Thursday, 26 March 2015

What to do when cyber-bullying gets serious

Contact: Helene Towers,  Campaign Manager for ACORN
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Location: Statewide Schools

Intended Audience: Students/Parents/Teachers

As young people are regularly online for both work and play, it can be hard for them to escape cyber-bullying. They often do not tell their parents or teachers out of fear that it will make the situation worse. Therefore, ongoing communication between teachers, parents and children is important to prevent and stop cyber-bullying.
Cyber-bullying is emotive for all involved, but thankfully, there are a number of great online resources offering advice and resources to students, teachers and parents/guardians, including the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network the ACORN. Cyber Smart, and Stay Smart Online.
But what do you do when cyberbullying gets serious and the person being bullied feels fearful, threatened or harassed?
There are Australian laws which apply to serious online harassment and online bullying behaviour and these cases can be reported to law enforcement authorities using the ACORN. An example of a cyber-bullying case that might be reported to the ACORN is below:

Louise is 15 years old and goes to high school in Darwin. Over the past few months, she has been experiencing bullying behaviour at school, which includes threatening and offensive emails and text messages from other students outside of school hours, and extends to threats of physical violence. She is starting to worry about her safety and feels fearful when she attends school.
Louise is encouraged to first discuss this with her parents and teacher. However, if the conduct continues, she could consider reporting this to police on 131 444 or online to the ACORN.
Thankfully, in most instances this situation can be avoided by encouraging children to speak up early. Both Stay Smart Online and Cyber Smart have resources available to teachers and parents/guardians to help facilitate these conversations and to put in place measures to reduce the occurrence and impact of cyberbullying.