Schools beset by mobile phone, MySpace issues

Reports are emerging from Catholic schools in NSW and Victoria of a spate of mobile phone and MySpace incidents including bullying, bad language and graphic photos.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that police have been notified of a MySpace page used to post threats and derogatory comments about students at the Hunter Valley's largest Catholic senior school.

The offending posts on the site, set up for year 12 students at St Francis Xavier's College in Hamilton, have since been removed and the school is dealing with the matter internally.

The posts included obscene language and derogatory descriptions of pupils, including a girl being branded a "slut".

Police school liaison officer Rob Walsh said other alleged cases of cyber bullying in the region were being pursued as possible criminal offences.

"I don't think [students] are aware of the repercussions of what they are doing," Senior Constable Walsh said. "It's like harassing people on the telephone - you can't do it."

St Francis Xavier's College principal Brother Hubert Williams told the Herald that while the incident was regrettable, there was no way of knowing if students from outside the school had also posted on the site.

Meanwhile, in Melbourne, The Age reports a furore at two Catholic schools after graphic photos of a Year 10 girl were allegedly distributed among boys from a neighbouring private school.

The Age says that it believes the furore began when a Kilbreda College student allegedly sent mobile phone photographs of herself to a boy at St Bede's College, in Mentone.

Teachers found out about the photos this week, and cancelled Thursday's year 10 social dance between the two schools. The cancellation prompted anger from some parents, one of whom called the move "short-sighted and narrow-minded".

St Bede's deputy principal Enzo Ditoro told The Age that staff had decided to cancel the dance "in the interest of the welfare of the kids from both schools".

Police call as cyber bullies hit students (Sydney Morning Herald, 30/4/07)
Fresh fears about cyber bullies at schools (The Age, 30/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
St . Francis Xavier's College, Hamilton
St Bede's College
Kilbreda College

Students suspended over mobile phone bullying incident (CathNews, 13/4/07)
Police seize Xavier college cannabis (CathNews, 12/4/07)
Catholic college in student drug bust (CathNews, 11/4/07)
Catholic students suspended for cyber- bullying principal (CathNews, 13/2/07)
NZ schools worried about "text bullying" (CathNews, 1/6/04)

30 Apr 2007

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