Coast's drinking teens exposed on party photography site

THE partying antics of Sunshine Coast teenagers are being exposed on a Facebook site run by a local high school student.

Photos posted on Overhype Photography show apparently under-age teenagers drinking heavily and making hand gestures police say are associated with drug use.

The images have shocked parents, including the mother of a 16-year-old who was stunned to find photos of her son and his Year 11 friends drinking.

The page, which is public for viewing, is run by 16-year-old Maroochydore High student Jamie Ballard with the support of his parents.

Facebook

Jamie (pictured) told the Daily he started the site a year ago and people "inboxed" him to join them at a party.

He charges about $70 to turn up at events.

Jamie said the photos of the youths clearly holding alcoholic cans, bottles, "goon bags" and "beer bongs" were of teenagers who "told me they were older (over 18)".

"I can't really not believe them," he said.

When he started the page, he had 300 page "likes" overnight. That has grown to 3400 in a year.

Jamie's mum, Maxine, said she supported her son.

"It is worse to have your kid drunk under-age than it is having someone to take a photo," she said.

Is underage drinking a major problem on the Sunshine Coast?

This poll ended on 12 September 2015.

Current Results

Yes it's an issue that needs serious attention

26%

No there are many more pressing issues our youth face

38%

Underage drinking is not new but back in my day we didn't have it highlighted on social media

35%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Police have been made aware of the page and say they are taking it seriously.

Sunshine Coast District Crime Prevention Unit officer Mark Readman confirmed they were reviewing the site.

"If it shows evidence of illegal activity - such as drinking in a public place or possession of dangerous drugs or utensils - they run the risk of prosecution if we can establish a case," Snr Const Readman said.

He said his quick scan of the site had shown a few photos had "disturbing associations with drug usage".

"There are a lot of hand gestures which are well-known symbols for participating in drug activity," he said.

The concerned mother discovered the site when she noticed a watermarked Overhype photo of her son and his mates with alcohol on her son's Facebook page.

"I noticed the amount of alcohol in the photos and this was a concern as there were younger ones mixing with older ones drinking," she said.

"I wonder if other parents were aware of the compromising position some of their children were photographed in?"

Another teenager linked to the site has also posted a compromising photograph of himself on his own, public, social media page.

It is of him holding what appears to be a bag of marijuana in front of a six-pack of Jim Beam, Mishka Vodka and what looks like a goon bag.

It is not clear how old he is.

Snr Const Readman said the teenagers needed to realise they risked ruining their "digital reputation".

"Employers view these and, when they are looking for jobs down the track, their chances will be comprised if they are seen lying in gutters and inappropriately dressed," he said.

"They run the danger of making themselves unemployable."

He warned there was also a risk the photos could end up on a pedophile site.

University of the Sunshine Coast public relations lecturer Karen Sutherland said teenagers didn't realise the long-term repercussions.

"More and more prospective employees are looking online to see what a person's digital brand is like," she said.

"With Facebook recognition, you can determine a name of the person if it has been tagged before."

Immanuel Lutheran College principal Colin Minke was concerned some of his students were on the page, but said social media was a shared responsibility.

"We continue to educate them around it and the choices made, rightly or wrongly, on the spur of the moment," he said. "These things are forensically there forever. This is the bit they don't get."

 


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