Disturbing allegations about young people posted on Facebook pages targeting the Banbridge area, have caused alarm among parents and youth workers.
The pages which are Banbridge and Dromore-specific, contain degrading personal comments and allegations and have appeared under various names, sometimes attracting up to 200 friends.
The Leader has decided not to name the pages in public but has alerted Facebook to them.
Youth development manager Ruth Strong is urging parents to be more aware of their children’s online activities. Ruth, a recent youth and family worker in Banbridge, knows some of the teenagers mentioned.
“A lot of the things posted there are really offensive, and most of it is completely fabricated,” said Ruth.
“I’ve mentioned these sites to several parents of young people.
“Parents need to be aware of their children’s activities online to protect them. They need to sit down and have a conversation with their children, asking who they are friends with and if these people really are friends, or not.
“Many of these young people post fabricated comments and they simply aren’t aware of the consequences of these statements.
“The young people seem to have no idea that what they are posting is libellous and that if they do this in later life in a workplace or somewhere, they will be in a lot of very serious trouble.
Local councillors too are anxious to see the problem dealt with.
Glen Barr urged people to go to the police over such matters and Marie Hamilton said: “This is horrendous for the children and parents involved. I think someone needs to point out that this is illegal.
“A lot of young people think it’s trendy to be involved on these sites and post comments as a joke, but they need to consider that they could end up with a black mark against their name.
“They need to step back and think would they like to be treated that way.
“Most parents would be disgusted if they thought their children were involved in something like this. Perhaps they need to be informed too.”
Facebook is currently investigating the pages, but at the time of going to press had made no comment.