Using mobile devices in schools may change due to fight videos - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Using mobile devices in schools may change due to fight videos

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 by Krystal Paco

Guam - It's been making headlines and probably been making your newsfeed on social media sites.   

School fight videos going viral - the issue has caught the attention of island leaders who earlier this afternoon met to discuss why the fights start, how to respond, and potential solutions moving forward.

It was nearly eight years ago a school fight at Southern High School turned deadly.

"All it took was one punch to put 15-year-old Jeremy Newby into a coma. And three months later, this boy who was fondly remembered for his huge smile, lost his life because of a fight," said Speaker Judi Won Pat.

As the speaker kicked off discussions at today's roundtable, she fears history could repeat itself.

The longtime educator and mother also says she was horrified to see the videos displaying rage and violence occurring in Guam schools. She was even more horrified to see the videos have gone viral on social media sites collecting thousands of views.

"Our kids don't appear to be thinking about the consequences of their actions. They are agreeing to fight each other in front of these cameras. Become famous for a moment. They don't realize that violent fighting could jeopardize their future," she said.

So are schools safe? DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez says he's talking with students to survey their thoughts. Earlier today, he visited Tiyan High School - the site for one such fight.

"What happened on campus? Do you feel safe? Tell me what it feels like on campus. This is just a couple of conversations. The feeling there is, we're safe. It happened. We're embarrassed. We just started out. The morale on the campus is low. We just need to know what we can do to talk to our fellow students about respect for each other," he said.

So why do students fight? Fernandez says social media plays a hefty role.

"Recognizing that, recognizing the effect of social media in perhaps encouraging this type of activity, we will be talking again about the cellphone policy in our schools I think it is in my opinion it is difficult to fight technology where we are today," he said.

"We have students who fight. We have students who promote these fights and arrange these fights. We have students who go out for the full purpose of going out to watch and cheer on the fighters and we have people who actually videotape it," he said.

But according to Okkodo High School assistant principal Rita Flores, a lot of fights are a result of something else, including inability to cope with relationships and in the case of new schools, lack of morale.

"A lot of it deals with relationships. I know with Tiyan High School and with Okkodo High School we started out new. Our first year wasn't easy either," she said.

School fights however, are not limited to school grounds. Some videos depict students in uniform off-campus. Fernandez says they've recently reviewed board policy and discovered school administrators can take action on incidents outside school gates.

Looking ahead, Fernandez says DOE is also partnering with the local mixed martial arts community to relaunch the "Keep it In Cage" campaign.


Meanwhile, the Guam Police Department and the Attorney General's Office are investigating 30+ fight videos, some even showing middle schooler students. Those caught on video are being identified - and the AG's Office notes even those videotaping the fights - may be held accountable.

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