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Top court says students, parents, schools share responsibility for bullying

SEOUL, Dec. 28 — The nation's top court has upheld a lower court ruling that student perpetrators of bullying, their parents and schools must accept liability for any damage caused by group bullying at school.

The suit for damages was filed by a 22-year-old man, surnamed Kim, who was bullied by classmates while attending a public high school located in a provincial area. The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the seven bullies, their parents and the municipal government operating the school to jointly pay 57 million won (US$ 49,248) in compensation to the victim.

Kim, who is mentally retarded, and his family claimed 700 million won in indemnity for damages, saying he was also diagnosed with schizophrenia in December 2007, after falling victim to more than one year of constant bullying by the classmates.

The court recognized the link between the victim's mental illness and the bullying.

"The bullies may have engaged in these behaviors just for fun. But from the position of the student who was teased and continuously beaten for about a year, their behavior could have been experienced as group bullying, not just simple play," the court said.

"The student perpetrators of the bullying must pay for damages, since Kim developed schizophrenia at the end of a period of constant bullying by the students," it said.

The students' parents also neglected their duty of guiding and controlling their underage children against bullying fellow classmates, it added.

The ruling came as the suicide of a middle school student who was seriously bullied by his school friends in Daegu, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, rocked the nation last week.

On Monday, the education ministry vowed to come up with comprehensive measures to better protect students from school violence and bullying. (PNA/Yonhap)

DCT/rsm

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