Peer Counseling Program
Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Distressed Youth The biggest concern considered before the launching of Peer Counseling Initiative was the distressed youth of Korea. It was widely agreed that, in the midst of rapidly changing social and educational environment, the youth may have been left to deal with various difficulties in personal and school life with insufficient support. Hence, overwhelming study stress and lack of adequate parental care, among other reasons, have resulted in serious teen problems such as high youth suicide rate, increasing rate of school violence and youth crime, and increasing number of youth lacking social skills Youth in Korea spend more than 70 percent of their daily hours on studying and educational attainment on average. This leaves no time for them to cope with typical juvenile issues like puberty crisis, study stress, and for some, depression. At the same time, changes in family structure due to a rise in the divorce rate and the number of working parents caused more family problems resulting in far less communication among family members. For many teenagers, home is no longer a place of support and rest, but a place of additional stress. Owing mainly to highly competitive and intense educational environment and lack of sufficient parental care, particularly in households with both parents working, serious mental health problems among the youth in Korea had been increasing. Furthermore, the number of juvenile delinquency, depression, and teen suicide cases had been increasing each year. The percentage growth rate of youth suicide in Korea ranked second highest among 65 OECD member countries. According to the Statistics Korea report of 2012, teenagers in Korea responded that they experience considerable weight of distress over problems in their school and family life, concerning school grades, acceptance into a university, and family discord to name a few. The youth also reported that these problems sometimes lead them to experience suicidal ideation. In the context of school culture that was formed under intense competition over college admission which then caused great tension among students, school bullying and violence became more frequent and severe. Moreover, the social atmosphere which showed not enough concern and support for the victims of school violence made the situation worse, aggravating the sufferings of the victims. In fact, a series of youth suicide occurred due to severe school violence in Daejeon and Daegu in 2011. The intensification of school violence can be attributed to the weakening role of parents and family as a caregiver and to the youth’s increased exposure to harmful media and internet contents and environment. In the meantime, teenagers in Korea tended to lack social capacity to interact and to cooperate with each other despite their high educational achievements. Although Korean youth ranked highest or second highest in reading and mathematics among 65 OECD members states, their social capacity to cooperate with others ranked 22nd. Abovementioned problems were obviously affecting not only the vulnerable youth group, but all elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as the society as a whole.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, in cooperation with the Korea Youth Counseling and Welfare Institute, introduced Peer Counseling Initiative as one of its youth support programs in 1994. Initially, it was launched as a pilot project at a limited number of schools that opted to participate, which allowed the program to evolve through trial and error over time. Boosted by the government’s comprehensive plan for school violence elimination in 2012, the program experienced a major breakthrough; implementation of the more sound and effective Peer Counseling program was expanded to elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide. The Initiative envisioned fostering healthy educational atmosphere and school culture for both “counselor” and “counselee” students through training and counseling sessions. Its three main objectives are: 1) to provide support groups to the youth, 2) to prevent and eliminate school violence, and 3) to increase social skills of the youth. Peer Counseling aims to maximize the positive traits of the youth by helping out their peers in need and to act as preventive means for youth problems such as school violence, runaway, depression and suicide. Though it was not designed to directly address such problems, more engagement of peers in youth’s daily life was intended to discourage from such activities or destructive thoughts. Statistics Korea indicated in their triennial report, in 2010 and 2013, that peers are the first contact teenagers go to when they go through difficult times or need advice. In the reports, survey results show that teenagers find it much easier to talk to their peers as they share similar attitudes and experiences. In the pursuit of ways to deliver most effective solution to growing youth problems, exploiting greater peer influence during adolescence in a positive direction was the core idea of Peer Counseling. How it works: The Target audience is elementary (5th and 6th graders), middle, and high school students. Peer counseling teachers, typically existing counseling teachers of the school or hired professional counselors, take charge of supervising selected student counselors. Peer counseling teachers are required to complete a 15-hour education program once a year at a local Youth Counseling and Welfare Center in order to train student counselors. Besides training them, the teachers’ main responsibility includes providing continual guidance and facilitating regular meetings for progress check. Student counselor selection is volunteer-based and the qualification requires completion of 12-hour training provided by the counseling teachers. Training topics consist of Establishing Friendship, Forming Counsellorship, and Leadership, addressing various and effective ways to approach others and build friendship, ways to listen, empathize, and communicate. Once the training is completed, about twelve to fifteen student counselors begin their role as peer counselors in each classroom. During the training, Student Counselor’s Manual and Counseling Diary are provided as guiding tools, in addition to the support of counseling teachers. For enhanced effectiveness of the program, regional Peer Counseling associations are formed and they complement counseling activities of the teacher and student counselors. In particular, cross-regional case sharing and evaluation meetings have heightened improving the quality of the program. As student counselors gain skills to help others, they function as role models that bring positive energy to the classroom. By deliberately thinking about serving other people, student counselors polish their overall social skills. Meanwhile, students receiving help from their peers also develop relationship building skills from ongoing communication with their peer counselors, as well as skills to release their emotions in a healthier way. The Peer Counseling Initiative has provided an “outlet” for the youth, which enabled sharing and understanding among each other, ultimately contributing to reducing school violence and improving classroom atmosphere.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Peer Counseling Initiative is innovative in that it prompted consistent communication and involvement within the student body as a proactive monitoring mechanism for students’ healthier school life. It places youth at the center of problem-solving strategy, shifting the service provider from possibly authoritative figure benefactors, namely the counseling teachers or counselors, to beneficiary themselves. Greater influence of peers on adolescents as a given advantage, peer counselors are more approachable option for the majority of the youth when seeking advice or empathetic support groups. By placing trained student counselors in a classroom, students who might not have opened up to teachers can access counseling service more comfortably. Most importantly, the attitude of schools and teachers in dealing with youth problems has changed from a passive to active one. Before implementing Peer Counseling, the initiation had to come from students who might be off track or at-risk in order for teachers to be aware and properly assist them. By design, schools were passively “waiting” until students request help. After the program implementation, however, schools are, in a way, actively observing students’ daily lives through the lens of student counselors. This way, potential problems can be identified in advance, making timely assistance possible.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Initiative has seen three major phases. Development and Introduction Phase (1994-1999) Prior to taking the first volunteers to be peer counselors, training curriculum and peer counselors’ guidebook was developed, focusing on providing basic level counseling skills, particularly the techniques to capture psychological and emotional difficulties of their peers. Key products developed include manuals for counseling teachers and schools, manual, workbook and counseling diary for student counselors, and evaluation survey questionnaires. Over time, student counselors’ competency increased and even brought added effect of lessening the burden on school counseling teachers, who had been overloaded due to shortage of professional counselors willing to work in schools. Schools and counseling teachers also actively sought suggestions from peer counseling trainers and trainees, as well as the “counselee” students for constant revision and improvement. Systematic Buildup Phase (2000-2011) As all stakeholders—researchers, students and teachers, school administrations—gained more experience, enhanced practical guidelines were set out on the content, methods, and procedures for program implementation in more schools. In this phase, counseling materials had been amended to tailor to different developmental stages of adolescents: elementary (5th and 6th grades), middle, and high school levels. A systematic implementation was supplemented by informational sessions, workshops, consulting, and evaluation meetings for each stakeholder. Orientations are regularly held for working staff of local Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers and local education offices in March, the beginning month of the school year in Korea, to induce better understanding and cooperation from them. Nationwide Expansion Phase (2012-2014) Since the launch of the Comprehensive Plan to Eliminate School Violence in 2012 by the joint efforts of relevant government ministries, the peer counseling program was expanded to elementary, middle, and high schools nationwide. As of 2014, 6,396 schools, which comprise 56 percent of total schools, are participating in the program. This total number of schools is exceeding the 2014 target of 5,000 schools. The implementation plan for this Initiative is revised annually (An abridged version of 2014 Implementation Plan is attached). Key elements of the yearly plan are 1) selection of schools; 2) selection of counseling teachers; 3) training of counseling teachers; 4) operation of Peer Counseling; 5) strengthening student counselors; 6) promotional activities. 1) Schools submit applications to participate in the Peer Counseling program. In reference to the previous year’s performance result, applications are reviewed by the regional education offices mainly for the purpose of budget allocation, and cooperation plan with local counseling centers are prepared. 2) Counseling teachers are appointed based on the size and circumstances of each school. Minimum of two teachers per school are recommended for efficient management of the program. 3) Once the counseling teacher selection is complete, they must attend training sessions: in-depth course for returning teachers and basic course for newly appointed teachers. All counseling teachers are filed in the Peer Counseling program database. 4) Operation of Peer Counseling is through a form of school club activity, but it varies depending on school circumstances. Training sessions for student counselors usually befall during lunch and/or afterschool hours. The counseling sessions, or constant initiatives of student counselors, are the heart of the program, and they have freedom to incorporate various activities like using a letter box or holding a free-hug day, under the guidance of counseling teachers. 5) Student counselors’ competencies are verified and strengthened through diverse ways, including camps, educational opportunities, case sharing contests, and award ceremonies. 6) Promotional materials (posters, leaflets, videos) are disseminated to education offices and schools. Furthermore, active promotions for school principals and assistant principals during executive meetings as well as for students, parents, and other teachers are invigorated throughout the year.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Civil servants: The Youth Self-Support Assistance Division in the Youth and Family Policy Office at the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is chiefly involved in the implementation, coordination, and funding of the Initiative. As a co-host of the Initiative since 2012, the School Violence Policy Division of the Ministry of Education contributes to project management and budget execution. In particular, they assist extensively in seeking cooperation from schools and regional education offices for promotion and implementation of the program. Public institutions: The Korea Youth Counseling and Welfare Institute took on detailed tasks of research and training curriculum and manual development. Distribution of training materials and best practices is one of the key roles they played, through managing the Peer Counseling website (www.peer.or.kr). Local offices of education are in charge of program orientation, counseling teacher appointments, and facility provision for evaluation meetings and regional association activities. Organizations: Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers—200 locations across the country—contributed to organizing and facilitating program orientations, evaluation meetings, regional association activities, and case contests. Through these centers, training and fostering peer counseling teachers are facilitated. Schools and Students: Participating schools contributed to implementing school-specific plans, organizing and managing Peer Counseling clubs, training of peer counselors, case sharing between classrooms and schools, and partaking in regional association activities. Peer counseling teachers endeavored to cultivate closer relationship with the selected student peer counselors so that they are better prepared for unexpected circumstances as they act as “counselors” in classrooms. Though the collaborative workings of each stakeholder largely contributed to the success of the program, student counselors were the most important stakeholders in the implementation of the Initiative. With the help of training course and continual support of the counseling teachers, they played the key role of being the initiators in classrooms.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
This Initiative was funded entirely through the government budget, executed by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Ministry of Education. Financial: In the fiscal year 2014, a total budget of 2 billion KRW was allotted for the program. About 55 percent of the budget was allocated to participating schools to support their Peer Counseling operations, e.g. counseling teacher-student training sessions, evaluation meetings, etc. However, the yearly support funds for schools were minimal, which was less than 200,000 KRW per school, when distributed to over 5,000 schools around the country. The remaining 45 percent was spent for the work done by the Youth Counseling and Welfare Institute and 17 major Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers: counseling teachers’ training and teacher’s manual (35%), informational and evaluation meetings (35%), case sharing contests (15%), and peer counselor’s workbook, diary, and badge (15%). Technical: Starting from 1994, focused research on Peer Counseling was actively conducted and the research results were used for program and manual development. Incorporating feedbacks and ideas from peer counselors and counseling teachers as well as various case studies, revised editions of program design, training curriculum, and manuals were completed and distributed to all participating teachers and student counselors in 2012. Above all, grade-specific manuals allowed more effective and resourceful training and counseling for the participants as the new editions are tailored according to the developmental stages of the counselors and counselees. In order to provide increased accessibility to information and best practices of peer counseling, the Peer Counseling website (www.peer.or.kr) was created in 2013. Through this site, systematic database management became easier. Besides, active interactions among peer counselors and between counseling teachers and students became possible. Human resources: Close collaboration with all relevant organizations and experienced persons, including former peer counselors, contributed to securing the necessary human resources. Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers (200 centers) and local offices of education (177 offices) teamed up so that all schools are sufficiently staffed with counseling teachers or professional counselors who can train and oversee student peer counselors. Naturally, experts from Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers and the counseling teachers undertook the job of training and fostering peer counselors. Counseling teachers who have finished the required training course selected or took volunteers for peer counselor training. An outstanding gain is that the key HR supply for Peer Counseling Initiative came from the students, as the idea of the Initiative was to place beneficiaries, the youth, in the seat of service providers. Additionally, professional peer counseling trainers have been raised since 1994 and total of 1,305 experts provided training and consulting to Peer Counseling participants. In 2014, an association of senior and former peer counselors was launched to give mentoring support to active peer counselors. In 2013, total of 7,310 counseling teachers and 77,233 student counselors participated around the country, which is an impressive progress compared to the numbers in 2011: 1,926 counseling teachers and 6,128 student counselors.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1) Grade-Specific Manuals Peer Counseling is designed in a way that considers developmental stages of teenagers, according to elementary, middle and high school year levels. Supporting guideline materials were prepared so that topics and skills would be presented and practiced flexibly by grade levels. For elementary school 5th and 6th grades, the focus of training and counseling is on empathy and communication skills. Students at this level, typically ages 11-12, are at a stage where they start to develop greater interest and curiosity about other people, their thoughts, and understanding of them. Considering that, volunteering opportunities requiring consideration, for example, are used to motivate them to participate. For the youth in middle school, usually between age 13 and 15, different academic situations are underlined in the way they are encouraged to participate. For the 1st year (grade 7), transitioning from elementary to middle school, for the 2nd year (grade 8), increased peer influence and group mind, and for the 3rd year (grade 9), academic preparation for high school are the most pronounced characteristics. Thus, counseling teachers and peer counselors are selected, trained, and managed keeping those characteristics in mind. For high school students, though they are generally more mature in their physical, cognitive, and social development, the time they can dedicate to counseling activities aside from their studies is the bigger issue. Therefore, stronger desire and willingness of the student and incentives that can be an added value to students’ college application are weighted considerably. 2) Decreased School Violence Equipping schools with proactive “monitoring” mechanism, the consistent communication and involvement among students, is the primary success factor in reducing the rate of school violence. With the increased number of peer counselors, the school violence rate has been declining. Since the nationwide expansion of Peer Counseling in 2012, the school violence rate declined from 18.3 percent in 2011 to 12.0 percent in 2012, and then to 6.1 percent in 2013. 3) Increased Socials Skills of Youth Peer counseling is based on the person’s ability to listen and empathize using basic counselling skills that can be learned through training and experience. Therefore, peer counseling experience contributed to increasing social skills of the students in general. After participating in the program, peer counselors’ ability to empathize, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills rose on average from 3.60 to 3.70, 3.51 to 3.65, 3.74 to 3.86, and from 3.74 to 3.85 points, respectively.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Monitoring progress: The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family conducts field monitoring and consulting via making visits to schools that participate and to local youth counseling centers. Observant attention to the outcomes, difficulties, and opinions for improvement that schools and centers offer ensured improved quality of the program in the following years. The peer counseling database system is also used to keep records of the activity outcomes and difficulties. The database is available to the counseling teachers and is searchable for references. Especially for critical problems, more prompt and insightful response can be drawn, if it is used in conjunction with other means, such as the experts at Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers. Plus, the Peer Counseling program outcomes are managed in one place this way, enabling consolidation of data and simplification of referencing. Other monitoring mechanisms such as mentoring by college students and workshops by the regional associations were put into place as well. Evaluation activities: Evaluation of peer counseling activities takes place at each school as well as through regional association meetings. The evaluation of the Peer Counseling program reflects on three aspects: internal change experienced by the peer counselor, changes observed in a classroom and the school, and actual operation of the program by the school. For evaluating the impact on peer counselors, they are asked to complete questionnaires on empathy, communication skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills, each comprised of 24-50 questions. For evaluating the impact on members of the classrooms, questionnaires assess school life satisfaction, cohesion of the classmates, attitudes toward school violence, and general atmosphere and impression of the class and the school. On the whole, responses to the Peer Counseling program from students and schools were enthusiastic, but better and multifaceted monitoring and evaluation systems for counselee students and follow up activities after evaluations would increase the effectiveness of the program. For the evaluation of the program management by the school, case contest, case sharing conference, evaluation meetings, and pre and post program evaluation meetings are used. At the end of each year, outstanding student counselors and schools are awarded and best practices are collected from the Peer Counseling Best Practice Contest through the Peer Counseling website. Awarding prizes to outstanding peer counselors, teachers, and organizations provide motivation to current and new participants, representing role models the youth.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Lack of precise understanding of Peer Counseling at schools and in families posed initial difficulties for the implementation. The most challenging task was to gain support and reasonable appreciation from the “adults” namely the parents and the teachers; they tended to be biased against students’ capability of “counseling” and often be afraid that counselor students will have to sacrifice too much time away from their studies. This was overcome by sharing success stories through case contests and interviews of both counselor and counselee students. Efforts to promote the positive impacts Peer Counseling could bring started to help the adults understand better. Promotional efforts through media coverage, especially during the special week of Peer Counseling (September), increased audience’s recognition of the need for such peer program. Additionally, teenage TV stars were appointed as goodwill ambassadors in order to expand the support of the students. Backed by the consistent messages from the youth, schools, and the media, people’s attitude changed, more accepting about the idea of Peer Counseling. As the program became widely known for fostering positive school cultures, more principals and teachers are showing greater enthusiasm and willingness to run the program in their schools. Another obstacle was training peer counselors. Schools that newly adopted the program reported difficulties in training counselor students and appropriately organizing and managing their activities. This was overcome by creating thorough manuals for teacher and student counselors, getting expert help and consulting from the counseling centers, and sharing knowhow between classes and between schools through the regional association activities; local Youth Counseling and Welfare Centers provide consulting services throughout the year for schools within the same district to increase efficiency of the program. Meanwhile, best practices and practical know-hows are shared by various events such as the Best Practice Contest and the Peer Counseling UCC Contest.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The greatest impact Peer Counseling brought is healthier school culture and better performance of teenagers, both counselors and counselees. The program has contributed to fostering healthy school environment by preventing and reducing school violence. Schools participating in the program reported that youth’s responses to questionnaire on school violence experience show the number of school bullying and violence incidents has declined compared to pre-implementation of Peer Counseling. Also, the violence rates are generally lower than those of non-participating schools. Moreover, it has helped cultivating healthy peer culture and enhanced peer relationships as students were enabled to share their concerns and problems with peers in a more tactful way. Because of the intense competition and educational atmosphere, there had been some twisted ways in how students view their peers: as competition rather than companion more often than not. By raising peer counselors, youth were given better opportunities to understand how they can help each other, giving positive influence to fellow students. In short, the program provided a role model for the youth in a closer context. Another major impact on the students is that Peer Counseling facilitated developing students’ social skills. Between 2012 and 2014, approximately 180,000 teenagers were trained to be peer counselors through materials that aimed at cultivating character and skills to build healthy relationship. According to evaluation survey analyses, student counselors showed improvements on average in the training topic areas including empathy, communication and interpersonal skills, and leadership skills. One good example that describes the positive influence of Peer Counseling is a case where a counselee became a counselor. An introverted student who had to transfer to a different school was having a difficulty adjusting at the new school. While he was going through a tough time for a period of time, a peer counselor in his class noticed that he might need some help. As the counselor student continually initiated conversations, they started talking to each other regularly, eventually becoming good friends. The counselee student was deeply touched by the genuine friendship of the peer counselor that he decided to participate as a counselor himself when he advanced to high school. He is now acting as a considerate peer counselor and outgoing companion to many of his classmates. For him, Peer Counseling was a doorway to happier school life and personal growth. Another remarkable instance that was chosen as the best practice in 2013 is a case of a student with disability. A peer counselor was assigned to be a “Shadow Friend” to a classmate who had special needs. Because he had a minor difficulty in communicating with other classmates, he would be bullied sometimes and left out from the group. The counselor student shadowed him, giving small assistance like helping him to return to his seat on time after a break between classes. Most importantly, she helped him connect and form friendship with other classmates by organizing small activities such as having lunch together and playing badminton after school. With the peer counselor’s active engagement and careful support, the counselee student was no longer spending time by himself and became better at getting along with friends at school. This also encouraged teachers at the school who had been challenged trying to communicate with him. The bottom line is that, designing a program that engages all stakeholders, especially the main service recipients, helped addressing the persistent youth problems: the school violence rate fell and students demonstrated enhanced social skills. These impacts are supported by the survey results on school violence, evaluation questionnaires at each school, and most meaningfully, students’ testimonials. Shifting the service beneficiaries to providers acquired better accessibility to the counseling services at schools. This reflects the fact that active participation of service recipients, even if it is not to the extent of being providers themselves as in Peer Counseling Initiative, boosts the effectiveness of a public service. This also implies that this kind of participation of the beneficiaries could reduce trial and error processes in the public service delivery. Overall, youth showed better satisfaction in school life and greater performance in academic and social areas after the implementation of Peer Counseling. Plus, happier youth definitely contributes to building happier and healthier society.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Sustainability: Peer Counseling Initiative is sustainable in three perspectives. Financially, it is a low-cost model of counseling service for reaching a wide audience. As trained amateur counselors are the main service providers, it does not entail remunerating large number of high-paid professionals. The budget allocated for this program is mainly used for training student counselors by using existing experts. Needless to say, cultivating and nurturing student counselors cost less than raising highly educated professional counselors, which is not necessary for achieving the objectives of the program in the first place. Culturally speaking, peer influence can be positively and more effectively maximized in the Korean society where authoritative, hierarchical attitude is deeply engraved in the culture. Students are naturally more open to their peers. And in Korea, most students have hierarchical relationship with their teachers and parents. Even a year difference could affect the formation of a hierarchical relationship in some social settings. Thus, peers are in the most approachable place for Korean teenagers to open up, despite the competitive classroom atmosphere. Backed by peer counseling teachers and counseling center experts, trained peer counselors will bring continued success to this Initiative, contributing to healthy school culture and reduced at-risk youth problems. In terms of access to human resources, peers will always be available to receive training and act as mentors to others in any social group. Especially in schools, where 30 to 40 students are already grouped by grades and where existing counseling teachers are available to supervise student counselors, easy access to human resources is the biggest advantage. Capitalizing on that fact, the focus of the program implementation could be dedicated to the quality of training and counseling services instead. Transferability: At the national level, Peer Counseling has been spread to 56 percent of all schools in Korea and the number is continuing to grow. Since schools, by nature, share similar organizational structure and cultures, the same program scheme can be easily replicated in any given school. With the help of proven effectiveness, positive outputs, and powerful impact of the program, it was not difficult to convince schools to adopt Peer Counseling. Another domestic example is that the Peer Counseling program has been replicated in the Korean military bases. The Military Peer Counseling Training Program was developed in 2008 by the Korea Youth Counseling Institute, based on the Peer Counseling program that had been growing in schools, in order to support mental health of the late-adolescent soldiers, prevent mental health problems within the military, and promote a healthy military culture. Evidently, Peer Counseling in the military has also been fruitful and the K-Force Defense Daily News reported in October 2014 that the Peer Counseling program is the leading component of establishing healthy military culture. At the international level, an English version of MOGEF’s Peer Counseling was launched in the fall 2014. The 1st International Peer Counseling Training Conference was held in Seattle and San Diego, USA, and about 20 Korean-American students, 8th through 10th graders, were trained though this conference.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
In general, the Peer Counseling program has been an inspirational experience both to the youth and the implementers. Even though the program was initially introduced for the purpose of helping youth and reducing youth problems, as the program progressed, more and more people involved, especially the adults, were enlightened by the notion that the core of the issue may not be necessarily confined to the youth. Rather, it is the issue of effective and skillful communication between human beings, regardless of age or stage of life. Consequently, facilitating a communicator who can share the hearts, rather than a commander who tells what to do, was the right solution to the foundational problem of the youth, which probably is not very distant from the problems adults face. On the operational side, one of the key lessons is that close-knit teamwork of all stakeholders is crucial. Throughout the entire process of developing and implementing the Initiative, collaboration and engagement of all stakeholders—youth, parents and families, counseling centers, schools, local offices of education, public service agencies—were indispensable elements for the success of the Initiative. First, identifying imminent problems youth frequently encounter and devising a practical and applicable solution required research and analyses by experts in partnership with public service providers and frontline youth workers and teachers. Putting the program in place called for willingness and active participation of the youth, supported by professionalism of trainers, teachers and schools. Especially, strong motivation of educators at the executive level, such as school principals, imposed a great importance on the effectiveness of the program implementation and operations. The moral support of the families, especially the parents, unquestionably contributed a significant part. Lastly, facilitating close communication channel between schools and counseling centers or experts permitted supplementary expertise and third-person point of views to more complicated cases. Considering how teen problems are often attributable to all aspects of their lives, this kind of cooperation between each stakeholder group may seem obvious. Unfortunately, the importance of it can be easily overlooked along the way, without deliberate efforts to maintain and deepen the cooperation. In this Initiative, employing youth beneficiaries as benefactors, viewing the youth as a resource in providing counseling service, offered stronger motivation for every involved group: teens’ use of time, effective operations, and closer cooperation were all on the line. As a result, getting all parties engaged into solving the interwoven youth problems was made easier. Mutual efforts and diligent communication among all participants could not be emphasized enough. For future development and applications, ensuring collaboration of all shareholders is highly imperative as mentioned above. Also, extensive promotion through informational meetings and training before the launching of the program is recommended. Furthermore, the Pear Counseling program could be evolved as an educational tool for all members of the society, ideally starting with the educator communities. The proven effectiveness of the program can positively impact the whole society, not just the youth group as Peer Counseling is essentially about developing and refining communication skills.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Gender Equality and Family
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Hyo-jin Jeung
Title:   Expert Adviser  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82 2-2100-6281
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   hyojin0929@korea.kr  
Address:   209 Sejong-daero ,Jongno-gu
Postal Code:   110-760
City:   Seoul
State/Province:  
Country:  

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