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Parents must teach youngsters respect

Editor's Viewpoint

Schoolboys have fought as long as there have been schools, but in the past such playground scraps were usually forgotten about almost as soon as they finished.

Now, with the widespread use of mobile phone cameras and recording devices, fights can be preserved for posterity or, even more worryingly, arranged so that they can be recorded and uploaded onto social media sites.

An online video of two Armagh schoolboys fighting, with other teens later joining in, has been viewed an incredible 1.5m times.

The footage, which lasts less than a minute, was recorded eight months ago, but can still be viewed today.

This is regarded as a disturbing development by the principal of the school, who says that the matter was dealt with at the time.

He is now fearful that the work undertaken with students on their behaviour could be undone.

But social media cannot be blamed for the scenes at a Strabane school yesterday that led to police being called.

A fight between two students in the canteen at Holy Cross College escalated into a free-for-all that staff were unable to quell. Understandably, some students were disturbed by the brawl, with one child telling her mother there was blood and food over the floor.

Such behaviour is totally unacceptable, with even staff being assaulted. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries.

Children are sent to school primarily to be educated, but part of the role of teachers is also to set them standards of behaviour, turning out valuable citizens of the future whatever their academic qualifications.

Admittedly, this is an onerous task, and many teachers nowadays say the disciplinary measures in force are inadequate for dealing with unruly students.

There are frequent shocking reports of assaults on teachers and pupils having to be suspended or even expelled for bad behaviour.

Discipline and respect for authority has to begin at home with parents. If proper standards of behaviour are not taught at an early stage, the task for teachers becomes much more difficult.

Of course, there is a final recourse available to pupils or teachers who are assaulted. They can report any such incidents to the police.

But that is a measure of last resort. Strong disciplinary measures in schools, with zero tolerance on bad behaviour, is the best answer.

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