No to cyberbullying
Estimates suggest that one in five Australian children aged 8 to 15 have experienced ‘cyberbullying’. This can occur using social media, text messaging, email, image sharing and other platforms. It can include sending intentionally hurtful messages, spreading rumours or lies, sharing humiliating or embarrassing images, and sometimes even making threats.
Cyberbullying can impede learning, create feelings of fear and depression, and damage self-esteem. In extreme cases, it can lead to self-harm. Parents and other adults often miss seeing this kind of bullying since it frequently hides behind personal accounts and passwords.
Whilst most cyberbullying occurs outside of school hours, it often originates at school and involves classmates. As the territory’s children and young people return to school, it is important, therefore, for parents and carers to keep their eyes open for signs of trouble.
Today I addressed this topic in the Assembly to raise community awareness and to encourage those who care for and work with children to learn more about this issue. The website of the Australian Government’s eSafety Commissioner lists both symptoms of cyberbullying and steps that can be taken to address the harms. I strongly encourage all adults to familiarise themselves with this information.
Parents can reduce risk by talking with their children before cyberbullying occurs and by setting clear guidelines for technology use at home. Additional tips and resources are available from the Australian Institute of Family Studies. And kids who are being bullied or who want to help their friends can obtain 24-hour support from the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.