Schoolyard death raises questions
THE death of 15-year-old schoolboy Jai Morcom last week has raised many questions about child violence and psychology.
On Saturday, Mullumbimby High School was declared a crime scene after Jai died from head injuries suffered when he was apparently targeted by students fighting over lunch tables.
Southern Cross University associate professor of psychology Rick van der Zwan said the most important question to come out of this situation was why these children did not stop? Why it did not register they had crossed the line?
“There are a number of homicides in this country every year where a punch is thrown and, unfortunately, someone dies as a result,” the professor said.
“It is unlikely that anyone involved in this case was simply a bad person. They are more likely to have been caught up in a group situation.
“What we need to find from this tragedy are the causes of these actions to use these findings to try and ensure this does not happen again.”
Professor van der Zwan pointed to the excessive use of computer games as possibly playing a part.
“Children don't learn impulse control and consequence,” he said.
“In a game if you do something wrong you just get to hit restart and do it over again.
“As a result kids fail to learn the rules of real life, as everything we do has a consequence be it negative or positive.”
Erin Bailey, a PHD student conducting a study on school anti-bulling programs, said while establishing a hierarchy was nothing new, the ways in which it was established had changed.
“The establishment of a pecking order has been a part of society since almost the beginning of time,” she said.
“It is only in recent times that people have begun to take notice of bullying because we are beginning to understand the long-lasting effects of this type of violence.”