Home > Children, Education, Women's Rights > Teen Single Mothers Being Turned Down By Schools

Teen Single Mothers Being Turned Down By Schools

Sun Jul 18, 2010

by Ji-Su Park

In April 2009, Kim, an 18-year-old single mother, was forced to drop out of her high school when some teachers found out about her pregnancy. Following this, Kim’s mother filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) claiming that her daughter’s right to education was violated by the school. NHRCK declared that Kim’s school was violating the NHRCK policy article 2 clause 4 “The use of educational facilities for the purpose of pregnancy and birth”  Although at first the school maintained that Kim’s expulsion was necessary to protect other students from a “bad influence,” they later followed the NHRCK’s recommendation and let Kim recommence her studies.

Today, 5,000 to 6,000 Korean teenage girls become single mothers like Kim, but not all of them can go back to school. On March 16 of this year, the NHRCK held an open discussion at the National Assembly regarding the right to education for unwed teenage mothers. According to NHRCK’s surveys from 2007 and 2008, 74% of teachers believe that a pregnant student would have a bad influence on other students at school, while 81% of teen single mothers want to continue studying.

During the discussion, Han Sang-soon, director of Aeranwon, a Christian organization for unwed mothers, said that teen single mothers need decent jobs to support themselves and their children. In order to get good jobs, teenage single mothers must continue studying at their schools. They maintain the importance of education for a more comfortable future.

Some schools however, are reluctant to let pregnant teenage girls continue studying. They argue that pregnant teen students corrupt the morality of the students around them and as a result many pregnant girls must consider abortion in order to stay in school. The male fathers however, are allowed to continue studying, issuing a question of gender equality.

HOW KOREAN GOVERNMENT IS HANDLING THE SITUATION TODAY

–         Because of low fertility rate, the government is currently very anti-abortion (pro-choice) today. The problem is that the government does not really have social infrastructures to help single mothers at all. (Abortion is illegal, but there are exceptions according to 모자보건법 – in case of rape, hereditary diseases, etc.).

–         For the first time ever, the government decided to financially help the unmarried single mothers as a part of 위기가정 지원책 last year.

OTHER ADVANCED NATIONS’ EXAMPLES (U.S., United Kingdom, France, etc.?)

WHAT KOREAN SOCIETY (GOVERNMENT AND SCHOOLS) NEED TO DO

–         More health care service and medical help for unmarried single mothers

–         More financial support for unmarried single mothers

–         Establish more social infrastructures before promoting anti-abortion policies

–         Need more policies to control the “unmarried fathers” rather than “unmarried mothers”

–         More counseling service for teen single mothers

–         Sex education

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