Cyber bullying is becoming a significant concern in our world where IT has become such an integral part of everyone’s lives.
Cyber bullying can consist of abusive texts or emails, hurtful messages, images or videos, hurtful online behaviour, and/or humiliating or hurtful gossip or chat.
Cyber bullying is often anonymous but is shared by others, copied and stored in different places so that the victim feels it can never be eradicated.
To address cyber bullying, it is important that parents and teachers encourage children not to share their passwords, names, addresses and contact details with people they do not know. Most social networking sites have options to set up privacy criteria.
Children can be taught what to do when they see bullying behaviour on the internet. Offensive content needs to be saved so that the abuse can be followed up.
Those who are confident may be comfortable responding to an inappropriate message with a phrase such as: “Come on, you have gone too far, this is bullying” or simply “Not funny”. Not all children will feel comfortable doing this, so children can be encouraged to tell an adult when they see something of concern.
It is possible to make a complaint to the Office of Children’s eSafety Commissioner if content is not removed by the social media site within 48 hours – see https://esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullying. This website also has lots of advice.
There are no specific laws in Australia against cyber bullying, but offenders can be charged under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995 which makes it an offence to misuse telecommunication services.
Children over 14 years of age can be held criminally liable under this act. Children between 11 and 14 years of age can only be criminally liable if it is clear they understood they should not have committed the offence.
Living in an online city, Armidale parents need to ensure that their children are well prepared to manage cyber bullying so that they recognise it and take action before it escalates.
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