The Korea Herald


Resources to protect kids on way to school inadequate: report

By Choi Jeong-yoon

Published : May 13, 2024 - 15:09

    • Link copied

(Getty Image) (Getty Image)

Despite South Korea witnessing an alarming average of over 89,000 children involved in traffic accidents annually for the past three years, recent data unveiled on Monday that Seoul suffers from inadequate resources to safeguard them from such accidents within school zones.

Typically, elementary schools need at least six people per school to guide and direct students at crosswalks near schools. However, across the country's 565 public elementary schools, a total of 767 staff responsible for traffic safety have been allocated, leaving each school on average with fewer than two dedicated personnel (1.36), according to a report by the Korean Federation of Teachers Union.

Depending on the circumstances and budget, safety levels differ among Seoul's 25 autonomous districts, according to the union. While elementary schools in Jung-gu, located in central Seoul, have an average of six traffic safety personnel, Mapo-gu in the western part of the capital city had the lowest number of such personnel, recording 0.05 per school on average, over 100 times less than Jung-gu's elementary schools.

Dedicated personnel for student traffic safety are hired autonomously by each district and usually get paid for around two hours of labor as children head to school in the morning.

Meanwhile, insufficient resources burden parents, as the void is filled by parent volunteers. Parents at schools that lack resources take turns once a semester, or even once a month to guide students at crosswalks.

A 34-year-old working mother surnamed Lee says this is a big burden.

“As a working mom, I can barely help my children get ready for school. If it's my turn to volunteer in the morning to help students with traffic safety, I have to ask my own parents or sometimes even hire a part-time substitute when it's my turn,” Lee told The Korea Herald.

According to the Korea Insurance Development Institute, the number of traffic accidents involving children was estimated at 89,112 in 2023. Those aged 7 -- typically first graders in Korea -- took up the highest share of children involved in such traffic accidents.

Three out of five traffic accidents that take place within school zones occur as children are crossing at crosswalks.

“Asking parents to volunteer on the way to school is too much of a burden,” said an education official. “Since the outside of the school area is not the property of the Ministry of Education, it's the responsibility of local governments and police agencies. As the situation is different for each school, it is necessary to increase the budget.”