Picture of local bikini clad teens removed from internet
The organiser of a teen disco held last weekend in Mullingar has confirmed that he and his staff had to remove from their website a picture of two scantily clad local girls allegedly aged just 12 and 13, photographed at the event.Philip McKeown, of TeenKix, which runs discos at the St. Loman's GAA Clubhouse, confirmed that a HSE Child Protection Officer had got word to him over concerns about the picture, in which the two young girls were photographed from the waist up, wearing bikini tops.He said he has attempted since to contact the HSE Officer to discuss the matter, but has failed to manage to contact her by phone to offer reassurance over the matter.However, he said, there was nothing wrong with the image, which was contained within the TeenKix Bebo page, and therefore, not accessible to the general public, just to the page's 700-800 members.The photograph was live on the site over the weekend, but was removed as soon as concerns were raised about it."I'm taking this very seriously," said Mr. McKeown, who has been running teen discos in Mullingar for almost twelve months.He confirmed - in line with a complaint made to the Westmeath Examiner over the uploading of the photograph - that the disco had a "beach" theme, which was why the girls were in their bikini tops.He added that a female staff member had told the girls to put their clothes back on, and, he continued, the photographs were taken by a female photographer.He said that the photographs were of a type that young people themselves tend to put up on their Bebo pages.Mr. McKeown, stressing that he is Garda vetted, and involved in sports coaching, said he and his team take seriously their responsibility to the young people who attend the discos, and he is happy for parents to drop in at any time, and see how things are being run, and the supervisory measures in place to ensure the teenagers - aged mainly from 12 to 16 - enjoy their evening out in safety.However, there was some concern among people who became aware of the fact that there was a picture on the internet of two local girls wearing bikini tops.The person who contacted the Westmeath Examiner said that the wisdom of putting up such a picture had to be questioned.The same person also complained of other themed nights held by the organisers."One night it had a 'traffic light' theme, and the girls who were looking for a boyfriend were given a green sticker, and those who had a boyfriend got a red one to show they 'weren't available'," our informant told us.Mr. McKeown confirmed that there had been such a themed night, but said it was "completely harmless".He added that youngsters are all breathalysed before being allowed enter any of his discos, and that their bags are searched to ensure they are not sneaking in any alcohol.Not everyone agrees that the teen discos are a good idea."Children should be protected and not exploited," the Westmeath Examiner's informant said.He continued:"The way these discos are promoted is not good for children: there is pressure created among themselves to wear the shortest dresses possible. Also there is unnecessary pressure on parents because of this."I also noticed a well known night club in Mullingar had a teenage disco recently."They should cut out the greed: adults in responsible positions be adult and let children be children," he stated.