Recently, South Korea is being rocked by the ‘School Me Too Movement’. This movement raises awareness about sexual violence in schools. In other words, it is the Me Too movement but at schools, especially middle schools and high schools. The Sookmyung Times covered the development of the Me Too movement in the article, ‘Silence Breakers, Time’s Up’ in its 342nd edition, but the first Me Too movement at schools in Korea started at Yonghwa Girls’ High School in Seoul in April of this year. Students were upset at the sexual violence by teachers that were not gaining much public attention. The crimes at Chungbuk Girls’ Middle School strengthened the movement. By 15 September, about 40 schools had joined the School Me Too movement. On September 13, #95thmetoo started appearing on the Facebook page of the School Me Too movement managed by the women’s committee of the Korean Teachers & Educational Worker’s Union. According to Hankyoreh 21’s analysis of 77 of the cases reported on the School Me Too page occurred at secondary school; that is, 88.8% of victims were enrolled secondary school students. 79.4% of the assailants were school teachers. These findings clearly show that the level of violence at school is serious. Among the sexual crimes are molestation, harassment, sexist remarks, and discriminative remarks against sexual minorities. This is cause for alarm. Schools are not safe in Korea. For example, there is the case of an outsider coming on school grounds and illegal filming female students, which sparked the movement at Chungbuk Girl’s Middle School. Rage towards the illegal filming expanded and eventually uncovered additional sexual violence cases in the school. The illegal filming of people, or spycam, has already sparked nationwide outrage against sexual violence.
Experts are now analyzing the closed school culture in Korea, which regards sex as taboo and is responsible for the increase in sexual crimes at school. Most victims of sexual crime in schools are students, and most of their attackers are teachers, so the victims must show great courage to stand up to their assailants. For instance, students in Korea are well aware of teachers’ influence on their ability to enter a particular high school or university. Also, the lenient punishment given to convicted persons deters victims from coming forth. Because victims risk backlash and secondary damage when their attackers return to school with incomplete thought. Sexual crimes should be eliminated from society, and schools should be safe havens from sexual violence, so the School Me Too movement is using its platform to make these possible. However, the road to achieving these objectives is long. There is urgent need for the government to establish new laws and increase the severity of disciplinary action. Also, the government should protect victims by hiding their identity from their assailants, deleting SNS account for disclosure by school. The Ministry of Education should also make feminism a mandatory subject for students and retrain records of school personnel so that these crimes will be eliminated. Above all, society should stop asking, “Why were you not careful?” Instead, comment with, “We stand with you” and support the victims.
1) Jieun Son, ""Big Is Not Pretty”…Reason Why #SchoolMeToo Spreads", OhmyNews, September 15, 2018