School brawls ‘driven by social media’
SOCIAL media videos have been blamed for a record number of student fights at NSW schools in the past 12 months.
Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures reveal police received 1709 reports of violence on schoolgrounds in 2017-18, up more than 500 from the previous year.
A total of 1160 assaults were recorded at public high schools, with public primary schools accounting for 364. Private schools reported 185 incidents, 44 per cent higher than the previous year.
Experts say the trend is being fuelled by young people filming and sharing school fights on social media.
Australian Catholic University senior researcher Kevin Donnelly said the widespread use of technology coupled with a "general lack of respect in society" were contributing to playground violence.
"The influence of social networks and going online is making the problem worse … the way we use technology and communicate now is confronting," he said.
Last month students filmed two De La Salle College Caringbah students fighting outside the school.
A 16-year-old boy was knocked out after being punched by a 15-year-old in front of dozens of students. He was hospitalised overnight.
Dr Donnelly said parents needed to take more responsibility for their children.
"Parents are children's first teachers … we need to teach children to treat others fairly and not resort to violence," he said.
"They need to teach children a strong moral sense of good and bad behaviour."
He also said it was becoming more difficult for teachers to suspend students due to the large number of processes involved. "We have a general problem in society of a lack of respect," Dr Donnelly said.
"Schools can contribute to the problem if they don't have a strong moral code and don't enforce it."
A Department of Education spokesman said it had a "zero tolerance policy to violence, bullying, harassment and assault of any kind," he said.
"If incidents do occur, the NSW Department of Education's Incident Support Unit, which includes seconded NSW Police officers, co-ordinates Police support and provides immediate advice to schools.
"Principals will take strong action when inappropriate behaviour interferes with the safety of the school community."