Melbourne, April 22 : An exclusive group of Australian schoolgirls has come under fire for following practices that promote underage sex, drinking and drug taking.
The ex-members of the group, known as Club 21 or Big 21, claimed that the club excludes "ugly" girls and the members rank themselves according to looks, weight and popularity with boys.
Principal of St Patrick's College Eamon Hannan issued a statement addressing media coverage, which highlighted that the entry criteria into a club at the school, at Mackay in north Queensland, included being thin, pretty and popular with male students.
"The school had been monitoring and dealing with this issue for some time," the Courier Mail quoted Hannan, as saying.
Club 21 came under the spotlight after teachers and parents raised concerns over the harmful focus on body image, bullying and discriminatory behaviour.
According to a report in The Daily Mercury, ex-members, who did not want to be identified for fear of being beaten up, revealed that the membership code for Club 21 or Big 21 should be the least of parents' and teachers' concerns - as things like sleeping around, binge drinking and drug taking were all activities promoted by the king pins of the group.
The ex-members said promiscuous behaviour at weekend parties was glorified at school and boosted a girl's rank among the club's 21 members.
Hannan said St Patrick's had taken the suitable steps to support all students in working through the difficult issues of peer pressure and adolescent friendship groups.