Corporal 'Punishment' in Korean Schools?
I've been debating whether to post on this issue of corporal punishment in Korean schools, for I've not researched it and am not sure what to say in general, but from things that my daughter has told me, I think that I ought to post something on this issue. I don't want to post a lot of images, but I did find a website with some photos, e.g., the two below -- the first of a boy, the second of a girl -- showing students in Korea being subjected to corporal punishment:
The site is Corpun: World Corporal Punishment Research, and it seems to consist merely of reports and images, including videos, but offers no opinion, pro or con, on the issue. I looked at some of the videos showing corporal punishment in Korea, and the ones that I viewed didn't portray the worst that I have seen elsewhere on the internet. In fact, the punishment that I viewed on Corpun was only a bit harsher than what my own Ozark school imposed when I was attending way back in the 1960s and 1970s.
What my daughter has told me of 'punishment' in her school is far worse and shows some teachers out of control.
Let me begin with the least objectionable. One young female teacher told her class never to ask the question "Why?" My daughter, surprised, innocently asked, "Why not?" She received ten stinging slaps with a ruler upon her open palms. Now, this sort of punishment was never inflicted in my school, and it seems worse to me than being paddled on one's butt . . . but that might be because I've only been paddled and never struck on my hands.
Paddlings are applied in Korea, of course, as the images above make clear. But these blows with a stick can land not only on the buttocks but also upon the upper legs and even the calves. The buttocks provide some padding for protection, but blows against the legs can damage blood vessels and therefore seems far more like abuse to me . . . and thus even worse than a mere ruler applied to the open palms (though everything depends upon the severity of the blows).
Worse than either of these two are the blows with a hand or even a stick to the upper body and particularly the head, including the face. My daughter has received only the ruler to her hands but has observed these other 'punishments'. Often, the teacher who strikes on the upper body with hand or stick is reacting suddenly, emotionally, and at times uses fists rather than just slaps.
Far worse than these are reports from my daughter of a particular male teacher who attacks student not just with slaps, fists, and sticks but even by knocking them down, stepping on them, and kicking them -- as well as generally humiliating them, for example, by forcing them to lie under his desk for an hour while he 'teaches'. Incidently, he 'teaches' social studies, a subject that includes the social ethics of proper behavior.
I asked my daughter what the other students think about all these 'punishments', and she tells me that they don't like any of it but that they think that it's normal. Only Sa-Rah seems to question it, perhaps because Sun-Ae and I have raised her to ask questions and think for herself.
I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to be the 'troublemaking' outsider who causes 'problems', nor do I want to draw attention to my own kids, who are already different enough by being half-Korean. But this man who teaches social studies really has no business dealing with children since he can't restrain himself from striking and kicking them. My wife asked another mother about this man, and she said that she'd heard nothing but promised to ask her son, who subsequently confirmed what my daughter had reported. I think that Korean parents ought to be the ones to act, but they seem not to show much interest in this issue, being focused almost entirely on the grades and test scores that their children receive.
Even worse, according to my daughter, very many of the children receive the same kind of physical punishment at home, so they don't imagine that the world can be different . . . and I suppose that this also implies that their parents don't imagine this either.
For those readers who live in a very different world and have trouble imagining the sort of abuse that Korean students too often face, here's a 38-second video on You Tube to clarify the sort of thing that I'm writing about.