February 10, 2012 09:37
Juvenile school dropouts and runaways are emerging as a main source of school violence.
According to the National Police Agency, there were only 9,390 runaways between 14 and 19 until 2006 but their number crossed the 15,000 mark in 2008, and jumped to 20,438 last year.
Data released by nationwide education offices shows that 16,320 middle schoolchildren and 33,782 high school students had dropped out or been expelled from school as of February.
Many of them then run away from home and go completely outside the control of teachers or parents. Police believe that the easiest way for them to get money is to hang around near schools and beat up pupils and extort money from them.
"Many runaways and dropouts tend to use violence to rob students of money so they can support themselves," a police officer said. "They tend to become more violent now that they are out of school."
"While the violence from runaways and dropouts is causing concerns, what is more serious is that they easily drift into adult crime, like the sex trade and organized crime," said Shin Soon-kap of the Youth Violence Prevention Foundation. "The government should give top priority to the issue."
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