Community call to be watchful for cyber bullying

There is a nation-wide push to fight back against the trend of cyber bullying. Image Shutterstock.
There is a nation-wide push to fight back against the trend of cyber bullying. Image Shutterstock.

Busselton headspace say the region’s youth are not immune to cyber bullying and have called on the community to be vigilant as school returns for 2018.

headspace Bunbury and Busselton centre manager Marie Eckersley said its feedback showed a number of young people aged between 13 to 17 had been affected by bullying, whether it was covert or overt.

“These unfortunate cases we have seen in the media show the direct link between bullying and mental health, however there needs to be a stronger message from higher levels to increase community awareness on the damaging effects on families and societies as a whole,” she said.

Youth mental health, suicide and bullying was thrust in to the national spotlight following the highly-publicised death of 14-year-old Amy 'Dolly' Everett in January.

National anti-bullying groups are currently lobbying the Australian government to make changes.

The Carly Ryan Foundation is calling for Dolly’s Law, a plan to ban young bullies from social media – similar to a physical Apprehended Violence Order.

Angels Hope have launched a cyber initiative, which aims to end the prevalence of cyber-bullying and trolling.

The organisation has launched a petition calling on the federal government to implement a two-step verification process when registering a social media account to remove anonymity.

Ms Eckersley said there were strengths to the initiatives, but these changes alone would not stop the bullying.

She said collaboration from the community, parents, teachers and students was required to address the issue.

Ms Eckersley added it was important for young people to safeguard themselves from online bullying by understanding their social media privacy settings, saving evidence and speaking to a trust adult.

headspace’s call came as Commissioner for Children and Young People Colin Pettit submitted The Speaking Out About School and Learning publication to state parliament.

The report found one in 10 primary school students and one in five WA high school students do not always feel safe in school, due to being concerned someone would hurt them or bully them.

Compared to the size of WA’s student population, this equates to around 50,000 Year 3 to Year 12 students.

The publication involved more than 1800 students from all regions of the state and across government, Catholic and independent schools.

Readers seeking help can contact Lifeline on 13 11 44, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or 000 in an emergency.