Instagram
A most popular Instagram page is displayed on a mobile device screen.Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

Two senior students at a prestigious private boys' school in Melbourne, Australia, have been suspended after they were accused of running a vile Instagram account that shared photos of young local girls without their knowledge. Reportedly featuring photos of girls as young as 11, the account was allegedly set up by two year 11 students at Brighton Grammar School (BGS), encouraging users to vote for the 'slut of the year'.

The Instagram account, @ys_academy_puspus, was shut down on Saturday (16 July) after the mother of a girl whose photo was posted in the account reported it to the school. YS, apparently, stands for "young sluts".

According to Fairfax Media, the mother said the account showed pictures of girls in different stages of undress, some of which were accompanied with captions that listed the various sexual acts each girl would perform, the Guardian reports. While one photo showed a schoolgirl wearing a white singlet top and bikini bottoms, another showed some grade six girls walking towards their parents after school wearing their school uniforms, she noted.

"I am writing this as a mother of a girl that has not only been sexualised but violated within our small community," the mother wrote on a public Facebook post that was later reportedly made private on Sunday. "I will not rest until the consequence for the crime meets the severity of the crime itself – for my daughter and all other young unsuspecting girls." The mother's identity was not revealed by Fairfax Media in order to protect the identity of her daughter.

A Victoria police spokesperson said they have been made aware of the offending Instagram account and are currently investigating the allegations.

"Police can confirm it has received a report in relation to inappropriate content on an Instagram account originating in the Bayside area," she said.

The private school released a statement on Monday saying the administration is taking the issue "very seriously" and "will continue further investigations into this serious matter".

"The Instagram post is disgraceful and does not reflect the values of BGS," headmaster Ross Featherston said. "Disrespectful behaviour on any social media site is simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The school added that the well-being of the girls is a "top priority" and that they have been working very closely with the families to offer their support.

"Respectful relationships are a critical part of the culture at BGS with various programs in the curriculum addressing this issue," the statement reads. "The behaviour of these boys does not in any way reflect the values of BGS or what BGS stands for."

As social media networks, messaging apps and internet use continue to rise in popularity, so have the use of these platforms as tools for cyberbullying, slut shaming and sexual harassment.

According to a recent study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking that surveyed 1,015 students between the ages of 11 and 19, more than 300 respondents reported that they had experienced sexual harassment — defined as "sexual and gender-degrading comments" that were unwelcome or graphic — via social media over the past six months.

However, only 60 respondents said they reported the abuse to the social media networks, of which only half said they received a response. Just 18 cases saw the offensive material taken down, reinforcing the belief that "nothing is done" despite reporting the abuse.