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The perils of helicopter parenting: a loss of empathy in the pursuit of perfection

By The Charger Account Editorial Staff Sept. 28, 2023

Thousands of teachers walk out of their classrooms, mourning their fellow educators and their powerlessness in the face of parental abuse. Persistent, demeaning criticisms from parents have pushed South Korean teachers to the brink, with 100 dying of suicide from January 2018 to June this year per CNN—including a 23-year-old primary school teacher who tragically took her own life in July after expressing distress over disparaging complaints from parents. Incidents like this not only sparked protests to lobby for the protection of teachers’ rights but underscored a larger phenomenon as well: the damaging repercussions of overbearing parents.

In South Korea, academics are given the utmost importance. Their notoriously difficult eight-hour-long college entrance exam is so vital to students’ futures that heavy traffic is banned and planes are grounded during the exam to minimize distractions. As such, many South Korean parents often seek out the best, most “perfect” education for their children.

This obsession with academics may drive parents to become overbearing, even infringing upon teachers’ freedoms. Numerous cases of parents accusing educators of child abuse for warranted actions have proliferated across South Korea. One teacher, for example, chastised a student for deliberately whispering offensive comments toward a hearing-impaired classmate. The teacher was blamed by the reprimanded student’s parent for “favoring students with disabilities” and was subsequently condemned by the principal, revealing an unjust lack of protection for teachers. Complaints are also aimed at teachers who give students poor grades—Korea’s cutthroat academic culture can cause families to prioritize higher grades over an accurate representation of their student’s performance.

Such behavior reveals how some parents view teachers as merely an education service; their lack of empathy toward teachers makes it easier for them to lodge damaging complaints. In addition, parents’ overprotectiveness, combined with the sentiment that their own children cannot be wrong, can lead them to unfairly blame teachers and can result in administrations catering to families rather than accurately reporting academics.

This overbearing disposition, however, is not just limited to South Korean parents. Micromanaging parents, also known as helicopter parents, are found across the world and constantly monitor their children in an attempt to ensure that nothing stands in the way of their success.

While the situation in South Korea highlights the terrible effects helicopter parenting can have on teachers, the effects it has on children can also be damaging. Helicopter parents’ “hovering” will prove detrimental to the children in the long run by degrading their sense of autonomy, depriving them of decision-making experience and barring them from learning how to handle failure and criticism on their own.

In a world where many facets of life, including education, have become commodities of sorts, it is vital to practice empathy and recognize the humanity of those around oneself. Part of South Korea’s situation stems from a parent-teacher relationship marred by a lack of understanding—too often, teachers are not treated and respected as people. This fosters an environment where selfishness can thrive, allowing helicopter parents to relentlessly push their children toward academic success while ignoring the well-being of both students and educators. Only when parents and teachers recognize that they have the same goal—to prepare their children for the future—and strive to treat each other with compassion will they be able to harmonize best.


About the contributors

Manasa Sriraj


Manasa Sriraj is a senior at Leland High School and an Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. She is a physics and geography freak and can be found desperately attempting to be Jimi Hendrix (i.e. playing her guitar), building Rube Goldberg machines, and binge-watching Netflix in her free time.

Suvia Li


Suvia Li is a senior at Leland High School and is the Opinions and Lifestyle Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys eating snacks, taking naps, and listening to music.

Imran Shaik


Imran Shaikh is a Senior at Leland High School and is the School News, Community News and Feature World Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. In his free time he likes to listen to music, play videogames and attempt to fix his sleep schedule.

Daniel Lin


Daniel Lin is a senior at Leland High School and is the Viewpoint and Last Word Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. During his free time, he enjoys playing video games, sleeping and hanging out with friends.

Breanna Lu


Breanna Lu is a Senior at Leland High School and the Investigative Report, Science & Tech, and Sports Editor-in-Chief for The Charger Account. She likes listening to music, eating, watching TV shows, and rainy days.

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