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The World for All National Human Rights Commission of Korea is always with you

Result of Inquiry into the Human Rights Situation of Student Athletes - Physical Abuse 78.8%, Sexual Abuse 63.8% -

  • 2008-12-18
  • 478
The Commission released its final report on the human rights situation (right to education, physical abuse, and sexual abuse) of middle and high school student athletes on November 19 after the Industry Collaboration Foundation of Ehwa University conducted research for 6 months from May 2 to November 1, 2008 (questionnaires to 1,139 students, depth interviews to 30 students, and interviews to 10 experts). The primary contents of the report are as follows.
Physical Violence
Upon investigation, research shows that 78.8% of student athletes experienced verbal and physical violence during training. (25% of respondents experienced violence once or twice a week and 5 % experienced everyday.) Impacts from the violence are: ‘They make me want to quit sports.’ (56.4%); ‘I get angry.’ (45.3%); and ‘I think I need more training’ (20.1%). 66.4% of female student athletes and 47.1% of male student athletes answered they wanted to quit sports, suggesting that violence has more negative influence on female than male student athletes.

The primary perpetrators of violence were coaches and senior student athletes. Sport leaders’ violence leads to reproduced physical violence and beatings among student athletes. In addition, violence takes place at training camps and this shows that unofficial violence should also be redressed to decrease physical abuse in school sports.

Sexual Violence

63.8% of the respondents said that they experienced sexual violence. 58.3% of them experienced verbal sexual harassment and 25.4% of them experienced sexual assault. Even 1% (12 student athletes) and 1.5% (17 student athletes) of them were asked for sexual intercourse or a sexual relationship, respectively.

Meanwhile, student athletes’ coping measures were more active in response to sexual abuse than physical abuse. 56.9% of them answered that they said ‘No.’ and asked wrongdoers to stop. 43.3% asked for help from their families, teachers or friends. It is because physical abuse is accepted as physical discipline for student athletes, unlike sexual abuse.
Right to Education

High school student athletes reportedly attended class 2 hours or 4.4 hours a day on average. It was also reported that their right to education was violated, as 82.1% of them could not be provided supplementary lessons.

Results of the interview on right to education showed a more severe reality. Many of student athletes attend morning classes but they usually surfed the internet or slept during classes because they were unable to keep up with the classes. Participating in the National Youth Games from elementary school becomes an impetus for them to give up on studying. Even some high school student athletes said they had to re-study ‘addition and subtraction.’
Policy Proposal - Comprehensive human rights policy for student athletes

This fact-finding research reveals the urgent necessity of implementing policy and prevention measures to support and protect victims of physical and sexual abuse. Through the result and evaluation of previous policies, the report suggests: policy change based on human rights perspectives, prevention of human rights infringement, establishment of policy to improve human rights awareness, comprehensive human rights policy for student athletes for protection of victims, and policy support. Based on the policy recommendation of the report, the Commission will propose effective policies after gathering opinions from various fields.
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