In recent years, South Korea has experienced a series of high-profile celebrity suicides, many of which authorities say have been the consequence of cyber bullying. Now, some middle-school students outside Seoul are working to fight online harassment by posting positive comments on message boards and other forums, according to Voices of America.
The Hogook Middle School in Ilsan is involved in a nationwide program called the Sunfull Movement, which aims to stop personal cyber attacks and to create a more positive atmosphere on the web for young people. Students are encouraged to post positive comments online whenever they encounter negative ones, and to thank, comfort and compliment each other.
According to VOA, cyber bullying is an increasing problem in South Korea. Despite the National Police Agency’s receiving tens of thousands of complaints every year, very little can be done as the attackers are often anonymous.
The majority of South Korean cyber bullies are teenagers hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet, according to a Los Angeles Times article on online assaults. Restricted by the societal mores that discourage them from speaking their minds with parents, teachers and superiors, the youngsters loosen themselves of all cultural inhibitions in front of a computer screen.
The Sunfull Movement’s founder Min Byoung-chul told VOA that South Korea, with its years of experience in dealing with these social problems, can serve as a model for other nations.
“And we can share our knowledge, share our experience, we can he”lp them out as well, because it’s coming,” Min said to VOA. “We are living in this mobile society, this Internet society. So it is our role to bring our efforts together so that we could prevent people from killing themselves from this cyber bullying.”
Since the Hogook Middle School began the Sunfull program, teacher Kim Eun-young said bullying at the school, online and offline, has decreased, and students and teachers are getting along much better.