Investigation into violent phone txt

24th June 2005 at 01:00
Incident highlights growing problem of cyber bullying. Nicola Porter reports.

A headteacher is investigating how Welsh primary school pupils were sent a mobile phone video recording of a pensioner being beaten up.

The sadistic video is believed to be the latest example of "happy slapping", a dangerous craze that is popular with some teenage gangs. A gang member is nominated to attack an innocent member of the public, while the incident is video-recorded on a mobile phone. The recording is then distributed as a text message to friends or young people that the gang wants to intimidate.

TES Cymru has learned that the head of the Swansea school involved was holding an internal inquiry after pupils as young as seven viewed the recording. None of the school's pupils was involved in the attack.

The incident comes as the city launches a strategy to target a sharp rise in mobile phone and cyber bullying. A questionnaire sent out to Swansea pupils last summer confirmed that mobile phone bullying and theft had become a major problem.

Bullying via emails and internet chatrooms is also emerging as a worrying new form of cyber bullying, in addition to text, picture and video abuse.

Only verbal bullying rated higher on the survey, with twice as many girls as boys saying they had been victims.

The survey, of 1,771 primary and secondary pupils, also reveals that almost half of Swansea's 10-year-olds have mobile phones. Mark Campion, the council's personal and social education adviser does not advocate banning schoolchildren from using mobile phones, which some secondary schools have done. The strategy's advice to bullied pupils and their teachers is "don't ignore, don't delete, and don't reply".

He added: "There is a lot of hype surrounding text bullying, but it is happening and we are acknowledging that in a pro-active strategy. We need to give advice to young pupils who could become victims without alarming others."

Primary school children have been given an information leaflet in the shape of a mobile phone, with advice on bullying and theft.

Alison Jenkins, head of Penclawdd primary school, said: "The leaflet is well designed and child-friendly and gives some useful advice on this issue."


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