South Korea has passed new teacher protection laws aimed at preventing mistreatment by parents.
The reforms follow weeks of protests by thousands of Korean teachers in response to a growing trend of parents accusing staff of child abuse.
According to the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union, 60% of teachers have either been reported for child abuse or know another teacher who has.
Under current laws, teachers in South Korea face an automatic suspension if reported for child abuse.
Teachers can legally be accused of abuse even when no evidence has been provided to substantiate claims against them.
Staff at several schools have claimed parents are taking advantage of that rule and maliciously abusing child welfare laws by making false allegations of abuse.
Many teachers say the risk of accusation has undermined their ability to do their jobs.
The reform follows the recent death of a young primary school teacher in Seoul, suspected of having died by suicide.
An official investigation found the 23-year-old had experienced issues with a parent of a student and “was having difficulties running the homeroom”.
Government data suggests around 100 public school teachers died by suicide from 2018 to June this year. Most were at primary schools.
The Government has amended four bills, known collectively as “Teacher Rights Restoration Bills”, to strengthen South Korea’s teacher protection.
Teachers will no longer face automatic suspensions from work following a child abuse complaint. Instead, a formal investigation with evidence must occur before any disciplinary action.
Teachers fighting lawsuits will get financial support.
The Federation of Teachers’ Trade Unions has praised the Bill.
“We believe that this legislation will make great progress in protecting teachers’ right to education and students’ right to learn, but there are many shortcomings,” said Chairman Kim Yong-seo.
The federation called for additional reforms, including for the Government to legally allow teachers to separate disruptive students from class.