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Appeal for action over student fights

A children's charity is calling on Government to do more to tackle a recent spate of violent street fights involving students that have been filmed and spread around social media.

Sheelagh Cooper, from the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said the phenomenon of brawls between adolescents being filmed and circulated online was escalating in Bermuda.

Her comments came after the Department of Education said that it was aware of incidents of pupils fighting appearing online and vowed to take the matter extremely seriously.

“Government has taken the first steps to address these problems by acknowledging the problems, making it clear it is unacceptable and setting out consequences,” Ms Cooper said.

“But if we stop there we will not have solved the problems. If we react by using the same old tools of stepping up the rhetoric and increasing the threats, we are likely to continue to get the same results.

“We have to do much more than that. We need to ask questions about what is behind the fight itself, what is behind the act of filming it, and what is the reason for passing the material online? The question we want to be asking is, what are these young people trying to accomplish? This is not a problem unique to Bermuda, it is just relatively new here.

“I was shocked to see the footage of the fights but I have been aware for some time of the level of violence among adolescents. We as a charity have been involved in tackling it for some time. However it does seem to be escalating.”

The Ministry of Education warned those who filmed incidents of violence that they could face legal sanctions.

Ms Cooper told The Royal Gazette that the situation had been made worse because support systems to help young people had been cut.

“This is learned behaviour and if we examine some of the increasing levels of violence in many homes in Bermuda, it is easy to see why this is reflected in our young people. Even our politicians have lost the level of civility that once characterised politics in Bermuda.

“Teachers will tell you that when many of these children are disciplined, they will be approached by their parents with the same kind of aggression that the children have displayed.

“There is no question that many in the community are experiencing an unprecedented level of economic stress.

“While this is no excuse, it cannot help but fuel some of the anger and frustration that boils within many of these young people's homes.”

Sheelagh Cooper, of the Coalition for the Protection of Children

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Published April 16, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated April 16, 2015 at 12:51 am)

Appeal for action over student fights

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