Student Brawls Spark Outrage, Authorities Concerned

Over the last few months a new anti-social trend in Laos can be observed, with many videos being posted on social media: student brawls ! These videos show a group of young people beating up another person, using brutal force, often leaving the victims seriously injured.

The latest video showing students of the Vientiane Secondary School physically assaulting a fellow student has gone viral on social media and has caused a spark of outrage, so much that now also the officials are getting involved.

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Here’s what Vientiane Times had to report:

Vientiane Education and Sport Department has expressed its concerns regarding a recent incident of female students fighting and the incident being filmed and distributed on social media.

Of particular concern to Vientiane Secondary School’s Director Mr Khamtan Xaymana is that the incident involved at least five female students who cyber and physically bullied another girl on Monday afternoon.
“This type of bad behaviour is unfortunately a growing trend with the advent of smartphones allowing people instant access to social media,” he said.

The girl being picked on in the fight ‘Ms A’, is studying in grade five at Vientiane Secondary School and has apparently been the ongoing victim of cyber bullying by some other students via social media.
Mr Khamtan told Vientiane Times yesterday a group of female students, who ganged up and physically assaulted the student, were from other schools around Vientiane.

He said it was worrying that the students were not only engaged in a physical altercation, but that someone had filmed it and posted it online perpetuating the anti-social activity. The video had since spread like wildfire.
The video showed Ms A suffering from serious injuries on her body, especially on her face as she was kicked repeatedly by a group of female students.

The physical nature of the students fight, especially in the case of Ms A, were seen to include the acts of hitting, punching, slapping, poking, grabbing, pulling, tripping, kicking and pinching.
However, Ms A suffered minor injuries from the incident because she used her hands to protect her face and attended school as per usual the following day.

The information was confirmed by Mr Khamtan after interviewing Ms A in regards to the incident.
Mr Khamtan said that education authorities have identified the attackers and are carrying out an investigation to resolve the matter.
The education authorities will warn the students and record them in the first instance. Students who still practice this bad behaviour will be given three strikes, after the third strike they will be expelled from the school.

The Education and Sports Department’s Director Mr Somphou Keopanya told Vientiane Times yesterday that this type of matters had been evident over the year and it has not only happened at Vientiane Secondary School but also other institutions in Vientiane
Mr Somphou said fighting was unacceptable in any situation, at any school and will not be tolerated.

A fight is defined as a physical altercation occurring between two or more students.
Despite the concerned sector’s attempt to address the issue, student brawls or students egging on the altercation is still a challenging issue facing the department.

Update 11th September 2014:

Student fight on social media still under investigation

Authorities have stated they need to ascertain all the facts regarding the recent incident involving a group of female students fighting with another girl before they come to any conclusion to their investigations.

After a brief and blurry video of the fight in front of Vientiane Secondary School on Monday afternoon was filmed and distributed via Facebook, it spread very quickly.

However, police have said that mere social media video footage did not necessarily give the whole picture.

An officer from Vientiane Police Office Interrogative and Investigative Department told Vientiane Times they are interviewing all the girls involved in the incident but so far their enquiries revealed there were conflicting accounts of what actually happened.

A police official, who wished not to be named, stated that they suspected there may be a third party involved and this may have a bearing on the motives for starting the fight.

Police are confident these details will come to light as they continue their investigations and they will be able to come to a conclusion soon.

Officials said they are keen to nip this kind of antisocial behaviour in the bud to prevent any copycat incidents springing up on social media.

Vientiane Secondary School Director Mr Khamtan Xaymana said that any student involved in fights would be disciplined and could be expelled from the school depending on the seriousness of the case.

Mr Khamtan confirmed that the female students fighting were already known to each other.

The video has been shared and gained attention through social media. What is most disturbing, however, is how quickly the other girls joined in to escalate the fight.

Although this kind of incident is relatively rare, the blurry video clip showing female students and another girl having an argument and shoving each other is still drawing attention from not only local internet viewers, but also regional and international audiences.

The clip, uploaded to Facebook immediately after the incident, shows the group of students introducing themselves before heading to fight the other girl.

Student fighting is an issue of that school administrators have to deal with from time to time. There is currently a policy in place designed to prevent and discourage students from getting into physical altercations. The consequences are direct and severe in the hope that any student thinks about their actions before choosing to fight.

Any student who engages in such actions as defined will be issued a citation for disorderly conduct by a local police officer and could be potentially taken to jail.

In addition, that student will be suspended indefinitely from all school related activities.

It will be left up to the school administrator’s discretion as to whether an individual’s participation in a fight will be considered self defence.

If the administrator deems the actions as self-defence, then a lesser punishment will be inflicted.

Source: J&C and Vientiane Times

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