YouTube expelled from Australian state's schools
An Australian state has banned video website YouTube from its government-run schools in an effort to stamp out cyber-bullying, a minister said Thursday.
Victoria's Education Services Minister Jacinta Allan said the ban on the popular video-sharing site comes after a gang of male students videotaped their assault on a 17-year-old girl outside of Melbourne and posted it on the site late last year. Police are investigating the assault.
The ban would affect 1,600 government schools in Victoria, the second most-populous state in the country after New South Wales.
Allan said the state government "has never tolerated bullying in schools and this zero tolerance approach extends to the online world."
The ban means YouTube will be added to the list of websites the school board's internet service providers already filter so that students are unable to access them.
The popularity and wide audience of the free video-sharing site has made it an attractive place for amateur video makers of all kinds, including so-called classroom "cyber-bullies" who use the site to post embarrassing footage of fellow students and teachers.
Two teachers were the targets of cyber-bullying in Gatineau and Chicoutimi, Que., last year after video taken with a cellular phone showing them shouting at students was posted on the website. In both cases the students were found to have staged the incidents and YouTube took down the videos.
The school in Gatineau banned the use of personal electronic devices such as cellphones, pagers and BlackBerries after the incident.
But YouTube is not the only online venue where cyber-bullying has occurred.
Students at a Catholic school in Caledon, Ont., created a forum on the social networking site Facebook.com targeting their school principal after the Dufferin-Peel Catholic school board banned cellphones on Jan. 30, 2007.
Nineteen students at Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School in Caledon were suspended two weeks ago for up to eight days after the comments, some vulgar and sexually explicit, were discovered.
With files from the Associated Press