[KoTEX Issue No.5] Consciousness and Media: Addressing Contemporary School Violence Globally
April 25, 2023 - The United Nations estimates that 246 million girls and boys worldwide are victims of school violence each year (UN, 2022). Many countries have addressed school violence issues and developed programs to tackle this problem. However, dealing with school violence on a global scale can be challenging since it is defined and dealt with differently in nations across the globe. Moreover, patterns of school violence shift based on socioeconomic and cultural changes. As a consequence, despite years of research on the subject, most countries are still struggling to tackle the issue of school violence.
Physical bullying is the most prevalent type of bullying in Asia; females are somewhat more likely than boys to report psychological bullying; and physical appearance is regarded as the primary motivation for bullying. In Sweden and other Nordic nations, research on school violence has taken place from a psychological perspective and placed a particular emphasis on bullying. The United States, on the other hand, has focused its attention on cyberbullying, particularly among vulnerable student groups. Furthermore, the tragic number of school shooting incidents has continued to escalate, aggravating the nation’s school violence crisis.
Four types of school violence are addressed worldwide: cyberbullying, psychological violence, sexual assault, and physical violence. School violence today might involve one student harming another student or a group of students harming several students. Such incidents are not limited to students, however. Teachers can also be found engaging in bullying or harming one or more students. Violence in schools may be brought on by a variety of factors, including drugs and alcohol. With the growing presence of technology in society, we are now also witnessing the recording and distribution of humiliating videos of victims. Because school violence can take many forms, it can be challenging for schools to identify and manage it, let alone decide how to even start addressing it. More importantly, patterns and trends in school violence can rapidly shift as a result of popular culture or changes in student attitudes toward school violence. For instance, physical bullying can sometimes be more obvious and easier to detect than psychological bullying. Teasing or gossiping is often far more difficult to observe. Cyberbullying is another kind of school violence that has grown in frequency as more students have access to smartphones and the Internet, making it more difficult to govern and control such behavior. Additionally, not all children report incidents of school violence, and when there is an imbalance of power—for example when teachers and administrators abuse students—it is extremely difficult to support student victims in schools.
As a result, media outlets frequently utilize accounts concerning adolescents who have been victims of school violence to raise awareness of this issue. The Glory, a popular recent South Korean Netflix series, demonstrates how school violence is committed, how it is dealt with, and the heartbreaking results. The story of Moon Dong-eun, a high school student who was brutally and ruthlessly abused by her classmates, instructors, and mother, may point to a reality experienced by many students today. The series demonstrates an even more sinister aspect of how school violence is dealt with in contemporary culture, demonstrating how young students who commit acts of school violence use their family status and/or privilege to get away with their crimes. Media portrayals of school violence have been around for a while, but more recent stories like The Glory have made them more visible. The Glory can also be read as a metaphor for a variety of global issues, including teen suicide, drug abuse, and parental neglect.
As a result of the drastically changing dynamics of schools and student demographics, it is anticipated that school violence will continue to be a significant problem in all societies and will require greater scrutiny. Although these concerns have received a lot of attention from many different facets of society, including the media and academia, it appears that more has to be done to address the issue at the federal and local levels. Doing so will allow for the application of preventative efforts targeted at a specific population of students who reside in the region. Additionally, discourse on the subject will help raise awareness as media outlets continue to spotlight school violence and headlines progressively feature explicit depictions of the reality of school violence.
Providing young students with a sense of safety in the classroom and reducing any side effects of school violence, such as depression and suicide, are the primary objectives of all anti-school violence initiatives. In light of this, it is more important than ever to monitor whether media coverage of school violence has a positive or negative effect. Furthermore, it is also necessary to observe patterns in school violence influenced by changes in popular culture. Although there is no perfect strategy for preventing school violence, educating the public about the many types of school violence and raising awareness of the problem through the media can be effective strategies for providing targeted assistance to victims.
About the Author
Ms. Amy Suna Kim, Program Coordinator
Amy Suna Kim recently graduated with a master’s degree in International Studies from the Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University. Before this, Amy lived in the U.S., where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Religion at Cornell College. Amy is not new to Asia Society. Previously, she assisted our colleagues at Asia Society Philippines as a program management intern. Amy will be responsible for brainstorming new ideas for upcoming projects and raising the visibility of Asia Society Korea across various audiences. She is fluent in both English and Korean.