The number of Korean teenagers involved in acts of serious sexual violence such as rape has risen significantly in the last two years, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
The Ministry compiled reports of sexual abuse from the National Police Agency as well as municipal and provincial education offices across the country. The results of the study show that the number of victims of rape or sexual assault under the age of 20 has jumped 44 percent over the past two years.
The number of teenage assailants in such cases has also increased by 60 percent. The number of teenage victims has been on a steady rise, from 3,787 in 2005, 5,159 in 2006, to 5,460 in 2007. Likewise, the number of offenders under 20 years of age has soared, from 1,329 in 2005, 1,811 in 2006, to 2,136 in 2007. As the number of teens who committed sex crimes increased, so did the number of students punished by their schools, from 54 in 2005, 110 in 2006, to 105 in just the first half of 2007.
Experts point to a superficial sex education curriculum and a lack of professional personnel responsible for conducting such classes as major reasons behind the phenomenon.
According to guidelines set out by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, elementary and secondary schools are required to include 10 hours of sex education -- of which two should be on sexual violence and one on prostitution -- in their curriculum per year.
The Ministry, contending that an environment of easy access to pornography through the Internet and cable television is partially responsible for the increase in sexual crimes, is also considering changing "youth protection times" on TV.
The current Youth Protection Act stipulates that 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. during vacation season and weekends, and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on paid channels is off-limits for adult-rated programs.