Students' misuse of social media tackled

An agreement aimed at tackling negative attention to schools from pupil misbehaviour on social media has been developed by a secondary association and police.

The memorandum of understanding, currently in draft form, was spurred on by events late last year when a number of schools hit the headlines after videos and photographs appeared on social media - including a group of boys who performed lewd acts on drunk girls and posted the pictures on Facebook.

The case - dubbed Roast Busters II - involved senior boys from an unnamed New Zealand secondary school plying young girls with alcohol and recording sexually degrading acts, including dangling their genitalia over their faces, in a competition to see how many girls they could get into compromising photos.

A number of fights between school pupils, which took place outside school but in school uniforms, also made it into the news in October and November. The incidents spurred the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand (Spanz) to meet with police, and a memorandum of understanding has this month been preliminarily agreed to. It is understood that all Spanz's executive members agreed to the MOU at a meeting at the start of this month.

Police and Spanz declined to provide the New Zealand Herald with a copy of the MOU, saying it was still in draft form. But it is understood the agreement will be finalised by the end of the month.

Spanz declined to comment on the MOU, referring queries to police.

However, president Sandy Pasley, in a November newsletter sent out to members, said she and executive member Patrick Walsh had met with police "to discuss recent events involving students and the misuse of social media".

An update in February's newsletter said the MOU was "following on from media coverage mentioning schools in circumstances that were outside the parameters of the school".

In a statement to the New Zealand Herald, Acting Assistant Commissioner Dave Trappitt said police regularly partner with school to "proactively prevent crime, victimisation and crashes".

"'Partnership' 'with schools is a key theme of our approach to school community policing," he said.

"The MOU currently being drafted between NZ Police and the Secondary Principals' Association of New Zealand is about formally establishing a collaborative working relationship to enhance community safety, where children and young people live and learn free from harm.

"The MOU aims to enhance trust and confidence with the secondary schools which aligns with our vision - to have the trust and confidence of all."

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