Why we chose not to publish videos on violence

By Shepparton News

We were disturbed this week when footage surfaced of local students in the act of fighting one another, or more disturbingly, attacking defenceless students who clearly wanted no part of the violence.

We anticipate many readers will be equally disturbed.

The method in which we covered this issue generated a series of discussions in the newsroom.

Discussions were also had with Victoria Police and education authorities.

On the one hand, we do not want to be a vehicle for promoting this type of material. Unfortunately, there will be those who prize such attention, however negative.

In the age of search engines and social media, merely mentioning something can increase access and popularity.

Conversely, we have a duty to report issues of importance in our community. Violence conducted in our schools is a very important issue, one that we cannot ignore.

Like Victoria Police, we are in possession of many of the videos reported on, and like Victoria Police, we wonder at the stupidity of filming and then disseminating a criminal act.

As the police themselves stated, prosecuting someone who is filmed in the act of committing a crime is generally made easier by the existence of video material.

We have chosen not to publish the videos. We believe there is no public interest in their publication, nor do we wish to offer encouragement to those who wrongfully seek such attention, especially when the perpetrators are children.

We have every confidence in Victoria Police and our local school administration.

We are aware that certain matters have already been dealt with and believe due to the idiocy of publishing video of a criminal act, other perpetrators will probably find themselves answering to the law.

It is a sad social media phenomenon that this material finds itself an audience, but it also somewhat comforting that when alerted, law enforcement, government, schools and the media come together quickly to act against it.