Shocking statistics were recently released that showed Australia had ranked third in the world when it came to Google searches for ‘cyber bullying’. I’ll let that sink in. Third. We Australians have always taken pride in ‘helping a mate out’ and ‘giving someone a go’, so how has something like ‘cyberbullying’ gotten so out of control?
I define cyberbullying as the use of technology to bully a group or person. It’s intent is to harm, harass and vilify others online. Facebook and twitter have been shown to be the big hotspots with children often being targeted, but how bad has cyberbullying become?
When Shane Gerada sent over 200 abusive text messages to 17-year old Allem Halkic over the course of a few months, the messages got worse and worse. “Ur all mouth and no action, wait till I get my hands on u” read one message via the website MySpace. “I’m telling u know ill put you in hospital” read another.
Soon after these messages were sent, Halkic committed suicide.
Sentenced to 200 hours of community service, the magistrate who presided over Gerada’s case made reference to the fact that young people must think about the consequences of cyberbullying and defamatory text messages.
But clearly for Halkic’s family, the damage was already done.
With cases like Halkic’s becoming more and more common, the demand for awareness about cyberbullying is on the rise. In fact, Google recorded a staggering 33400 searches for the term ‘cyberbullying’ in one month and websites dedicated to this epidemic have started appearing.
One of these websites is the fantastic NoBullying.com which features articles for students, teachers and parents curious about cyberbullying laws and defusing strategies. The founders of this website regularly update cyberbullying statistics in order to demonstrate how widespread the problem is and it’s a great destination for raising awareness.
One of the founders of NoBullying.com (Macartan Mulligan) commented recently that while the recent interest in cyberbullying is a good thing, he looks forward to the day when it is a thing of the past.
Parents and teachers need to educate younger generations about the damaging outcomes of bullying both on and off line. This is an issue that simply can’t be ignored which is why websites such as NoBullying.com is first step to a solution.
Have a look at Government website cyber[smart] for information on keeping children safe and secure online.