Italy has become the first country in Europe to ban mobile phones in the classroom.

The ban comes after several so-called ‘happy slapping’ incidents where disabled students were bullied and the films posted on the internet. One video shows Italian pupils sexually harassing a female teacher.

Children who persist in using their phones after the ban will be disciplined either by having the mobiles confiscated, or excluding them from exams.

Italy’s education minister Giuseppe Fioroni said harsher punishments would be used in extreme cases where safety is put at risk.