Tuesday 16 July 2019

Parents hire fake 'tough uncles' to protect children from school bullies


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Nicola Smith in Seoul

South Korean parents are hiring muscular, tattooed men to pose as fake "uncles" to protect their children from bullies at school.

According to local media reports, multiple companies are offering different packages, ranging from $450 to $1,790 (€1,570) a day, to desperate parents to ensure that their children are safe from aggressive classmates.

For the straightforward "uncle package", a man in his 30s or 40s will reportedly walk the student to and from school and sternly warn bullies off.

The so-called "evidence package" offers an upgrade where the "uncle" will film the bullies in action and present the findings to the school. Under this deal, he will threaten to make the video public if there is no remedial action.

Meanwhile, the "chaperone package" deploys the more high-profile tactic of visiting the bullies' parents at their workplace and publicly shaming them.

The unusual new service, which exists in a legal grey area and may be linked to underground gang culture, appears to have grown out of fears that bullying in schools is rising unchecked and pushing some children towards suicide.

Suicide is the most common cause of death among young Koreans between the ages of 15 and 24. According to the 'Chicago Policy Review', researchers believe it is connected to the fiercely competitive academic environment and bullying behaviour at school.

Noh Yoon-ho, a Seoul-based lawyer who specialises in school violence cases, said there had been an uptick in legal action over bullying since she began practising in that field in 2012.

"The problem here is that adults have the tendency to ignore it, they just think of it as kids fighting, and the bigger problems come after that… kids commit suicide," she said.

However, some parents were resorting to the new anti-bullying service even before consulting lawyers, she said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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