A Cyber-Education

Cyber bullying does not have to exist. PHOTO CREDIT: Social Media Marketing

Cyber Bullying is still a problem especially among young adults.

By Domanii Cameron

Despite the vast technological advancements that society experiences, cyber bullying should not be considered inescapable if children are educated appropriately.

Cyber bullying continues to affect both children and adults daily through various means of online communication.

Mackay Crime Prevention Unit officer Sergeant Nigel Dalton says education is a key element in helping to decrease the frequency of cyber-bullying.

“Bullying has been around but the fact that we can now have it 24/7 on our phones or computers means that it’s more constant in a more direct way, where as before you had to catch up with someone face to face.

“It’s about learning how to communicate with each other again,” he says.

Legislation surrounding cyber-bullying should not be kept separate for children and adults.

“If we divide things up too much, then it becomes something like ‘he was nearly out of that age group; he was nearly an adult’ and vice versa and it all gets messy.

“It’s a really grey area,” Sargeant Dalton says .

“It has to be backed up with a huge amount of education.”

 

Cyber bullying does not have to exist. PHOTO CREDIT: Social Media Marketing

Cyber bullying does not have to exist. PHOTO CREDIT: Social Media Marketing

 

CEO of Queensland Youth Services Wendy Lang however, says that laws should be kept separate.

“A child can probably and innocently break the law and when I say innocently, I mean they don’t realise the consequences,” she says.

Lang says compared to a child,  an adult should be aware of what they are doing.

“A young person is likely to write emotional comments using the technology without understanding the consequences of writing those comments,” she says.

“I don’t think someone whose maturity levels who aren’t as quite as developed as an adult’s quite understand the repercussions of their actions.”

James Cook University tutor and PhD candidate Kerryn Brack says there is concern that children do not realise what they are doing.

“Children don’t understand the consequences of it [cyber-bullying],” Brack says.

“I think the laws that need to be brought in, need to be focused on educating not just punishing.”

Brack is writing her PhD on cyber bullying and is currently conducting a survey for it.

She says that programs being adopted overseas could work in Australia.

“There was chat, sort of in Australia, but mostly overseas that looked at bringing in programs in schools where children actually set up and decide what is appropriate and what isn’t,” Brack says.

“It has the dual affect of educating them; what they think is wrong and what’s not acceptable and letting them feel that they have control over it and that they can help stop and prevent it.

“Having children involved when trying to look at preventative measures is a really important thing,” she says.

There isn’t one form of technology that cyber-bullying is worse in.

“Every study finds a different type of technology that is worse,” Brack says.

“I guess it depends on which technology is more popular.

“When they first started doing research, things like Facebook weren’t very popular; emails were but now they’ve found that chat rooms and things like Facebook are the worst.”

Brack says cyber-bullying is being reported more frequently.

“Research shows that numbers have slowly increased,” she says.

“It could just be that people are reporting it and recognising it but either way there is more awareness.”

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If you are or have been a victim of cyber-bullying, there is help available through Lifeline on 13 11 14.