A parenting advice organisation has called for urgent action to stop violent videos of Northern Ireland schoolchildren brawling being posted on the internet.
Pip Jaffa from the Parents’ Advice Centre said the growing prevalence of the images appearing online amounts to bullying, which could lead to many repercussions for those involved — including serious injury or even self harm by those who are being forced into taking part.
This week police said they are to launch an investigation after highly disturbing videos featuring pupils from some of Enniskillen’s biggest schools were uncovered on file-sharing websites such as YouTube, MySpace, Bebo and Facebook.
Filmed on mobile phones, the videos have been viewed thousands of times.
In one of the videos a group of schoolchildren gather around as two young men fight it out — punching and kicking each other. A number of their ‘supporters’ watching the scramble join in, pushing and egging the pair on until they both stumble and fall.
In another video two young boys appear to have been forced into fighting with each other as more than 30 of their peers watch. The short footage has been viewed nearly 4,000 times and details of who is who are included in its description also.
Like the others, the name of the school attended by the children is clearly identified by the uniforms they are wearing.
In another video entitled Fighter Paddy, kids watch and cheer as one youngster is punched in the face before falling to the ground where he is kicked and punched relentlessly
Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People Patricia Lewsley said: “I am very concerned that young people in the area appear to be engaging in this violent behaviour. I urge the schools, parents and carers to work with the relevant local authorities to help stop this activity immediately.”
Ms Jaffa said: “This is an unacceptable way to behave and we must get that message across to young people. This is real risk taking behaviour. It is bullying which destroys self-confidence, self-esteem and can lead to the victims suffering psychologically and even self-harming.
“So often young people believe they are invincible so we need to take action to educate them this is not the case.
“Hopefully the fact this is being raised by the media will give parents the opportunity to discuss it with their children and teach them this is wrong.”
Meanwhile, expressing his horror at the footage, Inspector Roy Robinson said: “I will be asking for this matter to be investigated expeditiously. We will be in contact with the schools to try and identify these students as quickly as possible. If anyone can identify these young people involved I would ask them to get in contact with the police as soon as possible.”