SEOUL, Sept. 12 (Korea Bizwire) – The Seoul Metropolitan Council passed a new amendment bill earlier this month that will discourage the use of hate speech in schools under the city’s new student rights ordinance.
Back in March, an elementary school teacher caused controversy after calling a student with an ethnic minority background ‘China’, as well as joining other students in calling the child the racially motivated nickname.
Despite a growing number of similar cases of discrimination based on sex, religion, nationality and sexual orientation being reported amid an increase in the number of multicultural households in the country, education authorities had little to no grounds to intervene.
With the new reform bill that passed earlier this month, education authorities will have more power to deal with hate speech incidents at schools in the South Korean capital.
Despite not having legal power, the new amendment to the city’s student rights ordinance could work as a set of guidelines for school officials to take into consideration when dealing with discrimination cases at school.
Kim Gyeong-ja, the official who proposed the amendment, said, “Discrimination and hate speech can hinder students’ ability to grow into members of a democratic society.
“We want to create an environment where school members refrain from using hateful expressions to discriminate against others.”
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, the number of complaints of discrimination during the student rights counseling application process filed by students from 2012 to the second quarter of this year amounted to 143 cases.
Over the same period of time, there were 766 complaints filed by students who experienced verbal abuse, accounting for 17 percent of all complaints.
Data from last year shows nearly one in four applications for counseling and help services were to do with discrimination and verbal abuse, reflecting the growing use of sexist and discriminatory terms on the internet in recent years.
The use of sexist terms like ‘Kimchi Nyeo (kimchi woman)’ and ‘Hannam-Chung (Korean male pest)’, as well as other derogatory terms aimed at socially marginalized members of society such as disabled people has been on the rise in recent years.
“With the new amendment bill, we now have grounds to treat hate speech as a breach of human rights. It’s meaningful in that the Ministry of Education can now play a more active role in dealing with discrimination at school,” said Yun Myeong-hwa, an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)