A 13-year-old Australian student was thrown to the ground by her hair, punched in the face and repeatedly kicked.
The disturbing scene was captured by a mobile phone of a fellow student, though the student did not try to intervene.
Australian child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg told RadioLIVE that this is an example of the ‘bystander effect’, where the student filming the scene assumed someone else would intervene.
Dr Carr-Gregg also pointed out that adolescents at this age do not have fully developed brains, and will avoid making unpopular decisions in order to fit in.
But the incident has raised serious concerns about mobile phone culture, and whether students should even be able to access them at school.
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Dr Carr-Gregg has been asked by the Ministry of Education of NSW to run its first-ever inquiry into cell phone use in schools, which he says is “overdue”.
“The big issue is whether or not we should have mobile phones in schools at all,” he said.
Dr Carr-Gregg predicted that primary students will likely be restricted from smartphones, but is uncertain about policy for secondary students.
“I think it’s very difficult to argue that young people in Australian primary schools who are under the age of 13 should have access to a device that gives them unrestricted access to social media and the entire internet…”
Secondary schools will also be looked at, though Dr Carr-Gregg said that teachers have argued that smartphones can actually enhance learning in some situations.
In June, France proposed a bill that would ban phone use at school for children ages six up to around 15. Phone use is already prohibited in French classrooms, according to The Guardian.
Dr Carr-Gregg will be keeping an eye on how the bill pans out in France.
Listen to the full interview with Michael Carr-Gregg above.