KEYBOARD warriors took it to a whole new level overnight with Melbourne private school students attacking those from state schools just hours before they were due to sit the VCE English exam.
The Herald Sun reported students from Xavier College used a Facebook group to call their public school counterparts “povo” and “retards”.
Private school students also suggested the state school students would be their employees in the future.
One of the students wrote in a comment that a school in Pakenham was a “poverty stricken s***hole.”
Public school kids were quick to point out the spelling and grammatical errors in the private school students’ posts, such as this one: “Could all woman [sic] please refrain from expressing there [sic] opinions thank you.”
La Trobe academic Dr Chris Scanlon, who has an interest in social media and class issues, was appalled by the comments but said it was nothing new.
“People think social media increases this kind of thing but I don’t think it does,” he told news.com.au
“The great thing about social media is it documents this type of thing — the students have written it down and posted it and we have evidence.”
The posts from Xavier College students also degraded young women, telling them not to express their opinion and Dr Scanlon said it proved Australia was not a classless society.
“It’s not just a class thing but there is a gender issue as well and I think it’s disgusting,” he said.
“It shows the class and snobbery that does exist in contemporary Australia.”
Dr Scanlon said private schools encouraged this behaviour by setting themselves apart from the public school system.
“To a degree private schools encourage snobbery,” he said.
“They talk about elitism in their branding and the different experience students will have and that sends a message to these students.”
The expert believed the taunting could impact the public school students but he expected they would rise to the occasion.
“I hope the public schools use it as a bit of motivation during their exams and show their education is just as good,” he said.
Melbourne University Associate Professor Deborah Warr, who explores poverty and class issues, said public school students were being stigmatised.
“This incident shows how separated people are and that there is limited interaction between people with different life circumstances,” she said.
“This carelessly and thoughtlessly stigmatises people experiencing poverty and distorts it.”
“Affluent neighbourhoods are becoming more homogeneous and young people can grow up in a little bubble suburb with their school, hobbies and people in similar situations.
“They start to think of people out of that as really different.”
National Centre Against Bullying manager Sandra Craig supported public schools and said any form of bullying was unacceptable.Source:News Limited
National Centre Against Bullying manager Sandra Craig said the posts from Xavier College students were abusive and unacceptable.
She said studies suggested bullying was declining and was behaviour not common among young people.
However, she believed those who did bully were exercising their power.
The anti-bullying advocate said some did it to seek popularity and impress people while others just lacked empathy.
“Generally speaking, contrary to some popular opinion, people who bully do not lack self-esteem,” she said.
“Rather they have an inflated sense of themselves and believe that it is acceptable to humiliate another human being to gain social power.”
Ms Craig advised young people targeted on social media to take a screen shot of messages so they can be used for evidence if they end up getting deleted.
“We advise young people to tell, to remember that it is not their fault and that it is much more revealing about the sender of the messages,” she said.Xavier College principal Dr Chris Hayes told the Herald Sun action would be taken against the offenders.
The Victorian Department of Education declined to comment on the matter.