Group bullying has increased a lot recently in elementary and middle schools in South Korea. But not only Korean pupils are affected by this phenomenon, foreign students or children of multicultural background are very often the target. Surveys found that foreign student face all kinds of discrimination. They are being bullied because of their accents, different skin color, of their home country and hence they seem to be “easy targets” for group bullying and school violence.
Not only is the school situation already weakening the children’s self-esteem and childhood, but also the often poor living conditions at home. In many cases multicultural families have a hard time adapting to South Korea or are not able to live a financially or emotionally stable life, since also the divorce rate is rising steadily.
Needless to say, this kind of environment has a great influence on children and can lead very quickly to mental anxiety and depression. Moreover the dropout rate of these pupils in opposition to average pupils is striking. The rate amounts to 10% and in middle school to 20%, compared to average student rates as 0.06% and 0.09%. Additionally the increasing number of children of multicultural families or migrants, should be just one of many warning signs, that if the government keeps ignoring the problem, it will become an even bigger social issue. The number of underage children of Korean and Foreign parents, or both parents being foreign, was at 151.154 last year. But in comparison to 2010 the number was only at 29.129. So, although the continuous increasing rate of multicultural families and its severe results as school violence, seem to be so obvious, the government and schools, as society, turn a blind eye to it, while they should actually be deeply concerned and finally take meaningful measures.
In the opinion of Mr. Byeongho Jeong the global multiculturalism research director and professor of cultural anthropology at Hanyang University and other experts, the prejudices and reputation inside South Korean society against multicultural families have to change first from looking at them only creating more expenses for the country to being necessary for future industrial growth and a diverse, multicultural society, that is unavoidable. When it comes to methods to build up this society and especially support these children, education about multiculturalism has to start very early in elementary school, in which a friendly and mutually understanding atmosphere can be developed.