8 Nov 2015

Warning only for explicit images

5:02 pm on 8 November 2015

Schoolboys who performed crude acts on drunk girls and posted pictures online were given only warnings from police, the Secondary Principals' Association says.

Patrick Walsh is a member of the association's executive and is also the Online Safety Advisory Group chairperson. He said the case involved senior boys from an unnamed secondary school.

He said the boys got teenage girls drunk before taking explicit photos of themselves with the girls and posting the pictures on a Facebook page.

Mr Walsh said the case was reported to the school, the board of trustees investigated and police were involved. "As I understand it the boys involved received a warning."

He said the boys' behaviour would have had a terrible effect on the young girls who had had their photos taken, and he was concerned the boys received no more than a warning from police.

Mr Walsh said a message needed to be sent to young men that such behaviour was unacceptable.

"It's absolutely devastating because when those images are put into cyberspace, and each time they are copied to someone, they are victimised again and again."

Mr Walsh said the incident reflected a similar attitude from young men as that in the so-called Roastbusters case.

"There are, across the country, increasingly, groups particularly of young men who think that they can act this way with impunity, and despite the best educative efforts of the schools to warn them of the harmful effects of this type of behaviour they continue to do it."

"In my view we're rapidly approaching the position where somebody does need to be prosecuted. I'm not suggesting that they go to prison but fines, community work and compulsory attendance at programmes to try and get a shift in attitude I think is appropriate."

The Roastbusters case involved a group of teenage boys who boasted online about having sex with drunk girls, some as young as 13.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority report later criticised the initial police investigation, saying it had let the victims down.

Mr Walsh said last year the Secondary Principals' Association conducted a survey on the type of behaviour shown in the cases and while it was not prevalent in schools, such incidents were not isolated.

"Our concern is that we take proactive action now in order to ensure it doesn't become an embedded culture among our young people."

Helping prevent similar incidents would take a collaborative effort from schools, the Ministry of Education, police and students' parents, he said.