The Seoul Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday that the response rate of school violence among students has dropped sharply from 14.2 percent in 2012 to two percent in 2022.
Touting the role of school police officers, who assist school administrators maintain a safe and secure environment, the police said that the number of students arrested for school violence also declined from 3,257 to 2,014, down 38.2 percent.
In addition, the number of youth arrested for crimes also fell by nearly 50 percent, from 20,769 in 2012 to 8,572 in 2022. The recidivism rate for juvenile offenders also decreased from 37.9 percent to 23.9 percent for the same period.
“(The police) will continue to strengthen the SPO’s capabilities and do our best to make it a true partner for the youth,” said Kim Kwang-ho, the chief of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, during a seminar to mark the 10th anniversary of the SPO that was held on Nov. 22.
School police officers were first launched on Feb. 20, 2013, with some 208 personnel to respond to concerns over campus violence. Currently, there are 1,022 school police officers dispatched nationwide, according to police data received by Rep. Yoo Ki-hong of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea.
Police, however, said schools saw an increase in verbal violence, as well as incidents of sexual violence, and called for beefed-up measures to prevent such cases from happening. According to police, sexual violence cases increased from 42 in 2012 to 473 in 2022. In the same period, verbal abuse cases also climbed from 78 to 162.
They also stressed enhanced measures in tackling rising drug crimes and gambling among students, citing their stark increase in recent years.
The number of juveniles arrested for drug-related crimes from January to October stood at 183, about a 300 percent increase from 46 in the same period last year. The number of adolescents caught for gambling was 28, up 11 from last year.
During the Korean National Police Agency’s National Office of Investigation’s special crackdown on illegal online gambling sites targeting adolescents from Sept. 25 to Nov. 10, 39 out of the 353 arrested were juveniles. Most of them started gambling through their friends, out of curiosity or through online gambling advertisements.
In light of such incidents, Kim said the police will improve its response system in line with the changing security environment.