It’s necessary for me to be absolutely clear that I find the actions of these young men inexcusable. I can’t find words that adequately express the extent of the repugnance and confusion I feel when I think about what these children did to another child, especially one so vulnerable, whose intellectual development has been delayed. That they profited from inflicting such torture is abominable.
While I was reading the report through The Age link that PC provided, however, I noticed another headline in the sidebar: ‘Ban this technology, says expert’ . In that story, a psychologist called for the banning of camera phone technology in Victorian schools:
"There needs to be protection. I do believe kids need to be protected from themselves and from their impulsivity and their lack of risk assessment and lack of prioritisation," Dr Carr-Gregg said.
"I think one way we can do this is by having a blanket ban on all camera-enabled (and) internet-enabled mobile phones in schools.
"I just think we shouldn't allow them. We've seen repeated incidents of happy-slapping, assault, kids shrieking with joy when they caught a particularly vicious assault on camera, and that's at school.''
Dr Carr-Gregg said the issue of bullying had moved beyond the schoolground and into cyberspace.
When I read the psychologist's proposal, I was mystified. The leap from condemning the behaviour of the young men to calling for the policing of the technology that they used seems to be quite illogical. Isn't the problem the criminal assault? It's true that the technology enables the recording and distribution of such actions, which adds insult to injury (and provides condemning evidence in court), but would getting rid of phone cameras stop the behaviour? Isn't the greater problem the extreme lack of empathy or compassion for a fellow human being, which needs to be addressed in a much more substantial and responsible way?
I find it quite alarming that some professional people dedicate their lives to condemning technology. I can understand condemning particular uses of technology, especially in this instance, but it's these teenagers' indifference to others that's surely the source of concern here; after all there are many people, young and older, who use their mobile phone's imaging capabilities everyday with the intent and effect of cultivating and maintaining good mutual relationships with others.
Update: More from Barista, as referenced in Lucy Tartan's comment