Despair at girls' street brawl
It seems scarcely believable that a city centre can be invaded by hundreds of teenagers in broad daylight so that they can stage a fight between two young girls, but that is exactly what happened in Belfast on Sunday evening. Those were shocking scenes which left visitors to the city shaking their heads in bewilderment at the behaviour of the young people involved.
We should not dismiss this as a mere extension of the fights that take place in school playgrounds. Those are flare-ups sparked by some incident and usually blow over as quickly as they began.
This was an incident which makes us hang our heads in despair. Apparently the fight between the teenage girls was pre-arranged on social media which was then used to alert hundreds of other teenagers to come to the designated scene.
What is unknown is if there was any real enmity between the participants or whether the fight was simply arranged to provide yet another senseless video for sharing on the internet.
While the brawl lasted only a very short time, this was an incident which could have a much longer-lasting impact on impressionable young minds. The immediate impact is on the two girls who were apprehended by police. They now have a blot on their character and in years to come will wonder how they ever allowed themselves to become involved in such feral behaviour.
But many of those who gathered to watch the fight were scarcely in their teens. What are they to think - that such behaviour is normal and that being caught on camera rampaging through the city centre is just a bit of fun?
Most worrying of all is how so many young people could be involved in this without the knowledge of their parents. Of course we all allow our children a gradual increase in independence as they grow older, but we still try to monitor their movements and who they are keeping company with.
However, none of us should be complacent. There may well be many parents who did not know that their children were involved in this incident and who will be shocked to discover that they were. This is not the first time that fights have been pre-arranged via social media, but it somehow seems worse that this time it was young girls involved.
Thankfully prompt police action meant no one came to any real harm but we don't want to see these images repeated.