishment stoke controversy

By Lee Jae-hee
Staff reporter

Controversy is simmering over the Education Ministry's new guidelines on corporal punishment at schools.

Teachers are saying the set of new guidelines is an impractical proposition devised by education bureaucrats, while students are asking whether they can now sue teachers who kick or beat them.

The Education Ministry announced Wednesday revised regulations on corporal punishment, which allow teachers to give high school students up to 10 whacks using wooden sticks with a diameter less than 1.5 cm and length less than 60 cm. The regulations will take effect this fall.

Male students can be hit only on the buttocks and female students only on the thighs, and the punishment cannot be meted out in the presence of other students. Another teacher or school official, such as a vice principal or guidance counselor, has to be present when the student is being punished. Those facing corporal punishment have the right to ask for a different form of discipline.

Elementary and middle school students can be struck with a wooden stick whose diameter and length do not exceed 1 cm and 50 cm, respectively. Elementary school students can be hit up to five times, while middle school students up to 10 times.

Students, teachers and parents have posted numerous messages opposing the new guidelines on the Web sites of the Education Ministry and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

One Netizen lamented the fact that teachers now have to measure the length of the rod to punish students, saying the authority of teachers has already diminished. "This guideline on physical punishment is the most deplorable measure devised by bureaucrats," the author said.

A teacher said online that the new regulation would not help students who need "proper guidance" without the threat of force.

A spokesman at the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations said the new regulations merely provides teachers and students yet another ground for dispute, since some measures are quite unreasonable and vague.

"Students, teachers and parents should be the ones to devise ways of guiding students that suit each school," he said.

One Netizen, who is a high school student in Seoul, asked whether teachers who kick and hit with their fists would disappear with the creation of the new corporal punishment rules.

"There are still teachers in my school who hit. Is it possible to report these teachers after we get thumped?" he asked.

Yoon Jee-hee, chairwoman of the National Association of Parents for True Education, said a regulation on corporal punishment should be devised only after teachers, parents and students have reached a consensus.

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