Australia Bendigo school contacts parents and students after footage of 'disgusting' chant published to social media

03:25  25 february  2020
03:25  25 february  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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The principal of a Victorian Catholic school has written to parents after footage emerged of a group of teenagers performing the same sexist chant that caused widespread outrage when it was sung by St Kevin's College students on a Melbourne tram last year.

When the St Kevin's students were filmed last year, it triggered a wave of controversy and ultimately became part of a Four Corners investigation, which uncovered larger cultural problems at the school.

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On Saturday night a new video surfaced showing a different group of teenagers singing the chant.

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The footage was taken on a private bus after an 18th birthday party in Bendigo, in regional Victoria.

The ABC understands the video was originally posted to Snapchat, and then shared on Instagram and Facebook.

The principal of Catherine McAuley College, Brian Turner, said in a letter to parents the videos involved students from his school and other Bendigo schools.

"Everyone understands the gravity of the behaviour and how these poor choices reflect on them personally and the College community," Mr Turner wrote.

"The College wants to reinforce that the lyrics of this song and any associated culture are disgusting and in no way represent the values of Mercy Education Limited or Catherine McAuley College," Mr Turner wrote.

Mr Turner said the college had contacted every student who could be identified, their families, the family who held the party and the bus company who took the partygoers.

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Social media has become a prevalent component of today’s society , shaping relationships on both a professional and personal level. A mother of another female student at the school saw the pictures and notified the school . This parent claimed that the photos would cause divisiveness between girls

He said the college would work with the students individually and with the wider student body to "raise awareness".

'The girls around me felt nervous'

The chant was filmed on a private bus and the teenagers were not wearing school uniforms.

Mr Turner said although students were free to attend events outside of school, "their behaviour and conduct should reflect the personal values of each individual, and that of their families, schools and the clubs to which they belong".

The video initially spurred a flurry of social media shares and comments, with some defending the chant as "just having fun" or "a joke".

In a now-deleted post, one user said "[no-one] on the bus was offended or affected…There was no need to post it and share it (with) everyone."

In another post, which has since been deleted, the same user said, "it's a f***ing song, no one means any harm".

But one young woman who was on the bus disagreed, saying the atmosphere was aggressive and unpleasant.

"When all the boys were singing, I could tell the girls around me felt nervous due to the confronting behaviour of the boys," said the 18-year-old, who asked not to be identified due to fears of being targeted for speaking out.

"It made me feel ashamed to know those people, as well as those words making me feel uncomfortable and angry that they thought it was okay to speak about women like that."

Blaire Johnston shared the video on Facebook after finding it elsewhere on social media, saying she wanted "to call out the boys on their shameful behaviour and outlook on women".

She said she was then contacted by friends of those who appeared in the video, asking for the footage to be taken down.

"The fact that people have commented or messaged me privately telling me to delete the video, or that I am 'making this about me' and 'wanting attention' speaks volumes about the society we live in," she said.

"Sexism is not only personal but also global, and those boys thinking it's okay to refer to women as objects and grossly verbally abuse us like that is not only degrading but also distressing."

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