Youth brawls organised on Facebook

THE LATEST outbreak of violence between youth, mostly girls, in Bellingen 10 days ago has shocked many.

Blame for the ugly scenes that occurred after school in Church St on Monday, March 21, has been pinned squarely on social media, with Facebook having been used to organise the face-off.

Bellingen Shire’s deputy mayor, Kerry Child, said it was very sad that kids felt violence was the only way to resolve their differences.

“Often there are just snippets on the sites, no real dialogue, and people take things out of context,” Cr Child said.

“I don’t know how you can do anything about this because all the kids have mobile phones and access to cyberspace.”

Young people spoken to by the Advocate said inconsistent policing levels in the town meant kids often thought they could get away with arranging such confrontations.

“There are often no police in Bellingen on a Friday night, and things can get seriously ugly,” one Year 10 student said.

The speed of the medium is part of the problem, with insults posted overnight being acted on in playgrounds by recess. There is no doubt schools are grappling with how to deal with it.

Retired Dorrigo High School teacher Pauline Farrell said police programs in schools actively engaged students in discussions about Facebook and other media, and made them well aware of the criminality of cyber-bullying.

Police have been asked to comment about this growing problem.

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