Taking a stand, together

Earlier this week, millions of Australians tuned into #Bullied, the ABC Documentary, ably hosted and sensitively handled by Ian Thorpe. I expect that many Australians like me were biting their fingernails as they watched Kelsey’s unrelenting harassment and sorely wanted resolution and relief for him. Even his classmates, who were brought to tears when they witnessed his daily torment, resolved to stand up. Kelsey and his family were desperate to get help for their son and it did not happen until the cameras stepped in (if the harassment ceased entirely?).

How many other children across Australia—and around the world—suffer in silence and isolation like this? We all have to ask ourselves that question—what can we do, as parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, siblings, friends, educators and citizens of the community to stop this blight on adolescence?

Today, on the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, we’re working on helping our children and teens through these years—so their stories of growing up are, mostly, positive. But with research showing the prevalence of bullying and cyberbullying, we have an important role to play.

It’s worth noting the stats. Research by the eSafety Office in June 2016 showed that approximately one in five teens (14 - 17 year olds) report that they have been cyberbullied. Of those, 43 per cent reported that the primary form of cyberbullying they experienced is ‘social exclusion’. Of greater concern is the data which showed that one third of cyberbullying complaints made to the eSafety Office were about specific threats to a child’s safety. In addition, research by mental health organisation, ReachOut, highlighted that 23 per cent of 14 - 25 year olds had experienced offline bullying in the last 12 months.

So with an obvious need, we’re joining a movement to deliver the powerful message that bullying and violence—of any kind—is just not acceptable.

At the eSafety Office, we’re sharing resources with teachers, parents and children to help spread the word. Our activities include:

  • Virtual Classrooms for children in Years 4, 5 and 6 titled ‘Respectful chat, I can do that!’ These sessions help children to identify cyberbullying behaviour, deal with cyberbullying and seek support when it’s serious and remind them to always use respectful chat online.
  • esafety health check posters
  • The Office also provides downloadable posters encouraging viewers to undertake an eSafety health check, or conduct a DIY eSafety check
  • Release of a new video, Kara, under the Rewrite Your Story program. This powerful video looks at social exclusion and the benefit of a supportive friend/ bystander when cyberbullying occurs.

On the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence, try starting a conversation with the children and teens in your life about their online activities. And put yourself in their shoes—if you see them really struggling with friends, relationships or school, find out if bullying or cyberbullying is the cause—and consider how you can help.

Remember that, together, we can take a stand.

For more about cyberbullying, including how to make a complaint, visit the eSafety Office website.

Visit Bullying. No Way! for more about National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, as well as information and resources like Our Special Superpower—a video resource which helps to highlight the all-important role played by bystanders.

And don’t forget to spruik it on social using #NDA2017 #TakeAStandTogether #bullyingnoway