Cyber bullying

R U OK? Day, this Thursday September 13, is a simple reminder of the question we can all ask to spark a meaningful conversation with someone who might be struggling.

Cyber bullying can easily go unseen or unheard

Cyber bullying can easily go unseen or unheard

This R U OK? Day, find time to talk to about a prevalent problem that can easily go unseen or unheard: cyber bullying. With the influx of technology, from mobile phones to laptops, tablets to even gaming technologies, people can reach out and be reached at any time.

Yass Police Inspector Alison Brennan said cyber bullying was an increasing issue.

This leaves people, especially youth, vulnerable to harassment, threats and bullying online, which can be in the form of hurtful comments or images, fake profiles and being excluded. Research and recent cases show young people are more likely to self-harm or show suicidal behaviours because of cyber bullying.

So, as parents, carers or friends, what steps can we take?

The NSW Police have these guidelines for dealing with cyber bullying: block the bully; keep a record of threatening or intimidating messages; contact police about threatening, intimidating messages; report the bully to the social media platform; don’t reply to bullies; check privacy settings; and talk to someone you trust.

The key to preventing cyber bullying seems to be education, both for parents and young people.

Yass Police Inspector Alison Brennan said cyber bullying was an increasing issue, and difficult to determine as a criminal offence.

However, “we encourage anyone feeling fearful to contact police, at the very least for advice. If someone’s afraid, then that’s what we’re here for,” she said. Police regularly contacted local schools to evaluate situations and know the right time to respond, she said.

The key to preventing cyber bullying seems to be education, both for parents and young people. Parents should be aware of how their children might be contacting or being contacted by others and keep an eye out for behavioural clues of bullying or harassment.

Start a conversation with your children this R U OK? Day. Check they know they can talk to you, police and their school if they’re worried about conversations or activity happening online.

The website antibullying.nsw.gov.au is approved by the NSW Department of Education; people can report cyber bullying via esafety.gov.au; and a free, 24/7 phone and online counselling service is available for ages 5 to 25 via Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au. For crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.