50% of Victorian school children experience bullying online or at school*

The summer holidays are nearly over and many young people are starting to prepare for the new school year and a return to studies, but for some it also means facing the prospect of dealing with more bullying both in the school yard and online. The cases of cyber bullying through online social media sites are on the rise again.

For one young Melbourne school girl, the bulling she silently suffered last year became too much to face this year and sadly she took her own life on 9 January.

At only 14 years old, Sheniz Erkan had everything to live for. A lively girl who enjoyed soccer and had a real zest for life, this should have been a year of carefree adventure for her.

Her brother Aykut Erkan believes the bullying had been going on a long time. He told talk station 3AW:

“Parents need to keep more track of Facebook and the internet… There are problems that they might not know about that are being kept online… These days there is so much technology and cyber stuff going on it’s like a whole other world… “Kids can just hide behind their keyboards, write whatever they want without worrying about the repercussions.”

Chairman for beyondblue, Mr Kennett said cyber-bullying was “happening all the time” and that “the easiest thing in the world is to blame the school. It’s not the school’s responsibility about how another child behaves to another person – that is about upbringing, it’s about parental responsibility.”

Susan McLean Cyber safety expert and Generation Next speaker said “Cyber bullying can be described as any harassment, insults and humiliation that occurs through the electronic mediums such as email, mobile phones, social networking sites, instant messaging programs, chat rooms, web-sites and through the playing of online games”.

Forms of cyber bullying include:

  • Harassing and threatening messages
  • Sending nasty SMS, IM’s pictures or prank phone calls
  • Using person’s screen name or password to pretend to be them
  • Forwarding others’ private emails, messages, pictures or videos
  • Posting mean or nasty comments or pictures
  • Sending sexually explicit images – ‘sexting’
  • Intentionally excluding others from an online group

If you or someone you know have experienced cyber bullying or are suffering from depression, you can get help at youthbeyondblue.

A seminar presenting the latest information about online cyber bullying is taking place in Sydney on Friday 16 March 2012. It is geared towards  parents, carer or educational professionals. For more details go to  Kids in Cyberspace.

*Department of Education’s most recent State of Victoria’s Children report

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: The Australian.  Cybersafety solutions