Cases of sexual abuse of teenagers in South Korea rose for the second straight year in 2013, with a sharp increase in the number of male victims, a lawmaker said Friday.
The number of teenage victims of sex crimes went from 7,893 in 2011 to 8,808 in 2012 and 9,721 in 2013, according to police data revealed by Rep. Lee Cheol-woo of the Saenuri Party. Most victims were female, but the number of male victims was 506, marking a 75 per cent increase from two years earlier.
"Considering that most teenage victims are reluctant to report such incidents to the authorities, it can be assumed that the problem (of sexual abuse among teens) is even graver than the numbers suggest," Lee said.
He said that although it was important to come up with punishment for the offenders, authorities must first cook up measures to prevent these crimes, such as reinforcing police patrols around schools.
The malady of sex-related crimes among minors has become a dire issue in Korea.
According to a 2014 data by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, some 9,128 minors were either raped, molested or forced into prostitution from 2007 to 2012.
The majority of the offenders were adults, but 8.5 per cent were minors, including fellow students. Last month, a group of high school students were arrested and charged with coercing a fellow student into prostitution.
Many of the sex crimes in schools are not properly dealt with, due to the victims' unwillingness to report the case or lenient punishment of perpetrators.
Earlier this week, an Education Ministry data showed that nearly half of teachers who committed sexual crimes have retained their posts. While the law prohibits convicted offenders from working at schools, there is no regulation to bar offenders from schools if the abuse is settled out of court.
In 2012, an elementary school teacher in Incheon was found to have physically and sexually abused his second-grade students. The case prompted public furor when it was revealed that the school asked the parents to settle the case amicably, saying the male teacher could not work at another school if they declined its request.