Are your middle and high school children alright? Are your children in good relationships with their friends at school? Do your children enjoy talking with their friends on their smartphones?"
Are your sons OK in their military service? Are your sons in good health living in their barracks? Are you happy with your sons' military service?
Last year, most Korean parents were stressed about their children's school lives because many youngsters committed suicide by jumping from apartment buildings due to bulling by their schoolmates, through which a great number of unimaginable and appalling incidents of violence among students were unveiled.
Unfortunately, it is not a coincidence that the death of a soldier, surnamed Yoon, is shaking the nation because of the hellish violence he endured in the Army such as licking phlegm, eating toothpaste and being beaten, which led to the young man's death. What is worse, another soldier, named Lim, shot some of his fellow soldiers to death because he was bullied and left out in the cold.
Have you ever thought of the causes of violence in school and the Army? What do you think about education in Korea? Do you think there are any kinds of education for manners, morality and human relationships at home and school? Have you ever thought that violence in the Army is just a more grownup version of the school violence which drove the whole nation into a whirlpool of anger and frustration?
Regrettably Korean parents have a strong tendency to overprotect their children rather than educate them about how be more considerate of others. What do you think about school education? Are there any kinds of school education for public manners and etiquette, and thoughtful consideration of others, which is vital for them to lead a more well-adjusted life?
Do you remember what kinds of measures the government took against school violence last year? It is really a matter of regret that the government left no stones unturned to take strong measures against school violence in order to subdue it, rather than take preventive measures like getting family and school education on the right track for enhancing the humanity and morality of children. Consequently, is school violence reduced at school now? It goes without saying that a suppressive crackdown on school violence is sure to bring about another kind of violence, like cyber-bullying via computer or smartphones.
Needless to say, it is believed that all kinds of violence in the Army are based on the school violence soldiers experienced years ago in their middle and high school days. Moreover, the Army is thought to be a special society because of the deep-rooted and widespread consciousness that regards beating and other forms of physical violence as a "necessary evil" for maintaining order and discipline. That reminds me of my military service of 26 months, which was full of inhumane and physical violence that was taken for granted years ago.
Now is the time to think about what is most essential to root out all kinds of violence in all the aspects of our society as a long-term action or policy, rather than stopgap remedies for recovering humanity and morality at home, in school education and the military.
The writer is an English teacher at Jeonnam Middle School in Gwangju. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.