Sexual Harassment - How to Prevent It:

Sexual Harassment has been a hot topic in the Korean media lately, especially related to the school environment. You'll be working around kids, and many of them are adorable. Many of them also love to run up to you and give you a giant hug and/or grab onto your legs while you try to walk away. Here are some tips to help keep you aware, and to prevent any awkward situations:

Tips on How to Avoid False Accusation of Sexual Harassment

Limit physical contact with students.

Close proximity is a part of Korean culture. But, we ask that you try to limit the amount of physical contact with your students in order to avoid accusations. This does not mean push away students who deserve praise or to avoid ANY physical contact, just be conscious of whn and how physical contact occurs.

Keep a third party handy.

For most of us, being alone at school is not an option. We either have a co-teacher with us in class or are surrounded by teachers in our office. Thus, having a third party is usually not a problem. However, there are times when it is unavoidable. If ever a third party is not present and the situation becomes risky, we suggest that you politely leave. Also, you can always act busy. If you tell students that you are busy they will understand and leave you alone.

Don't be overly friendly with your students.

This simply means avoid giving your students too much praise and having frequent contact with them. Spending time with your students is fine, such as playing basketball with them during lunch, but limit your time with them -- Finish the task or activity at hand and go your own way.

Avoid giving too many treats.

While it's a fine practice to give treats once in awhile, you definitely want to avoid spoiling them. Treats should only be given out once or twice a semester. Giving away too many treats may have adverse effects; students may follow you around and bug you for more; students will not respond in class unless treats are available; students won't take you seriously...etc. Plus, your student could choke on the candy and you don't want to be the one responsible if that happens. Ultimately, you also don't want to be seen as trying too hard to be close to your students, so watch the treats.

Minimize contact with students after school hours.

In Korea, the relationship between student and teacher is much closer than in Western society. In is common to see teachers out with their students having dinner, plsaying sports or casually talking. But since mere rumors can break reputations, make an effort to refrain from having contact with your students after school. If a student somehow has your number and is texing you like crazy, don't respond. You don't want to add fuel to the fire.

Maintain the student-teacher relationship.

This is perhaps the most effective method to maintain a comfortable distance between you and your students while productively being able to do your job. There are many times when the boundaries of a student-teacher relationship are blurred , allowing students to see the teacher as a friend more than a teacher. When this happens, students will be more touchy and closer to you in proximity. You may just be trying to be friendly, but it is more than likely your student will lose respect for you as a teacher. The best way to avoid risky situations is to keep the respect of your students at all times. Here are some tips to help, but remember this can be done in many different ways!
  • Have your students call you Miss/Ms/Mr or teacher. Korean students feel more comfortable using honorifics.
  • Don't be afraid to discipline. Many students see you as more of an entertainer than a teacher. Feel free to call the kids out if they are not keeping to the rules of the classroom, don't always rely on your co-teacher.
  • Take command of your classroom when necessary, and make sure your co-teacher and you have as close to an equal presence in your classroom.

*As teachers, we are all responsible to report to the authorities when we witness sexual harassment or notice suspicious behavior. When you perceive sexual harassment, report it immediately to your co-teacher, vice-principal, and principal (while strictly adhering to confidentiality). The authorities will take the appropriate measures and medical/couseling assistance will provided to the victim.