Monday, January 2, 2012

Suicides draw attention to bullying at school, South Korea

A recent spate of student suicides has drawn attention to school bullying, with some cases hushed up to save schools’ reputations, leading victims to distrust their schools and teachers.

Reported cases of bullying at schools sharply increased last year from 5,606 in 2009 to 7,823 last year, although the number had fallen by about 3,000 between 2008 and 2009, according to a national survey.

According to the Teenage Violence Prevention Center, 14,939 students have asked for help with bullying this year. Of them, 520 students considered suicide and 1,392 suffered from depression, the center said.

In one shocking case, a bullied middle school girl was left suffering from severe posttraumatic stress due to bullying last year, according to TVPC on Tuesday.

Another high school student in Seoul nearly died last September after swallowing several heart disease pills, but was saved when her mother found her.

Students often don’t report their problems until the last minute because they are afraid of retaliation and hesitate to tell their parents because of conflict with them, according to Kim Bok-in, a counselor for bullied teenagers in Seoul. Students who are very shy also often don’t report, added Kim.

A 14-year-old boy who leapt to his death in Daegu last week after being bullied wrote in a suicide note that he had been hit 39 times and received threatening text messages even at night from his two classmates, according to the Daegu Police investigating the case. Read More