How Do We Stop Cyber-Bullying In Our Schools?
Cyber-bullying has once again reared its ugly head, and it's a problem nobody seems to be able to stop.
"Everyone wants to hate you, everyone wants to f***ing kill you!"
"You're probably gonna kill yourself before I f***ing kill you, but you know what? I want to f***ing kill you!"
A schoolgirl on the Gold Coast was the subject of this shocking torrent of abuse in a video posted last week by two other girls.
Bullying used to be confined to classrooms and playgrounds, where teachers could often keep a watchful eye on their students -- but bullying on social media and through technology like smartphones means the problem now follows children home.
"When you get verbally bullied at school, you go home and you're in a safe space," associate professor Sharon Burns, of the School of Public Health at Curtin University, told 10 daily.
"But for a lot of these kids, most of the cyber-bullying is happening after school, and it's difficult to regulate. It's difficult to monitor."
One of the main issues surrounding online abuse, according to Burns, is people don't take what they put online seriously enough.
"Kids can put things on social media really quickly without thinking, and so often before you say something to someone you think about it," she said.
"Cyber-bullying can happen really quickly, things can spread really quickly."
So, what can be done to help a child who is suffering this sort of abuse?
One girl in Queensland was told to kill herself in an online video. (Image AAP)
In recent years, cyber-bullying has become a legal issue, with both federal and state laws covering online interaction.
Guidelines laid out by Youth Law Australia point specifically to the issues of telling a person to kill themselves, threatening violence against others and posting nude or sexual images without consent.
"Under national law, it is a crime to use a phone or the internet to send or post anything that encourages or helps someone to commit suicide," the guidelines state.
Law enforcement is looking to crack down on the issue as well, with NSW Police encouraging any victims of cyber-bullying to come forward.
"If someone is threatening, bullying or harassing you online, police want to know about it. You don’t have to put up with it and police can take action," police said in a statement.
Burns says in the cases of bullying, threatening to kill someone or telling someone to kill themselves, prosecution may be the only way to solve the problem.
"It may be harsh, but we maybe should be reporting things like that a little more often and prosecuting," Burns said.
"I think when things are criminal offences and they're not prosecuted then people don't really take them seriously."
According to Burns, people aren't taking threats in cyberbullying seriously enough. (Image AAP)
To reduce the effects of this kind of bullying, education within schools is absolutely essential, experts say.
"The role of schools is really important and although we shouldn't expect the schools to solve everything, they can actually play a really positive role in preventing cyber-bullying," Burns said.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
If you need help in a crisis, or just need someone to talk to, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800
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Feature Image: AAP