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Smartphones and bad parenting blamed for spike in schoolyard brawls

Deborah Knight
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Experts are pointing the figure at smartphones and a disrespect of authority for a spike in schoolyard brawls.

More than 1,700 playground assaults were reported in New South Wales schools in the 2017/18 period.

That’s 500 more attacks than the previous year.

Experts say the trend is being fuelled by teens posting videos of fights online as well as disrespect of authority.

Senior researcher at the Australian Catholic University, Dr Kevin Donnelly, tells Deborah Knight social media usage is only part of the problem.

“The other issue though is parenting,” he says.

“I taught for 18 years and the reality is if young children don’t come to school respecting authority, if they haven’t been disciplined at home, if they don’t know about civility and how to treat other people properly… then it only makes it worse.”

Dr Donnelly says anyone who travels on a train or a tram would know just how poor our manners are getting.

“You’ll see people aren’t as civil or polite, people get angry a lot easier whether it’s road rage or just getting upset.

“There’s a general decline in treating one another with respect and tolerance.”

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Dr Donnelly says when he was a teacher, he was able to intervene in fights before they escalated.

But bureaucracy and policy wouldn’t allow that anymore.

“I was able back then to grab a kid, or to push them aside, to get in between them.

“If you do that now, I’m sure you’d be in trouble.”