Bullying Moves from Schoolyard to Social Media

  • By Kwak Soo-keun

    August 28, 2019 12:13

    The number of schoolkids who said they were victims of bullying and other violence at school rose by 10,000 over the past year, the Education Ministry said Tuesday.

    Some 60,000 schoolkids said they experienced some form of violence at school this year, according to a study focused on students from fourth grade in elementary school to high school seniors.

    The number who admitted they took part in bullying of another classmate also rose from 13,000 to 22,000 over the same period. It peaked at 47,000 in 2013 and had steadily declined until 2018.

    Elementary schools remain the worst breeding grounds for bullying, and there is a clear trend of bullies getting younger. Some 3.6 percent of elementary schoolkids said they have been bullied, compared to 0.8 percent in middle school and 0.4 percent in high school.

    Bullying also happens increasingly on social media. The survey showed that 35.6 percent of all cases of school violence involved verbal abuse, followed by ostracism (23.2 percent) and cyber bullying (8.9 percent).

    But at least physical violence is fading somewhat while cyber bullying is on the rise. Physical violence accounted for only 8.7 percent of abuse, falling for a third straight year. Cyber bullying at 8.9 percent outpaced physical abuse for the first time since the ministry began surveying school violence in 2013.

    Cyber bullying is still evolving like a malign organism. One elementary school teacher in Seoul said, "We're seeing an increasing variety of abuses such as inviting a student into a group chat and then having everyone else leaving, or inviting a student repeatedly into a group chat to harass him or her."

    Those two fashions of vicious fun have their own names among perpetrators, as does ignoring chat members or abusing them in a chat group they are a member of without ever mentioning their name. "Such cases of bullying are hard to detect, and we learn about them only after a victimized student reports them," another teacher said.

    The most common culprits are classmates with 48.7 percent of abusers, while 30.1 percent are students of the same age in another class, 7.6 percent in the same school but different grades and 3.2 percent in other schools.

    But now 42.2 percent of victims talked to their parents about the abuse they suffered, 26.9 percent consulted their teachers and 10.2 percent their friends or other schoolmates. As many as 18 percent still do not tell anyone about their torment.

    The ministry promised to come up with a new comprehensive plan to prevent and deal with school bullying by the end of the year. 

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