Impersonation rises as serious cyberbullying issue

Young people creating impersonator accounts online to bully, incite violence, or make sexually suggestive, rude and offensive remarks is a rising trend in cyberbullying complaints received by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, revealed in its six month report  released today.

'These accounts may not only damage the reputation of the child who has had their identity misused, but also harms others who are targeted by the cyberbullying coming from the account,' says Commissioner Alastair MacGibbon.

From 1 July to 31 December 2015, the Office resolved 92 cyberbullying complaints, with serious cyberbullying material removed in less than 8 hours. Other issues dealt with included seriously abusive comments, violent threats, offensive images and videos, hate pages and hacking of accounts. Over 2,500 young people in need of further support were referred to Kids Helpline1.

During this period the Office also completed 5,561 online content investigations, and worked with international partners to remove 4,008 URLs containing child sexual abuse material.

'Education plays a critical role in building resilience in young people to help them deal with the challenges they may face as they increasingly participate online,' says MacGibbon.

The Office provided online safety education to over 70,000 students, teachers and parents  through Virtual Classrooms and face to face outreach.

Last month the Office certified 18 provider organisations of online safety programs, to give schools greater certainty when choosing online safety education programs. The Government is committed to providing $7.5 million funding for schools to use to engage certified provider organisations.

'As an Office we will continue to provide support for young people and the community, to enable them to have positive experiences online. We look to the next six months for bigger challenges, as online risks and threats evolve,' said MacGibbon.

For further online safety information and resources, or to make a complaint about serious cyberbullying material or illegal online content, visit www.esafety.gov.au.

1 Kids Helpline referrals from 1 July to 30 November 2015

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