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Online Safety
Mar 05, 2014: Cyber bullying: easy to perpetrate, hard to stop
Mar 05, 2014: New law sets a net for cyberbullies
Mar 02, 2014: Hundreds rally to remember Chloe
Mar 01, 2014: New laws may help bullying crackdown
Feb 28, 2014: Tragic star Charlotte Dawson's death unleashes thousands of cyber-bullying reports
Feb 28, 2014: Teen's cyberbullying plea
Feb 21, 2014: Parties pledge to pursue anti-bullying laws after March 15 poll
Feb 20, 2014: Internet industry concerned about cyber bullying regulation
Feb 20, 2014: Facebook can't stop cyber bullies
Feb 08, 2014: Teen uses speech to beat the bullies who harassed her at school
Nov 30, 2013: Internet trolls and cyber-bullies face jail
Nov 28, 2013: Vile Facebook burn book returns after being shut down
Nov 26, 2013: Call for more cyber bullying training
Nov 18, 2013: Coroner examines role of cyberbullying and media
Nov 17, 2013: The horrifying world of online fat-shaming
Nov 16, 2013: Facebook 'burn page' angers Adelaide parents
Nov 07, 2013: Chloe's Law
Oct 24, 2013: Will Facebook’s new teen privacy settings keep younger users safer?
Oct 11, 2013: Anti-bullying campaign hits schools
Oct 01, 2013: Facebook, Twitter top agenda as cyber bullying policy takes shape
Sep 27, 2013: Tasmanians take anti-bullying stand
Sep 23, 2013: Calls for laws to combat cyber bullying
Sep 19, 2013: Tragic family's crusade against bullying
Sep 17, 2013: Tony Abbott urged to tackle the cyber bullies
Sep 16, 2013: 'No blame' strategies work, but only vigilance beats the bullies
Aug 24, 2013: Australia ranked one in cyberbullying
Aug 15, 2013: Schools could be sued for cyber bullying: experts
Aug 09, 2013: Schools seek parents' help to fight cyber bullies by monitoring online activity
Jul 28, 2013: Unley High School students suspended for cyber-bullying, sparks warning about dangers of social media
Jul 19, 2013: National approach needed to combat bullying, symposium hears
Jul 18, 2013: Bullying harm akin to that from sexual abuse, judge says
Jul 15, 2013: Two Melbourne men held in nationwide child-exploitation sting
Jul 13, 2013: Radical plan to charge children as young as 10 with criminal offence for bullying
Jul 12, 2013: Judge says generation gap causing issues with cyber bullyng
Jul 12, 2013: Children out for revenge breaking the law and putting others at risk by posting nude images online
Jun 26, 2013: How to tackle cyber-bullying
May 22, 2013: Suffering in silence - kids won't report bullies
May 22, 2013: Teenagers have met with strangers who made contact with them via the internet
May 21, 2013: Christchurch school slams cyber-bullies
May 20, 2013: Parents take extreme action on faceless bullying
May 20, 2013: Cyber Security Awareness Week amabassador Leonie Smith says parents fail to see cyber dangers
May 11, 2013: Star Wars Kid speaks up about cyberbullying
May 08, 2013: Cyber bullying cases prompt call for new laws
Apr 16, 2013: Cyberbullying
Apr 12, 2013: Victim's plea on cyber scourge
Apr 04, 2013: Anti-cyber bullying agency slammed as 'waste of money'
Mar 26, 2013: Australian schools 'facing psychological health crisis'
Mar 24, 2013: Cyber-bullying not restricted to youth
Mar 03, 2013: Survey finds cyber bullying patterns in Perth high schoolers
Feb 26, 2013: New internet law to target online prowlers
Feb 26, 2013: Students Slam Cyber Bullying
Feb 25, 2013: Five teens injured in open-invite Facebook party
Feb 24, 2013: Cyber-bullying blamed for death
Feb 24, 2013: Don't give cyber punks a free pass
Feb 21, 2013: Effects of cyberbullying
Feb 19, 2013: The Many Ways Kids Cyber Bully
Feb 16, 2013: Cyberbullying: Nowhere to hide
Jan 31, 2013: Police search for four men linked to Kensington Facebook kidnapping
Jan 30, 2013: Anti-cyber-bullying tool creator inks deals with hardware giants
Jan 19, 2013: Cyberbullies use bogus Facebook pages to target victims
Jan 18, 2013: Anti Bullying Week 2013
Jan 17, 2013: Labor's backflip on cyber safety a net gain for kids
Jan 02, 2013: How to avoid cyber-bullying and keep your children safe online
Dec 02, 2012: Teens React to Chilling Cyberbullying Video
Nov 27, 2012: Test urged before kids use phones at school
Nov 19, 2012: Online rants land Facebook and Twitter users in legal trouble
Nov 16, 2012: Opposition research on social media and internet devices shows children fighting over Facebook
Nov 13, 2012: After Carly Ryan's death, her mum Sonya channelled her grief into a crusade
Nov 12, 2012: Sexual abuse, gore, racism, bullying rampant on Australian school Facebook pages
Oct 31, 2012: High school students suspended over abusive Facebook posts
Oct 28, 2012: Bullied teen befriended by football team
Sep 06, 2012: ProtectaChild on Today Tonight
Sep 04, 2012: ProtectaChild new TV Commercial has gone live today
Aug 22, 2012: Cyberbullying victim's family reaches out
Aug 19, 2012: Empathy work lost on one in five cyber bullies
Aug 15, 2012: New Zealand mulls new cyber-bullying law
Aug 13, 2012: Cyber bullying tips
Aug 05, 2012: Bullying without borders: cyber bullying
Aug 03, 2012: Facebook says it has 83 million dubious accounts
Aug 03, 2012: Raising good digital citizens
Jul 29, 2012: Mount Isa man, 28, arrested for allegedly using internet to lure children for sex
Jul 19, 2012: Tips on how to protect young people from online grooming
Jul 14, 2012: Dad fights bullies with iPad app
Jul 11, 2012: Social network 'predator' arrested
Jul 09, 2012: Cyber Predators - Brett Lee on A Current Affair
Jun 29, 2012: Prison a possibility for pregnant 16-year-old school bully
Jun 21, 2012: ProtectaChild TV Commercial has gone live today
Jun 20, 2012: Safety in numbers the key to beating cyber bullying
Jun 19, 2012: ProtectaChild: For a worried mum, it's the web patrol
Jun 14, 2012: Software to protect children online
Jun 13, 2012: Battling cybr-bullies online
Jun 06, 2012: Beating the bullies by screening for help in Brighton
May 31, 2012: Cyber bullies, victims, likely to engage in self-destructive behaviour
Apr 20, 2012: Cyber bullies hotspot
Mar 09, 2012: Cyber bullies not aware of implications to victims
Mar 05, 2012: Day of action to fight bullying

March 06, 2014:
Cyber bullying: easy to perpetrate, hard to stop

Charlotte's Law is the new clarion call of a campaign for tougher laws against cyber bullies, bolstered by proactive quick fixes by social media sites to control offensive user behaviour.

It's a campaign that directly honours celebrity Charlotte Dawson who recently took her own life - a tragic outcome that prompted public cries accusing cyber bullying as being partly responsible for driving the former model to despair. Charlotte was undoubtedly a victim of Twitter trolls in 2012, a hate campaign that included a slew of vicious tweets and precipitated her first suicide attempt.

Understandably, those who cared about Charlotte want to perpetuate her memory. But we need to be wary of bandwagons of easy fixes.

Social media platforms are conduits for conversations and opinions of infinite richness and absorbing interest. Millions rely on these networks to foster their friendships and pursue their passions and causes, to guide them in their choices about food, travel and entertainment, to reach out and help others in emergencies to provoke and question complacent beliefs and shine light on the issues and the stories they care about, not just those that are covered by mainstream media. Anyone who has something to say can use social media sites to say it and trust that it will be immediately sent un-filtered to the intended audience. The freedom of expression offered by these platforms is their greatest contribution to our society. It also poses a significant social challenge. Advertisement

Digital technology facilitates consequence-free communication. Malicious, idiotic and irresponsible people avail themselves of the freedom of social media platforms to lie, scam, attack and hurt others in a myriad of ways. It is easy to post hateful remarks online when we know we will never have to look our victim in the eyes.

View original article here

March 05, 2014:
New law sets a net for cyberbullies

Once merely frowned upon, spouting vitriol on the internet could soon land you in jail. Cassandra Mason investigates our growing cyberbullying problem and what is being done to fight it.

The recent death of long-time cybertroll victim Charlotte Dawson has sparked vigorous moral debate about the evils of the internet.

Some are calling for an end to anonymity in cyberspace, while others want to see offenders in court.

If made law, legislation now before Parliament would make it a crime to attack others online.

The link between online bullying and suicide - especially among young people - has come into the spotlight, aided by the popularity of films like 2012 US documentary Bully.

Stories like that of Canadian teenager Rehtaeh Parsons are also helping to bring the problem into the mainstream.

The 17-year-old Nova Scotia teenager took her own life in April last year following months of online harassment.

The attacks were launched when photos of Miss Parsons allegedly being gang raped at a party more than a year earlier circulated online.

There is evidence of similarly cruel acts here in New Zealand, a country with shocking youth suicide rates and high levels of online bullying. View original article here

March 02, 2014:
Hundreds rally to remember Chloe

CHLOE Fergusson's greatest fear in life was being forgotten.

Yesterday, as hundreds gathered on the lawns of Parliament House to call for new anti-bullying legislation in the wake of Chloe's untimely death last year, her best friend, Lauren Cash, said it was obvious the life of the vibrant ­15-year-old would be remembered.

Lauren was one of many who became emotional during the touching tribute yesterday, which included speeches by Chloe's sister, Cassie Whitehall, Attorney-General Brian Wightman, shadow attorney-general Vanessa Goodwin, Greens leader Nick McKim and PUP candidate Deb Thurley.

"I found it really hard coming here today, and it was overwhelming seeing all the photos," Lauren said at the rally.

"But it was good seeing so many ­people here supporting Chloe. One thing she used to talk about was being worried about people not remembering her. After today, I know she is going to be remembered for a very long time. View original article here

March 01, 2014:
New laws may help bullying crackdown

A SPECIFIC law to crackdown on cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking, including confiscating phones and computers, could be introduced to the Police Offences Act, if Attorney-General Brian Wightman gets his way.

Mr Wightman released the 2014 Anti-Bullying Discussion Paper yesterday, which he asked the Department of Justice to prepare last year following the death of a Hobart school girl, and there are two options for the government to consider.

The first is for the state's Criminal Code laws around cyber-bullying to stay the same, while the other is to introduce a summary offence to strengthen current laws.

Some forms of bullying are already covered under the Criminal Code, but are not specifically referred to as cyber-bullying or cyber- stalking.

Mr Wightman said he would like to introduce specific laws to crackdown on young people engaged in bullying and introduce new offences, such as cyber-bullying and cyber- stalking, in to the Police Offences Act.

Mr Wightman said he would also explore introducing a set of penalties for these offences ranging from compulsory fines to the confiscation of phones and computers. View original article here

February 28, 2014:
Tragic star Charlotte Dawson's death unleashes thousands of cyber-bullying reports

THE death of TV personality Charlotte Dawson has uncovered a scourge of cyber-bullying, with thousands of Australian's describing online campaigns of harassment.

More than 8000 people have told stories of suicide, attempted suicide, marriage break-ups, cyberstalking and pleas for help being ignored by police.

The comments were left on online petition "Charlotte's Law", which has attracted more than 174,000 supports calling for tougher laws on cyber-bulling.

It was created following trolling victim Dawson's suicide last weekend.

And it follows the Mercury this week discovering a well-known local magistrate has become the victim of trolls in the wake of a sentence handed down this year.

The magistrate was described on Facebook as "weak as p..s" and "a piece of s..t".

Other users made comments of a vile nature.

It comes as hundreds of people are expected to rally outside Parliament tomorrow in a show of strength against bullying. View original article here

February 28, 2014:
Teen's cyberbullying plea

A 13-year-old girl has been forced to move schools after a bully posted fake nude photos of her on Facebook.

Now she is pleading for more to be done to help victims of cyber hate.

It was two months ago when a fake Facebook page was set up in Brooke's name.

Mum Bec, who has asked 7News not to use the family's surname, claims a 12-year-old schoolmate of Brooke's was behind it.

Brooke said: "She was inboxing all my friends asking for naked photos of all my friends, saying that she was me and sending them too."

Distraught and embarrassed, this teen felt her only hope was to change schools.

"I want to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else because it hurts a lot," Brooke added.

Mum Bec added: "I felt terrible, I felt helpless."

Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary for Communications, said: "Today the law regarding cyberbullying is pretty complex so we're looking at whether there should be a simpler cyber-bullying offence and we've got a discussion paper out right now seeking the community's views on that."

That paper has also proposed the creation of a children's 'e-safety commissioner' to help protect kids from cyberbullying on social media .

Mr Fletcher added: "If the children's e-safety commisioner agrees this is cyberbullying they will say to the large site, you need to take this down.

Submissions are due next Friday. View original article here

February 21, 2014:
Parties pledge to pursue anti-bullying laws after March 15 poll

ANTI-BULLYING laws, particularly focused on cyber-bullying, could be introduced after the March 15 State Election in the wake of the Chloe's Law campaign.

Cassie Whitehill has been fighting for tough penalties against bullies since the loss of her sister Chloe in 2013, who committed suicide after years of verbal, physical and online abuse.

The Chloe's Law Facebook page has close to 300,000 members and a national petition has collected about 46,000 signatures.

The campaign was strongly supported by the community and the Mercury.

Attorney-General Brian Wightman said the laws were needed to crackdown on young bullies. people engaged in bullying.

"No-one in Tasmania should be living in fear of bullies," he said.

"We know that bullying causes harm. We know, tragically, that in some cases it can cost lives. We cannot be a state that in any way tolerates ­bullying."

Paul Fletcher is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Communications. View original article here

February 20, 2014:
Internet industry concerned about cyber bullying regulation

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Government is stepping up the pressure on the world's biggest social media companies, saying children need to be protected from cyber bullying.

The Coalition is vowing to legislate to give the Federal Government the power to force social media companies to remove content from their sites.

But the industry says it's a threat to free speech as Will Ockenden reports.

WILL OCKENDEN: The Federal Government says it's getting tough on cyber bullies and the internet sites they use.

Paul Fletcher is the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Communications. View original article here

February 20, 2014:
Facebook can't stop cyber bullies

Today Tony Abbott has hit back at Facebook and Google, saying we need more legal sanctions to stop children being bullied on the internet.

Bullying is a terrible thing. I remember it going on at my school. Obviously we didn't have cyber bullying - it was just done face to face. But it was not fun for the people who were the subject of it.

These days cyber bullying certainly makes it easier for people to be picked on and kids can get bullied at all hours of the day.

But to suggest that Facebook and Google can do something about cyber bullying is just fanciful in the extreme. View original article here

February 08, 2014:
Teen uses speech to beat the bullies who harassed her at school

VICTORIAN teen Hannah Swinnerton was bullied every day of her school life.

She was called "fat", "ugly", "stupid" and "retard".

But on the last day of school, she decided to stand up for herself.

In a scene reminiscent of the movie Mean Girls, she read a speech that told her peers what impact their bullying had on her. By the end of it, many teachers and students were crying.

As she put it: "I stood up for myself because that was the only option to take and standing up to the bullies was a good thing because some of the bullies came up to me and said sorry."

In her speech, she said: "Every time I get bullied. I feel sometimes scared about what's going to happen next.

"When going to school, I should be learning new things and achieving my goals, instead of getting bullied and feeling unsafe at school.

View original article here

November 30, 2013:
Internet trolls and cyber-bullies face jail

CHILD cyber bullies will be sentenced to community service, ordered to undergo counselling or forced to apologise to victims.

And adult trolls who deface online tribute pages face tough new sentences under plans to make cyber bullying an offence under Commonwealth law.

The Abbott Government is working on laws that will make it easier for prosecutors to charge cyber bullies by simplifying a current "menacing" offence, which attracts jail time.

The crackdown will be supported by new laws and a complaints system that will allow "harmful" material to be pulled off websites quickly. The plan is being discussed with state and territory ministers.

View original article here

November 28, 2013:
Vile Facebook burn book returns after being shut down

A TEENAGE anti-bullying advocate has been viciously targeted by a cowardly anonymous Facebook page that spreads sexually explicit rumours about Adelaide school students.

Creators of a new Adelaide burn book page - which has garnered more than 1600 likes since it was created on November 8 - appropriated and defaced 19-year-old Billy Russell's Facebook profile photo after he posted on the page about the dangers of cyber-bullying.

In the photo displayed prominently on the site as a cover image, Billy's face has been replaced with a potato with the words "F**k Billy Russell" typed underneath.

Billy, a Year 13 student at Urrbrae Agricultural High School, is the founder of Teen Support Network , a social media organisation to help those suffering from harassment at school, the workplace and at home.

He founded the group in memory of a friend who committed suicide after experiencing verbal, physical, and cyber-bullying because of his homosexuality.

View original article here

November 26, 2013:
Call for more cyber bullying training

NEARLY six out of 10 educators say they need more training on how to deal with cyber bullying, according to the annual Australian Teacher Magazine survey.

The EducationSurvey 2013 found 59 per cent would like more training in the area. Of those, the majority (51 per cent) were aged over 50 and only 13 per cent were in the 21 to 30 age group.

Participants were also asked if their school has a policy on dealing with cyber bullying: 87 per cent said yes, 5 per cent said no and 9 per cent were unsure.

The survey was a chance for thousands of educators working across the country to have their say on a range of issues, including technology in schools.

"I feel that technological changes are made in our college and teachers are expected to embrace them with little or no knowledge of their use and capabilities," one participant commented.

View original article here

November 18, 2013:
Coroner examines role of cyberbullying and media

The mother of a Geelong teenager who took her life in 2009 believes reports about other suicides in the media contributed to her daughter's death.

The Coroners Court is sitting in Geelong to examine the deaths of teenagers Chanelle Rae, Zach Harvey and Taylor Janssen, who killed themselves in 2009.

They were students at different campuses of Western Heights College.

Karen Rae told the court the local newspaper had in-depth coverage of the deaths of the other two teens, and that might have put the idea in her daughter's head.

She said she was hounded by the press in the days and weeks after her daughter's death and she still will not answer the home phone.

View original article here

November 17, 2013:
The horrifying world of online fat-shaming

Caitlin Seida knows all about cruelty on the Internet.

She first dealt with cyberbullying in middle school. Social media was a new beast back then - people used Livejournal and Myspace, not Facebook and Instagram - but teens learned quickly that lashing out at someone from behind the glowing pixels of a computer screen was easier than doing it face-to-face, but could cut your target just as bad.

Caitlin and her mother went to the police during a particularly brutal online-harassment campaign, but the cops had no precedent: They didn't know what to do or how to stop it. The best advice they gave her then was to just stay off the Internet.

Flash-forward to January of 2013. Caitlin was 24. She had shaken off the shackles of her middle school torture. The Internet wasn't scary anymore. She liked social media and used Facebook to connect with friends - chatting, posting, and uploading pictures, just like everybody else.

But one morning she woke up to a startling message from a friend: "You're Internet famous."

Caitlin followed a link to a Web page dedicated to mocking people's appearances. And there it was: her image - a picture snapped several Octobers before, when she had dressed up as Lara Croft for Halloween. But instead of "Tomb Raider," someone had plastered "Fridge Raider" across the photo. And that wasn't the worst part. When Caitlin started scrolling through the comments, she broke down.

View original article here

November 16, 2013:
Facebook 'burn page' angers Adelaide parents

AN anonymous cyber bully was allowed to spread demeaning and sexually explicit rumours about Adelaide teenagers for almost a week before Facebook shut the crude page, angering parents who say they feel powerless to protect their children.

Despite receiving hundreds of complaints about the Adelaide Burn Book page, it took the social media site six days to close the page down - after initially saying the page did not breach its community guidelines.

The Adelaide Burn Book page was the latest in a string of "burn books" that feature unsolicited rumours and gossip about teenagers, predominantly of a sexual nature.

The page was set up on November 8 and Facebook closed it on November 13 after repeated complaints from parents and anti-bullying campaigners.

Parents have also reported the page to SA Police.

The page appeared to be moderated anonymously by a person or persons using the name GossipLAD and had garnered 2000 likes before it was shut down.

The full names of children were published on the page as well as schools including Rostrevor College, Henley High, Woodville High and Prince Alfred College.

The term "burn book" comes from the 2004 movie Mean Girls, where a group of teens used a book to write ­rumours and nasty comments about fellow students.

View original article here

November 07, 2013:
Chloe's Law

Chloe Fergusson was just like any other 15-year-old girl - she loved hanging out with her friends, talking about boys and she was always on Facebook.

Like so many teenagers, Chloe knew what it meant to be bullied.

For years she'd endured verbal and physical assaults but when Chloe went home and shut her bedroom door, the bullies were still there.

Because the latest, possibly greatest, weapon in bullying is social media.

For Chloe, the impact was devastating.

Last month, she took her own life.

It's left her friends and family shattered and now her sister Cassie is on a one-woman crusade to make bullying a crime.

View original article here

October 24, 2013:
Will Facebook’s new teen privacy settings keep younger users safer?

The newly-announced Facebook privacy settings for new teen accounts may have some positives, but don’t be surprised if it isn’t effective against cyber bullying, but also keeps parents from monitoring their own children’s cyber activities, says one expert.

Facebook’s privacy settings for new teenagers joining the site will at first allow only those the teen has friended to see his or her posts. If users aged 13-17 so choose, they can elect to have their posts public, but the automatic setting is friends-only.

However, will this help keep teens safer on Facebook? Steve Woda, CEO of — a firm that provides social media monitoring of kids’ accounts — doesn’t think these changes will help much.

Woda spoke with Inside Facebook about the teen privacy settings:

Generally speaking, I find teenagers are not great with the privacy settings. We see time and time again, teens making mistakes with regard to such settings. And it’s difficult, right now, for a lot of parents to know if their kids are online. We constantly deal with parents trying to get a handle on this.

One problem, says Woda, is many parents don’t understand social media sites well enough to follow all of their kids’ activities. The downside to the new policy is that not only can it keep such parents away from their kids’ pages, but the internet savvy will understand how to access the teens’ pages.

View original article here

October 11, 2013:
Anti-bullying campaign hits schools

The mother of a young girl hospitalised after a bullying attack is behind a project aiming to put a stop to the torment.

Former teacher Nicole Price has joined forces with several community group leaders to develop the anti-bullying programme Stand By Me supported by the Ministry of Social Development's Te Punanga Haumaru Fund.

The plan takes a holistic approach to support the bullied, the bully and the bystander.

Schools, including Onepoto Primary, Northcote Intermediate and Hato Petera College, will be involved in the pilot.

North Shore Family Violence Prevention Network co-ordinator Deb Humphries says the programme is unique because it works both inside and outside the school.

"We are ensuring there are support networks for kids at every stage and by working with the bystander we are equipping those with a social concern to intervene safely, to step up and speak out," she says.

Ms Price says parents and teachers are at a loss over how to combat what has become an epidemic.

A Victoria University researcher found that 94 per cent of staff surveyed had witnessed bullying in their schools.

Almost half said instances of verbal bullying were brought to their attention weekly and that cyber bullying was mostly carried out by girls aged 11 to 14.

"I became involved when a close family friend lost their child to suicide from bullying at just 10 years old," Ms Price says.

View original article here

October 01, 2013:
Facebook, Twitter top agenda as cyber bullying policy takes shape

THE Coalition is moving ahead with its plan to have Facebook and Twitter respond to cyber bullying complaints and remove "harmful material" that could lead to teenage depression and suicide.

Tackling cyber bullying is one of several issues on which the Coalition has begun consulting with interest groups.

This includes consultation on appointing a children's e-safety commissioner, legislation to set up a mechanism that would require social networks to address complaints about material harmful to children, and creating a simplified and unified cyber-bullying offence.

"We have begun a process of consulting with industry groups, parent groups and other relevant stakeholders, as we committed to in the policy (to enhance online safety for children)," a statement from the office of Paul Fletcher, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, said.

"Currently, we are focused on consultation with the key stakeholder groups."

It is understood industry groups are in a wide-ranging discussion with the government on its children's safety online policy. Parent groups, teachers and principals, industry bodies and peak telcos are understood to be among those consulted.

One initiative involves the government working with telcos such as Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to develop filtering software that can be installed on children's handsets.

View original article here

September 27, 2013:
Tasmanians take anti-bullying stand

Thousands of Tasmanians have taken part in an anti-bullying campaign following the tragic death of 15-year-old Hobart schoolgirl Chloe Fergusson.

The vibrant teen took her own life after being the subject of relentless physical and cyber bullying.

Her sister, Cassie Whitehill, has vowed to fight bullying through an online campaign titled 'Chloe's Law', which urges the government to introduce anti-bullying legislation and hopes to make the community more aware of the dangers of teenage bullying.

The Facebook page already has around 20,000 likes.

Ms Whitehill has dubbed today 'Say No To Bullying' Day, and has urged all Tasmanians to wear a touch of blue, Chloe's favourite colour.

View original article here

September 23, 2013:
Calls for laws to combat cyber bullying

The former Chief Justice of the Family Court, Alistair Nicholson believes the State and Commonwealth governments are not doing enough to combat bullying.

View original article here

September 19, 2013: The Herald Sun
Tragic family's crusade against bullying

CHLOE Fergusson gave the appearance of a typical teenage girl.

The 15-year-old loved watching Home and Away, listening to pop music and was interested in fashion.

She had aspirations to become a hairdresser or a beautician and always took immaculate care of her appearance.

Like many teenage girls Chloe would take "selfies" and post the pictures on Facebook.

The youngest of six siblings, Chloe lost her mother after she had a long battle with breast cancer in 2006 when Chloe was just seven. The family pulled together and remain close.

Yet none of her brothers or sisters was aware that for three tortured years Chloe was the victim of severe physical, verbal, mental and cyber bullying.

"We could not believe that the girl we knew as so happy, confident and compassionate could be seen as otherwise by anyone else. We were horrified," said Chloe's oldest sister, Cassie Whitehill, 30.

Last Tuesday, Chloe caught the bus into town after school, as she did every weekday.

Ms Whitehill said two people were waiting for Chloe at the Elizabeth St bus mall.

She was king-hit from behind, kicked, and the assault filmed on a phone camera by the attacker's accomplice.

Ms Whitehill said the video was posted on Facebook that night. It has since been removed.

Two days after the attack, Chloe was found in her room after taking her own life.

"I got a phone call and it was a big, massive shock. No one saw it coming. I saw her a couple of days before and she was her usual, happy self," Ms Whitehill said.

View original article here

September 17, 2013: The Australian
Tony Abbott urged to tackle the cyber bullies

THE incoming Coalition government is being urged to reduce the incidence of suicides induced by cyber-bullying by fulfilling its election promise to demand that Facebook and Twitter be part of a government-sponsored complaints program.

In its pre-election policy to enhance online safety for children, the Coalition pledged to establish a Children's e-Safety Commissioner along with legislation that can order large social network sites to "get harmful material down fast".

The Australian Christian Lobby yesterday urged the new government to proceed with the plan despite reservations among some social media providers. Managing director Lyle Shelton said self-regulation of complaints by social media "was not enough", and social media sites had been "lax" in dealing with complaints.

"Self-regulation has been shown to be a monumental failure - the complaints process is never responsive. There does have to be an oversight body with teeth and with penalties for non-compliance," Mr Shelton said.

"I think people would acknowledge that it (social media) is the Wild West."

The Coalition has confirmed that Liberal MP and former Optus executive Paul Fletcher, the new Parliamentary Secretary to Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull, will have carriage of the legislation. No deadline has been set for the appointment of the Children's e-Safety Commissioner.

Twitter and Facebook would not comment yesterday, but both promote their own rules to deal with complaints about illegal and abusive content, and its removal.

The alarming number of teenage suicides associated with cyber bullying on Facebook, together with Facebook's apparent failure in some cases to remove harmful posts, has fuelled concern it is incapable of self-regulation.

View original article here

September 16, 2013:
'No blame' strategies work, but only vigilance beats the bullies

There has been plenty of discussion about bullying and, from statistics given, it is likely a child will be bullied at some stage at school.

Federal government research shows one in four schoolchildren are bullied. The Kids Helpline gets about 4000 requests a year for bullying-related counselling, mostly from students under 15.

A Centre for Adolescent Health survey found students who reported being victimised were three times more likely to be at risk of depressive symptoms than those who were not. Being bullied is also said to lead to suicidal thoughts.

So strong are the feelings around bullying that the first national Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium - held in Melbourne in July - pushed to make bullying and cyber-bullying offences.

Yet we are still hearing about tragic situations where a child has taken his or her life after feeling unable to cope with being bullied.

Finding out what a school does to address bullying can sometimes be a challenge, although individual schools are usually keen to inform parents about their bullying policy.

University of South Australia professor Ken Rigby says while the attention given to bullying is at record highs and its levels are unacceptable, there is evidence of a slight but significant decrease.

He says anti-bullying programs tend to consist of a variety of components, both proactive - such as in the classroom - and reactive - such as through the use of sanctions applied to the perpetrators.

Rigby says it is unclear which elements of a strategy have had a significant effect and that non-punitive methods, such as the ''method of shared concern'', are reported as being no less effective than the use of direct sanctions.

Riverside Girls High School, in Gladesville, adopted the ''no blame'' approach about 10 years ago and had instant success.

View original article here

August 24, 2013: Mandurah Mail
Australia ranked one in cyberbullying

IN A shock to parents, Australia has been ranked number one for bullying on social networks with one in four children bullied online, new figures show.

And more alarmingly is the fact 80 per cent of Australian children under 10 are now active on social networks.

Anti-bullying expert John Caldwell says the statistics are alarming and warns that parental monitoring may not be enough.

"Many parents monitor their children’s use of the internet but you simply can’t be everywhere, particularly if your child is going online via a mobile,” Mr Caldwell said.

"Kids are generally more tech-savvy than adults, and more capable of controlling technology and platforms than their parents via privacy settings and hiding browser history.

“It’s important to note too that while the most popular social platforms do require users to be at least 13-years-old, research shows close of half of teenagers who use networking sites admit to lying about their age.

"Kids are smart and if they don’t want you to know what they’re up to, generally, they’ll find a way.”

Mr Caldwell said the most recent ACMA report, Like Post Share, showed while parents were very aware of the need for cybersafety with older children, there was a significant gap in teaching kids under 10 how to protect themselves online. See your ad here

“ACMA reports the percentage of Australian eight- to nine-year olds who rate the internet as ‘very important’ in their lives has doubled since 2009,” Mr Caldwell said.

“Up to 35 per cent of eight to 11-year-olds have their own mobile phone, rising to 94 per cent of 16 to 17-year-olds.

"Children and young people are increasingly gaining access to the internet via their mobiles yet fewer eight to 11-year-olds have discussed cybersafety with their parents.”

View original article here

August 15, 2013:
Schools could be sued for cyber bullying: experts

The territory's schools could be sued if students become the victims of cyber bullying in Canberra playgrounds, academics say.

Two University of Canberra legal experts warned extending technology from the classroom to the playground - in the form of wireless internet access - meant cyber bullies could use school equipment to harass their victims.

Academics Amy Dwyer and Patricia Easteal said rates of bullying in Australian schools are among the world's highest, with half of students affected.

While only 15 per cent of students said they had experienced cyber bullying, that number was on the rise. Advertisement

In an academic article published last month, Ms Dwyer and Ms Easteal explored whether technology could expose schools to new challenges in protecting pupils from the rising menace of cyber bullying.

Their paper, Cyber Bullying in Australian Schools: The question of negligence and liability, applied existing laws to cyber bullying to discover if a school could be liable for the abuse.

Ms Dwyer and Ms Easteal found a school could be responsible if the cyber bullying occurred on school grounds, during school hours or

using school owned technology. The pair said the school could also be liable if the bullying occurred out of hours but in connection with a school-related activity, or had no policy to protect students.

"Many schools are now providing a technological learning environment; the new Harrison School in Gungahlin provides an 'iPad-ready playground' for its students, with wireless internet covering the school grounds," they wrote.

"If one student bullies another at recess or lunch using the school-owned server, it is possible the school will be held responsible for that cyber bullying given its need to supervise and protect - its duty of care."

View original article here

August 09, 2013:
Schools seek parents' help to fight cyber bullies by monitoring online activity

SCHOOLS have asked parents to spy on their children to limit the disturbing influence of controversial websites like, which has been linked to four teenage suicides overseas.

Students caught misbehaving on these sites face being disciplined by schools - including suspension - to try to crack down on cyber bullying.

Increasingly popular around the world, the question-and-answer service thrives on anonymity. The Latvian-based website, which launched in 2010, boasts about 60 million users worldwide and is growing by thousands every day.

But it faces a growing backlash after the recent death of British 14-year-old Hannah Smith, who reportedly suffered months of bullying on the website before committing suicide.

While most Australian schools have banned on their servers, they've also asked parents to keep an eye on the websites their children use at home.

"The vast majority of the cyber bullying happens out of school hours," said Susan Cameron, principal of Unley High School in Adelaide.

"(Students) tell us or their parents tell us (who is using websites anonymously).

"It becomes our business when it affects learning in our school."

Ms Cameron has suspended students who had been involved in online bullying on Facebook.

Others had been given final warnings because of their use of, she said.

Teachers have also looked into students' social media profiles if they have been warned about misbehaviour.

Jann Robinson, the principal of St Luke's Grammar School in Sydney, said students were encouraged to report their peers if they noticed any online bullying.

View original article here

July 28, 2013:
Unley High School students suspended for cyber-bullying, sparks warning about dangers of social media

PARENTS are being warned about the dangers of social media after students from one of Adelaide's most reputable public schools were suspended for cyber bullying.

Unley High School principal Susan Cameron told the Sunday Mail there had been a "serious incident" of cyber bullying at the school involving a "small number" of students.

"They were all suspended from three to five days and upon return to school one of the young people continued to behave inappropriately and was excluded from school (for two months)," she said.

Ms Cameron would not elaborate on the nature of the cyber-bullying.

But the incident prompted the school to warn parents in a July 4 newsletter about the dangers of an increasingly popular social networking site,

The site allows users to anonymously post questions and answers to a person's profile but is also being used by people to send abusive and sexualised content and bully others.

A number of children have reportedly suicided in the US and Europe after being bullied on the site.

"An investigation conducted at school has found that some students have used this forum to post inappropriate material or cyber bully anonymously," the Unley High newsletter said.

"The website is blocked on the school server therefore the inappropriate behaviour is occurring outside of schools hours."

Ms Cameron said the students suspended for cyber bullying were not using

The Advertiser reported yesterday that the State Government, with the help of experts including UniSA child protection emeritus professor Freda Briggs, will revamp curriculum to educate children about sexting, cyber bullying and online predators.

View original article here

July 19, 2013:
National approach needed to combat bullying, symposium hears

BULLYING should be a specific criminal offence and Australia needs to establish a national digital tribunal with powers to speedily remove offensive material from the internet.

This is what experts at a national bullying symposium are urging the Federal Government to do to combat bullying and cyber bullying.

The offence should carry a comparatively minor penalty to deal with more serious forms of abuse and to enhance existing laws, experts said.

Such penalties should not involve the jailing of children.

There is no specific law in Australia to combat bullying, with current laws differing between states.

The Federal Government should also support a biennial symposium of young people to continue to address the issue.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten told today's "Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium" that the digital age had extended bullying beyond the "boundaries of the school fence line".

"Bullying tortures the souls of our children at that most difficult time in their life when they are trying to assert their place in the world," Mr Shorten, an outspoken advocate of Brodie's Law against workplace bullying, said.

"(Now) it is quite possible to be bullied 24 hours a day."

Students from Keysborough College and Canterbury Girls' College advocated new bullying laws to help protect young people and for counselling for bullies to combat the issue.

Parents often didn't understand the internet or social media and felt uncomfortable raising issues of bullying as a result, the students told the symposium.

"Young people understand that cyberbullying is wrong but because there are no laws in place (to address the issue) many believe they can get away with it,'' one student said.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan said co-operation between the states and territories was vital in dealing with the distressing issue.

View original article here

July 18, 2013:
Bullying harm akin to that from sexual abuse, judge says

BULLYING is similar to sexual abuse in terms of the psychological damage it can cause young people, an ex-Supreme Court judge has told a bullying symposium.

There was no sanctuary from bullying for children these days, with cyber abuse reaching into their homes, Frank Vincent told the "Bullying, Young People and the Law" symposium" in Melbourne today.

"Bullying alters the way an individual responds to the world around them," Mr Vincent, a legal adviser for the parliamentary investigation into sex abuse, said.

"The guilt, shame and difficulties associated with this kind of behaviour are transferred to the victim.

"The consequences are remarkably similar (to sexual abuse)."

Specific nationalised laws against bullying and cyber bullying may be the answer to combating the distressing issue, the symposium heard, as experts agreed schools were not doing enough to address it. Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days

Former Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson said making bullying an offence would help young people understand the gravity of abusing their peers.

Current laws differed between states, providing little guidance about how bullying should be handled Mr Nicholson, also chair of the National Centre Against Bullying, said.

"Most people from my experience try to comply with the law ... and if the law says that type of conduct is not acceptable, there's a fair chance the majority of the community will accept it."

National Children's Commissioner Megan Mitchell agreed a specific law against bullying could help combat the issue, but said educating young people was crucial.

"You could promote a law and make it part of the educative process, which I think is the fundamental building block of doing something about this," she said.

But Queensland teacher and psychologist Marilyn Campbell told the symposium that laws would be an ineffective deterrent.

View original article here

July 15, 2013:
Two Melbourne men held in nationwide child-exploitation sting

Two Melbourne men -- one of whom is a federal employee at Patrick Air Force Base -- were charged as part of a nationwide child sexual exploitation crackdown in the past five weeks.

The operation targeted suspected child predators who use the Internet to entice and extort children. In all, 255 alleged child predators were arrested during the U.S.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and Internet Crimes Against Children operation. About 60 victims were identified. The operation ran May 28 to June 30 was dubbed "Operation iGuardian."

Two local arrests were:

Alan Ender, 57: Federal agents served a search warrant at Ender's Melbourne home, where officials said they found evidence he had "exploited at least two minors to produce child pornography."

Ender was indicted on June 10 and arraigned two days later on 10 counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession. HSI officials said Ender is a federal employee at Patrick.

Kevin Porter, 26: Facing two charges of possession and distribution of child pornography after being indicted by a federal grand jury. Porter lives in Melbourne.

"Our ultimate goal is to protect children in the digital age," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa, which oversees offices across central and northern Florida. "We need to talk to our children about the good and the bad of the Internet. We need to teach them how to protect themselves from online predators. If they are exploited online, they should report it. There are dedicated law enforcement officers and special agents who will do something about it."

Twenty-four of the victims who were identified during the operation were engaging strangers online. They ranged in age from younger than 4 to 17.

View original article here

July 13, 2013:
Radical plan to charge children as young as 10 with criminal offence for bullying

CHILDREN as young as 10 could be criminally charged as part of a radical proposal to overhaul Australia's approach to bullying.

A symposium organised by the National Centre Against Bullying (NCAB) and Australian Federal Police will next week consider how laws should be strengthened to fight bullying and cyberbullying.

It's hoped that, as a result of its recommendations, Australia will become the first country in the world to have national laws to address bullying.

NCAB chairman Alastair Nicholson, the former chief justice of the Family Court, said the law does not currently define bullying, cyberbullying or clarify the legal duty of schools, teachers, parents and carers. He said a summary offence for bullying with a maximum penalty of three months jail would help educate people and act as a deterrent.

"There is a real need to examine the way the law operates, if only so people know where they stand, what is against the law and what it isn't," he said.

View original article here

July 12, 2013:
Judge says generation gap causing issues with cyber bullyng

THE generation gap has left courts ill-equipped to deal with cyber bullying, a senior judge says.

And a top cop says parents must match their children's cyber skills to stay a step ahead of online predators.

A conference of law and education experts in Melbourne next week will be told judges and magistrates must be trained on technology to gain a better understanding of cyber bullying.

Judge Andrew Becroft, principal judge of the New Zealand Youth Court, said: "Cyber bullying is outside the experience of many in the justice system, some judges included.

"We have all been teenagers and have all witnessed bullying," he said.

"But growing up with different technology means many in the justice system have not been directly exposed to the pernicious nature of cyber bullying, and its potential to be spread worldwide.

"Technology is changing all the time and at a rate faster than our legislative capacity has kept up with."

Judge Becroft said he too had been ignorant of the problem.

"Most of us involved in youth justice are a generation removed from cyber bullying, and that's one of the challenges we face every day," he said.

"We must be trained to deal with the issues. We must do it. It is a non-negotiable part of our training."

The National Centre Against Bullying, Australian Federal Police and Victoria University's Sir Zelman Cowen Centre has organised the Bullying, Young People and the Law Symposium to help improve the safety of all Australians online.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner (operations) Michael Phelan, who will also speak at the two-day conference beginning on Thursday, urged parents to match their children's abilities online to ward off trolls and stalkers on social media.

View original article here

July 12, 2013:
Children out for revenge breaking the law and putting others at risk by posting nude images online

VENGEFUL Queensland children are being charged with producing child sex images that are being shared by pedophile networks around the world.

Taskforce Argos, set up to smash child sex rings, say the photographs are placing a burden on police who have to sift through hundreds of thousands of images each year to determine whether children can be identified and rescued. Police say the practice is not sexting and is more sinister.

Teen crush bust-ups and soured friendships are sparking some juveniles to send nude images of children to others or post them online. Some are setting up false social media accounts to send offending pictures.

More than 500 Queensland children under the age of 17 years have been charged in the past five years for producing or accessing child exploitation material. And it's not just a crime being committed by boys. Of the 542 charged, 147 were girls.

Taskforce Argos Detective Senior Sergeant Stephen Loth said police were generally not laying charges against youths who were sexting each other but were more likely to take action against young people who had coerced or forced others to take the indecent images. However, in the first instance, police do have the option to caution young people.

Det Sen-Sgt Loth the trend was adding an extra workload pressure on police.

He said young people who took indecent pictures of themselves and gave them to others needed to know that they would lose control of the images.

"Once they send it, the other person has control and use of the image and that person can sometimes share that image with a wider group of people to embarrass, shame or humiliate the other person,'' he said

"Your boyfriend/girlfriend this week may not be the same next week.

"There are potentially both legal consequences and social consequences.

"A boy and girl might exchange photographs. They have a falling out and then one of the party sends the images to someone else.

"The key is educating kids because some of their behaviour involves breaching criminal law.

"The decision to charge a juvenile is not done lightly.''

John Fison, general manager of Netbox Blue, which develops and sells technology that helps organisations manage social media, said children aged between 7 and 17 were at high risk of becoming victims of inappropriate online behaviour.

"This includes advances from predators, cyber bullying and addition to social media, gaming or media streaming, all of which will affect the mood of the child and their performance at school,'' Mr Fison said.

"There is a false sense of security from applications like Snapchat where children believe there is no risk of sharing private images.'' Snapchat allows photographs and video to be sent and viewed for only a short period of time.

View original article here

June 26, 2013:
How to tackle cyber-bullying

Bullying is most effective when it's kept secret and insidious, when those on the receiving end don't feel they can share with anyone what's going on. The internet can aid bullies because they can hide behind their phones and computers and abuse people from a distance. But it also means they leave a trail.

That might not mean it's easier to confide in friends, family or teachers, but the internet - and social media in particular - offers the chance to expose and combat bullying more quickly, more widely and more effectively than before.

It also offers the opportunity to gain support and help. Bullies are cowards - they'll only go on the attack when the odds are in their favour. There will always be more support for those suffering from bullying than those perpetrating it because bullying is an inherently negative and damaging act - even to the bullies themselves.

That's why tackling bullying in a dynamic and proactive way will be successful. It's an issue everyone can get behind because a world where bullying is acceptable suits no one.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance's writing competition is a brilliant way of shining a spotlight on bullying, and galvanising both children and adults to tackle bullying in the most effective way possible - with positivity, creativity and imagination.

View original article here

May 22, 2013:
Suffering in silence - kids won't report bullies

CHILDREN as young as eight are being cyber-bullied and many are refusing to tell their parents, new research shows.

About 25 per cent of children between eight and 12 say nasty comments have been made about them or a friend online. Cyber-bullying becomes an even bigger issue as children grow, with 53 per cent of teens 13-17 being exposed to online cruelty.

The research, released yesterday by security technology company McAfee, shows that while 71 per cent of tweens told their parents about the cyber-bullying, only 38 per cent of teenagers did so.

About 76 per cent of tweens said they continued to use the social networking site after seeing the nasty comments.

The Daily Telegraph is campaigning for social network sites to be more proactive in pursuing and banning bullies who use anonymous profiles. Digital Pass $1 for first 28 Days

The research Tweens, Teens And Technology is based on interviews with 500 children aged 8-12 across Australia, comparing their answers to a survey of 500 youths aged 13-17 and their parents to identify the online behaviour of tweens, teens and parents.

Alex Merton-McCann, who blogs for McAfee on family internet safety issues, said communication between parents and children was fundamental to creating a safe cyber environment.

The Wahroonga mother of four boys aged between nine and 16, said parents who discover their child is being cyber-bullied by someone they know from school should approach the school's principal.

If it's not a school friend and the behaviour continues, parents should change all email addresses and create new social media accounts for the child. If that doesn't stop the bully, go to the police, she said.

View original article here

May 22, 2013:
Teenagers have met with strangers who made contact with them via the internet

ALARMING numbers of teenagers have met with a stranger they made contact with online.

One in 20 teenagers who enjoy texts with strangers meet with them in person - sparking calls to prosecute adults who lie about their age to kids in cyberspace.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday said it was "troubling" that at least six per cent of teens have arranged face-to-face meetings with cyber strangers.

He released a survey showing that one in five "tweenagers" aged eight to 12 have chatted with strangers online, while 13 per cent do not know all their "Facebook friends".


One in four tweens had a social networking account - despite the Facebook ban on under-13s.

And one in five of the younger kids using Instagram were sending personal photos to strangers.

Senator Conroy described the findings as "troubling for parents".

He said the average 8 to 12-year-old was now using three or four internet-enabled devices.

"Risky online behaviour starts young," he said.


"One in five tweens have chatted to a stranger online (and) six per cent of teens have met up with a stranger.

"This information is troubling for any parent or carer and shows that we must remain vigilant to online threats."

A Senate committee is considering legislation that would make it a crime for adults to lie about their age to children online, with the intention of meeting them.

One in five New Zealand high school students have been cyber-bullied, according to research carried out by NetSafe in 2007.

View original article here

May 21, 2013:
Christchurch school slams cyber-bullies

A Christchurch high school has stood down four pupils after a picture of bullying was posted on Facebook.

The St Bede's College pupil, 14, was held over a bin by three pupils while a fourth photographed the incident and uploaded an image to the social media site.

The picture then circulated online before other pupils informed school staff and it was removed.

Martin Cocker, executive director of NetSafe, said the company was approached daily by individuals or New Zealand schools to remove offensive material from social media sites, particularly Facebook.

St Bede's College rector Justin Boyle said the victim at the school was not injured and was coping well.

The four year 10 pupils were stood down for three days, Boyle said, and had been warned that if they were caught bullying again the consequences would be more serious.

"Their behaviour hasn't come to my attention before this; that's why they were given a second chance . . . God willing, they're going to learn from it."

The incident happened in the last week of last term and came to light only through an anonymous "survey" the school periodically ran to give students the opportunity to report inappropriate behaviour.

In St Bede's latest newsletter, Boyle said the school was working hard to tackle the problem:

"[Cyber-bullying] is not peculiar to St Bede's and is widespread. If we ignore it, we do so at our own peril.

"I'd implore parents to keep an eye on how your son is using technology and if you have concerns you feel you cannot address, contact the college."

The incident comes amid a push for a law change to address cyber-bullying. Under government proposals, aimed at protecting victims of online bullying, cyber-bullies could be jailed for up to three years.

One in five New Zealand high school students have been cyber-bullied, according to research carried out by NetSafe in 2007.

View original article here

May 20, 2013:
Parents take extreme action on faceless bullying

THOUSANDS of anxious parents are hiring private investigators to track down anonymous bullies who terrorise and stalk their children on Facebook and other social networks.

Fed up with a lack of action from schools and police, parents are paying up to $800 a day to have cyber-security experts confront the bullies, in a desperate bid to protect their vulnerable kids.

One prominent private investigator said he received three calls a day from parents willing to do anything they could to stop the online taunts, the violent threats, and the intimidation that remains rife and unfettered on social networks.

And it's working.

When confronted by private investigators, shown the files highlighting their ugly behaviour, and threatened with police action, the vast majority of bullies cease their online abuse.

Today The Daily Telegraph launches a campaign to cramp the style of those bullies who gutlessly hide behind anonymous social network profiles in a bid to intimidate and bully victims online.

The campaign seeks to put pressure on social network sites to become more proactive in pursuing and banning bullies who use anonymous profiles.

It also aims to boost the resources and cyber-bullying expertise in police and education departments, and foster a working relationship between governments, schools and social network companies. And it will look at the wider impact of bullying on children and their families.

"The social networks are in the best position to track down these modern day bullies and I'd welcome any measures they take to address the problem," Premier Barry O'Farrell said of The Daily Telegraph's campaign.

"There is also a role for greater cooperation between police and the networks and for parents, teachers and friends to stay vigilant and report any examples of cyber bullying to authorities."

Former AFP investigator Jason King said the pursuit of Facebook bullies was now the mainstay of his private investigations operation, given the flood of inquiries he receives. "I get three calls a day about it, and the youngest I've had is about 11-12. And I take on 50 per cent of them," he said.

View original article here

May 20, 2013:
Cyber Security Awareness Week amabassador Leonie Smith says parents fail to see cyber dangers

LEONIE Smith is uneasy talking to parents about cyber safety.

Sometimes it's like talking to a wall; like what she says has no impact on their lives; like they've got their heads in the sand.

She wants to shake them.

"I'm shocked by the lack of awareness that parents have in regards to cyber security," she said. "Unfortunately with Facebook, a lot of people have a false sense of security and they aren't aware of how others use the internet, so they are basically putting their entire lives up there, and their kids' lives, without realising what could happen to them."

Dubbed "The Cyber Safety Lady", this Warriewood mum has dedicated her life to raising awareness of the importance of both children and parents understanding the security risks of the ever-expanding global online community.

Topping her hit list is bullying, a topic she understands after her 14-year-old was relentlessly cyber-stalked by a cunning 12-year-old from the US.

As the ambassador for national Cyber Security Awareness Week, beginning today, Ms Smith said parents needed to educate themselves on the risks and their parameters, realise their children could be targeted, and prepare themselves and their kids to respond adequately.

"This needs to be in parents' faces a lot more," she said. "We need a national campaign."

View original article here

May 11, 2013:
Star Wars Kid speaks up about cyberbullying

Almost a billion viewers have seen the amateur footage of 14-year-old Ghyslain Raza, mucking around TV studio in his Quebec high school. In it, an earnest-looking Raza awkwardly wields a pretend light sabre, imitating a Jedi knight from Star Wars.

The following year, one of his classmates posted the video on the Internet without his knowledge, spawning a massive cyberbullying attack when the footage went viral.

"What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide," the now-25-year-old tells Macleans.

After a decade of silence, Raza has granted an interview to a French-Canadian journalist, describing "a very dark period" during which he lost his few friends and changed schools.

"No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn't help but feel worthless, like my life wasn't worth living," he says.

View original article here

May 08, 2013:
Cyber bullying cases prompt call for new laws

EIGH SALES, PRESENTER: For parents of many young teenagers, dealing with the scourge of cyber-bullying has become an enormous problem.

The dramatic increase in social media use has been matched by a huge jump in online bullying, intimidation and abuse, which is leading some young internet users to depression and despair.

Tonight there are calls from a former head of the Family Court for new laws to deal with the problem because police are finding it's simply beyond their powers.

Tracy Bowden has this report.

TRACY BOWDEN, REPORTER: Zara Nasr idolises pop star Delta Goodrem and has even set up a fan account on the social media website Twitter which has more than 6,000 followers.

But this 13-year-old's passion has set off a prolonged hate campaign - bullying, name calling, even death threats, all via social media.

ZARA NASR: I woke up one morning and I checked my mentions and there was about 20 tweets from them saying that I wasn't a Delta Goodrem fan, I hadn't been there for 10 years, I was bandwagoner and that they hate me. And I was like, "OK". And it didn't initially strike me as something that could get so bad, so I just blocked it.

TRACY BOWDEN: But the abuse on Twitter got worse; much worse.

What sort of things were said?

ZARA NASR: I should kill myself because I'm not worth anything, that I was fat and I was ugly, and if I didn't kill myself, they would do it for me.

TRACY BOWDEN: For months Zara hid from her parents how terrible the abuse had become, but it was obvious that something was wrong. Her performance at school plummeted.

ZARA NASR: I just didn't want to see my friends, I didn't want to see anyone, I didn't want to go to school, I didn't want to leave my room because I was too scared.

TRACY BOWDEN: What were you scared of?

ZARA NASR: Because they were threatening me so much, I thought 'cause they'd tweeted me saying, "I know what school you go to," and they wrote my school name and I was scared that I would go to school one day and they would be standing at the gate.

Children should be able to socialise safely online with their friends. It should and can be an enjoyable experience if treated with care and understanding.

View original article here

April 16, 2013:

Most parents know or have heard about cyberbullying. It is the online form of physical bullying and every bit as dangerous. While the exact definition of cyberbullying is still a hotly debated issue with lawyers globally, it can be understood to be the repeated act of harassing another person using the internet with the intent of causing harm. Cyberbullying these days doesn't just occur with children, but with adults too as recent media reports have exposed.

For a lot of parents, cyberbullying is a bit difficult to grasp. When this generation of parents were growing up, the internet didn't exist and this form of torment wasn't even possible. Bullying was typically in person by one or more tormentors at school, and sadly it still happens too often today. When children are bullied physically at school it can be devastating and very difficult to deal with, for parents, for the child, and also for the school. But, as it is a physical thing, it is easier to comprehend and deal with than its online counterpart - cyberbullying. If physical bullying gets too bad, there is always the option of moving schools or homes - a last resort maybe, but an option nonetheless. In the case of cyberbullying, this is typically not an option. Sadly, there can appear to be no escape other than turning off the internet and unplugging your online social life - an option that can be socially devastating for children growing up in this connected age.

Studies in Australia(1) indicate that one out of every five children admit to being repeatedly bullied online, while similar studies in Canada, UK and USA put these figures at around 25-40% of children in those countries (one in every three children). There are many reasons why children bully others online, just as there are many reasons why it happens physically at school. Differently to physical bullying, cyberbullying is performed at home, at school, anywhere where there is access to the internet and a keyboard. It is all too easy to type a horrible, hurtful comment without being able to see the reaction. On the other side, the child being cyberbullied may not be physically hurt, but they are mentally abused which can be much worse and harder to deal with.

In the many cases of cyberbullying that have led to suicide, and the countless others that lead to mental scarring, isolation and depression, a common theme seems to be that parents are unaware of it. Most children tend to try to deal with cyberbullying by themselves, thinking that telling their parents or their school will just make things worse. Children can think that their parents may overreact by taking away their phone, computer or internet connection altogether, even further isolating them from their friends. They can tend to feel that their online world is theirs to manage, that it is their identity to protect and deal with - their online social life with their friends. Sadly though, cyberbullying can be very difficult to deal with and overcome, especially if you're a child coping daily, minute-by-minute with mental torment online. It can spiral out of control too easily.

For parents of younger children whose children aren't on the internet yet, it is necessary to start to learn about the internet and the risks it can pose to your children, both mentally and physically. For your children, they should begin to learn how to cope with situations that they may encounter, as well as the risks of online life, so that they can enjoy a safer online experience. For parents of children that use the internet regularly and may socialise online, it is critical to maintain an open line of communication with them about their friends, about their social life online and look out for signs of them being bullied which can include loss of appetite, sadness, depression, isolation, anger and increased desire for privacy. If your child is being cyberbullied, seek professional help. It may not physically hurt them, but it can be mentally devastating.

Children should be able to socialise safely online with their friends. It should and can be an enjoyable experience if treated with care and understanding.

View original article here

April 12, 2013: Geelong Advertiser
Victim's plea on cyber scourge

A CYBER-bullying victim has called on other teens to stand strong and report the abuse before it's too late.

Lloyd Kennedy saw his young friends take their own lives after being preyed on by online haters.

Mr Kennedy was 18 when he and his friends discovered they had been named on a social-media page that encouraged teens to anonymously post rumours about people's sexual partners alongside cruel descriptions of their performances and anatomy.

Then another page called "Kill Lloyd Kennedy" appeared.

The cancer survivor and now super-fit football umpire fought back, making public pleas in the Geelong Advertiser for the hatred to stop.

The offenders had since apologised, Mr Kennedy said. Related Coverage

"what a great guy and role model he should be given a medal for bravery for his valiant efforts " mrsm

But other teens have continued to post appalling rumours about their peers on newly made gossip pages.

Mr Kennedy, now 20, said he was willing to mentor other teenagers and their parents to help them overcome cyber bullies.

"I want to let everyone know that if you're being bullied don't be afraid to stand up," he said.

"This (bullying) can ruin people's lives.

"People have to realise this can't keep going on."

View original article here

April 04, 2013:
Anti-cyber bullying agency slammed as 'waste of money'

The Government's plan to set up an anti-cyber bullying agency has been branded a waste of public money by justice advocates.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust slammed the proposals announced today, calling them a "gross misuse of resources" and "a very poor use" of justice dollars.

The measures, unveiled by Justice Minister Judith Collins, attempt to target harmful online behaviour, and include powers to jail perpetrators for up to three years.

However, Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust said the $1.5 million being pumped into the initiative is "a gross misuse of resources" which could be spent elsewhere.

"There are many better uses for scarce justice dollars than a new bureaucratic structure," he said.

"The government's announcement that it will set up a new agency to police cyber bullying sounds like a very poor use of the dollars devoted to justice expenditure.

"There are many other things scarce taxpayer money could be spent on in this area, including providing the courts with adequate resources to get Judges' written judgments out and publicised."

He said the issue of cyber bullying should be dealt with inside the existing Ministry of Justice budget.

View original article here

March 26, 2013:
Australian schools 'facing psychological health crisis'

Australian schools need more psychologists to combat a crisis of cyber-bullying, self-harm and suicide attempt among students, experts say.

With one school psychologist for every 3,000 students in some states and territories, psychologists say students are not getting the mental health support they need.

Australian and overseas experts in school psychology are meeting in Melbourne today to discuss the issue.

Dr Monika Thielking, a researcher at Swinburne University and convenor of the Psychologists In Schools Interest Group, is speaking at the event.

Dr Thielking says Australian schools need more psychologists.

"We have ratios of anything between one to 500, right up to one psychologist to 3,000 students," she told ABC News Breakfast.

"It is really low. Mental health is real and it's an issue we should be taking seriously, and early intervention for children is important."

She says student issues range from cyber bulling to anxiety and depression.

"Cyber-bullying is huge," she said.

"We also have in some areas a real crisis around young people who are self-harming and suicide attempt as well.

"Particularly in remote areas of Australia there are children that aren't being given the types of mental health support that they need."

Dr Thielking is calling for action from the state and federal governments.

"We see a big need for psychologists in schools in Australia," she said.

"We know that students that are mentally healthy do better at school, and psychologists are there not only to diagnose problems, but to also assist parents and teachers themselves in creating a positive school environment.

View original article here

March 24, 2013: Illawarra Mercury
Cyber-bullying not restricted to youth

A recent report commissioned by the Australian Media Authority found that one in five 14-15 year olds have experienced bullying over the internet.

With the rise in use of the internet and social websites such as Facebook and Twitter, this report showed that these young people are also increasingly engaging in risky behaviour that may not otherwise be available to them, such as ''friending'' strangers and talking with people they have never met.

Under the veil of anonymity, people are increasingly using the internet to bully, scam and intimidate others.

Gossip, personal information and rumours can be spread with the click of a button and with seemingly little consequence for the perpetrator.

Many believe this type of behaviour is only really a concern for teenagers. However, social media sites are having ever increasing consequences for adults as well.

A recent study by the internet security company AVG found eight per cent of Australian workers felt information found via the internet had been used against them, or a colleague, in the workplace.

View original article here

March 03, 2013:
Survey finds cyber bullying patterns in Perth high schoolers

TEENAGERS developing problem behaviour, depression or low self esteem in high school are more likely to engage in or be victims of cyber bullying by the time they reach year 11, a Murdoch University study has found.

Researchers at Murdoch's School of Psychology surveyed 1,364 year 8 students from 39 WA high schools using questionnaires to assess their self esteem, mood and involvement in problem behaviour over three years.

In year 11, participants were asked how often they had used the internet to "tell lies or make fun of" other students, or how often anyone had done it to them.

The study found students whose problem behaviour increased or self esteem decreased between years 8-11 were much more likely to become victims or perpetrators of cyber bullying, with steeper changes predicting more intense bullying.

Increases in depressed mood appeared to have no effect on the likelihood of cyber bullying. However, those more depressed in year 8 were at greater risk regardless, as was also the case for the other indicators, because they stand out early as easy targets for bullies.

Murdoch psychology lecturer Kathryn Modecki says the study is the first to measure the rate of changes in key cyber bullying predictors by tracking the development of participants over time, which the research indicates gives the best projection of the likelihood and intensity of both victimisation and perpetration.

"It's not just about taking a snapshot, you need to see the developmental growth and how it relates to later behaviour," Dr Modecki says.

She says the results also indicate cyber bullying levels the playing field by allowing teenagers less capacity for traditional bullying - those who are not as confident or physically strong - to attack from behind their computer screens, even anonymously, including victims retaliating against their schoolyard tormentors.

It also means students can be sidelined by shifting alliances within their social group as their peers spend more time interacting with each other online.

The study found a moderate correlation between perpetrators and victims, showing that while the two constructs are distinct, cyber bullying increases overlap and is caused by the same precursors.

She says intervention strategies need to target these underlying causes to fend off the development of multi-finality situations where bullying becomes overwhelmingly likely.

"People try to reinvent the wheel but I would prefer to see known and proven strategies against problem behaviour, depression and low self-esteem used because I haven't seen a consistently effective strategy against cyber bullying itself."

View original article here

February 26, 2013:
New internet law to target online prowlers

ONLINE predators who lie about their age and ask to meet children will be law breakers under a proposed new law.

It has been named "Carly's law" in memory of Carly Ryan who in 2007 was lured to a meeting with a 47-year-old man who had claimed he was 20, and murdered.

And it would acknowledge in law that there was no good reason for grown-ups to pretend to be someone else to minors they meet on the internet.

Giving a false age in online chats and arranging a meeting with a youngster would be illegal under the proposed law.

"The flaw in our current predator laws is that you need to show intent for a sexual purpose in terms of meeting someone," the sponsor of the legislation, independent Senator Nick Xenophon, told today.

"At the moment, simply lying about your age and wanting to meet somebody for a seemingly innocent purpose, or a non-prurient purpose, is something that is not caught in the legislation.

"I'm hoping that this will resonate and show our online laws dealing with predators are clearly outdated. We've got to keep up with the way these predators operate."

Senator Xenophon said the crime would carry a lesser sentence than if the meeting was clearly for sexual purposes. It would be a "safety net'' to prevent dangerous meetings occurring.

"But if that makes predators think twice about lying about their age and wanting to meet a child then that would just make it more difficult for them to ply their evil behaviour," he said before introducing the Bill to Parliament.

The proposed law will be studied by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

It is being backed by Carly's mother Sonya Ryan who was was nominated as South Australia's Australian of the Year this year for her work in raising awareness of internet safety among young people.

View original article here

February 25, 2013:
Five teens injured in open-invite Facebook party

Five teenagers were treated for alcohol-related injuries when an open-invite party promoted on Facebook drew more than 1000 people to a memorial hall on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.

Paramedics even had to set up a triage outside the party to deal with the steady flow of intoxicated teens, at least some of whom were underage, Nine News reports.

Now the host of the party, Yohans "YoYo" Shol, is being investigated by police for possibly breaking the law by hosting an underage event.

Ambulance crews were called to the party, dubbed "YoYo's Round 2: Bigger and better", at Tamborine Memorial Hall, Mount Tamborine, to treat five individuals for separate injuries, two whom were just 14 years old, Nine News reports.

"One girl jumped off a staircase and knocked herself out," one witness told Nine News.

But Mr Shol, 18, said he legally rented the hall and hired security for the event.

"I've thrown, like, a couple of parties and I've been doing this for a bit so I'm a bit experienced. I'm young but I'm experienced," Mr Shol said.

He spoke to Nine News the morning after outside the venue, where there was evidence of damage to the hall's walls and windows, and bottles covered the lawn outside.

Police allege security was not sufficient and several fights broke out throughout the night.

As well, buses and private transport were used to transport party-goers to the venue but there was inadequate transport to take guests off the mountain when it was time to leave, the Courier-Mail reports.

Police monitored the situation until buses were organised to transport partygoers away from the scene.

Just two weeks earlier, police intervened to shut down "YoYo's Round 1".

"I might just have a round three, we'll see what happens," Mr Shol said.

View original article here

February 26, 2013:
Students slam cyber bullying

THE scourge of cyber bullying and its sometimes tragic consequences is being tackled by a group of Catholic high school students determined to take a stand.

''Disconnect and become more connecte'' is the message behind Pius Unplugged, a 48-hour social media blackout campaign devised by the students and teachers of St Pius X High School in Adamstown.

As well as raising awareness of the insidious and prolific nature of cyberbullying, Pius Unplugged will raise money for Kids Helpline which has developed a number of resources to address the issue.

Leading the charge is part-time teacher Elisa Hart, who hopes the campaign will encourage a positive dialogue between teachers, students and parents about cyber bullying.

''Raising awareness about cyber bullying, as well as Kids Helpline, could perhaps change the mindset of our our students and instil in them a greater understanding of the impact of their choices on others,'' she said.

The campaign will be launched on March 8, and will run from midnight on March 25 to midnight on March 27.

As well as remaining offline for 48 hours, participating students will take a pledge, vowing to be more supportive and positive when accessing social media.

''We are trying to get the kids to understand that their actions in cyberspace affect other people in more ways than they realise,'' Ms Hart said.

Research suggests that between 7 and 10per cent of year 4 to year 9 students have been cyber bullied over the duration of a school term.

One in five Australian teenagers aged 12 to 17 received hateful messages via their mobile phone or through an internet-based medium during a school year, research shows.

''The meeting did occur as the board does often speak to members of the school family, be it students, parents or teachers past or present, and there was a discussion which led to a number of outcomes which are yet to be finalised,'' Dr Miller said.

The Facebook site was launched on February 5 and Dr Miller invited those posting comments on the Revitalising NGS site to direct their feedback to him and the board instead. The site was de-activated less than 48 hours later.

As well as positive comments and support for a revitalisation process to occur, there were allegations that a culture of bullying existed at the school, claims denied by school principal Alan Green.

Dr Miller said the allegations were being taken seriously by the board, which was looking into the issues raised and he hoped to have concrete outcomes in the near future.

AN Australian mental health media initiative started in the Hunter will today co-host a national roundtable on the impact of social media on suicide prevention.

More than 50 representatives from Australia's leading youth, mental health, media and technology providers will meet in Melbourne.

View original article here

February 24, 2013:
Cyber-bullying blamed for death

Sudden loss of girl saddens community

Distraught teenagers have linked cyber-bullying to the sudden death of a teenage girl last week.

Stephanie Garrett, 15, had attended Palmerston North's Freyberg High School for only two weeks when she was found dead.

Several friends told the Herald on Sunday, on condition of anonymity, that Steph had been bullied in the days before her death.

One Manawatu-based anti-bullying group posted on Facebook: "At the end of the day another young life taken as the result of bullying."

Another concerned person, Toni Ferris, wrote: "Just learned this was the result of yet more bullying, she had so much to live for. RIP Steph."

A spokesman for the Palmerston North police confirmed they were called to an address in the city last Sunday night where the body of a 16-year-old was found.

Police were not prepared to comment on the cause of her death but said it had been referred to the coroner. Her mother, Tania Garrett, thanked on Facebook those who attended a funeral for the popular cheerleader on Thursday.

"Thank you for all coming to say goodbye to Steph. A huge thanks to the boys' haka; it was an amazing tribute for my baby girl.

Please all of you going out to the memorial ... be safe and care for each other."

She did not wish to speak about her daughter's death.

However, a friend of Garrett's, who did not want to be named, said she had cried herself to sleep in recent days after more cyber bullying.

The teenager said people on the Ask.FM social networking site had called her "fat".

"Someone is anonymously posting things to me asking me why am I so fat. It made me feel like s*** that someone is purposely trying to hurt my feelings."

Freyberg High School principal Peter Brooks wrote to parents to reassure them this week.

"This is an incredibly distressing time for her family and friends and it is hard for all of us, both adults and students to come to terms with. Different people will react in a range of different ways and we must all look out for each other at this time."

Fellow students described Garrett as "loud, bubbly and overly enthusiastic, with so much to live for".

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor said there were several agencies available for young people at risk.

"My message to them would be go and talk to someone."

According to the annual suicide statistics released last year, there has been a significant rise in the 15 to 19 age group.

View original article here

February 24, 2013:
Don't give cyber punks a free pass

Hackers constantly think up new and creative ways to break into people's online banking, email and Facebook accounts, but their latest scams are usually based on the same old tricks. Sometimes they'll use high-tech hacks to break into a website and steal passwords, or sneak malicious software onto your computer to spy on you. But often it's easier to bluff their way past security or to simply trick you into handing over important information.

A healthy paranoia is one of your best defences. Never trust emails or phone calls claiming to be from your bank or phone company, especially if they request personal information. Remember, they contacted you - they could be anyone. Also avoid clicking links in emails to visit their sites, as it could be a bogus site designed to steal your password. It's safer to type in the address yourself.

Another important security precaution is to create strong passwords. Use more than eight characters with a mix of upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and symbols. Avoid dictionary words and simple number substitutions such as ''p4ssw0rd". Hackers are awake to such tricks.

A password needs to be easy to remember, but using ''123456'' or ''qwertyuiop'' is asking for trouble and most services won't let you use them. Don't use your birthday, or the names of your pets or children. Hackers know they're popular passwords and such details are often easy to find online, perhaps from your Facebook page. Advertisement

The trick to creating a strong password is to choose something that looks like gibberish but isn't hard for you to remember. One handy method is to use the first letters of a phrase or lyric. For example, the first lines of Advance Australia Fair could become ''AaLuR-fWaYaF*1788'' - easy for you to remember but difficult for a person to guess or a computer to crack.

It's also important to choose difficult security questions, which are used if you forget your password and need to reset it. Hacking into your email and then resetting your other passwords is a common trick used to break into Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon accounts. Your mother's maiden name or the name of your primary school are poor choices because such information can often be found online.

It's best to make up your own security questions if possible, or to use difficult questions that can't be easily guessed or found online. For an extra layer of security, you might send your password reset details to a separate email address, making it harder for hackers to access them.

A strong password is a great first line of defence, but don't use the same password for everything. The more sensitive the service, such as your online banking, the more important it is to use a unique password.

To make life easier you might devise a pattern for remembering your various passwords, such as using different lines from the same song. Or you might break your passwords into several parts, using a base password along with a unique suffix. Whatever pattern you use, make sure it's not so obvious that if someone discovers one password they can easily guess the others. If you're still struggling to remember your passwords, consider password-locker services such as Lastpass and 1Password, which can generate strong passwords for you.

Many online services use your email address as your login, which makes life easier for hackers because they now have the first piece of the puzzle. For an extra layer of protection, consider creating unique logins or email addresses for your different services. Many email services let you create aliases such as and, which can forward to your main inbox. This trick ensures hackers can't break into Bob's Apple account using, even if they know his password.

Two-factor authentication is another security precaution that can foil hackers.

It relies on something you know, such as your password, and something you have, such as a key chain that generates seemingly random numbers. Key chains are used by some online banking services.

But that something you have could also be your mobile phone.

If you enable Google and Facebook's two-factor authentication, when you try to log in from a new device for the first time you're also required to enter a code that is sent to your phone via SMS.

Facebook calls two-factor authentication ''login approvals''. Once you've entered the code, it's possible to tick ''remember this device'' so you don't need to go through this process every time you log in using your own computer. The beauty of two-factor authentication is that even if hackers know your login and password, they still can't break into your accounts unless they have your phone.

Even two-factor authentication isn't a magic bullet for online security, but if you take a few simple precautions you can make things much harder for those trying to hack into your digital life.

View original article here

February 19, 2013:
The Many Ways Kids Cyber Bully

Kids often feel anonymous and more powerful when they're online, causing them to say and do things they never would in real life. A cyber bully is particularly dangerous because they can transfer their message with more anonymity than face-to-face communication , providing them a sense of protection as the aggressor.

The playground bully has evolved into the online bully, or "cyber bully," hiding behind a computer screen or mobile phone. Cyber bullying is known as "indirect" bullying - using name calling or deliberate exclusion to hurt others rather than kicks and punches. Stats show that 42% of kids have been a victim of cyber bullying, and one in four has had it happen more than once. Here are some things a cyber bully may do:

Send harassing emails or instant messages to a target.
Post embarrassing photos of a target.
Spread rumours through email, instant messaging, or postings on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook.
Post defamatory messages on online message boards or social networking sites.
Steal a person's identity and post menacing messages in their name on social networking sites or blogs.
Be a mix of both a playground bully and a cyber bully.
Build an entire website that targets another student or teacher.

Cyber bullying is a whole school community issue. Schools do have an obligation to provide a safe social and emotional environment for their students. Parents also have an obligation, to set rules and expectations with their children around their internet use and behaviour.

View original article here

February 16, 2013:
Cyberbullying: Nowhere to hide

With the Internet, social media and texting on cellphones, there is nowhere a child or teenager can go to get away from the torment of cyberbullying.

"There is no safe place with cyberbullying," said Michael Kaibel, violence prevention specialist with Hands and Words are Not for Hurting. "In the old generation I only had to worry about it at school. At home was safe." That's not the case anymore. "It's very stressful," he said. "At that age their whole world has gone downhill and they just don't know what to do." School resource officers in both city and county schools say they see more cyberbullying than old-fashioned face-to-face bullying. lamath Falls Police Department school resource officer at city schools, said she could think of a recent example where a young lady, whom Reichlin described as emotionally fragile with low opinions of herself and a likelihood to attempt suicide, had been cyberbullied. "A report came across my desk that had 10 full pages from a social networking site where not one person had put who they were, but anonymously said to her, 'You're a waste of life, you're a waste of air, why don't you kill yourself already, do yourself a favor, you're ugly, you're fat, nobody likes you, your friends aren't really your friends,' " Reichlin said. "Ten pages of anonymous posts. And we wonder why our kids are depressed. And we wonder why they have low self esteem. And we wonder why they're making attempts on their lives." Just last week, Klamath County deputy Mel Ray, the school resource officer at the Henley school complex, said a student came to him saying she had received threatening text messages.

View original article here

Janurary 31, 2013:
Police search for four men linked to Kensington Facebook kidnapping

The victim, aged in his 20s, drove to Parsons St, Kensington, about 10.30pm on January 22 to meet a female he believed he befriended on Facebook.

When he arrived, four men grabbed and assaulted the victim and drove him away in his car.

One of the four offenders drove a silver 2010 Ford Falcon sedan.

The victim was taken to his home in Glenroy where he was again assaulted and three of the offenders went inside and stole a number of phones.

He was then taken to an ATM, believed to be near Springvale, and was asked to withdraw money but did not have any funds available.

The offenders took him to Hillside St, Springvale, where he was further assaulted and more demands for money made.

The victim was released with his car about five hours later.

The offenders were described as of Indian appearance and aged in their 20s or 30s.

Police believe the Facebook account was set up to lure the victim.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers by phoning 1800 333 000.

View original article here

Janurary 30, 2013:
Anti-cyber-bullying tool creator inks deals with hardware giants

ProtectaChild, an Australian company that has built software which helps parents protect their children from cyber-bullying and online predators, has signed agreements with hardware giants Acer and Lenovo to help build sales of the tool.

Launched in mid-2012, the ProtectaChild tool - purchased online for $15 per month - enables parents to monitor their children's online activity on social networking sites Bebo, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. It provides alerts when their children are followed by adults or become friends with someone who has no other friends in common.

Speaking to CIO Australia, company founder Jason Edwards said the company didn'T get the response it expected from television advertising campaigns last year, prompting a plan to promote the tool through third-parties. ProtectaChild was also featured on popular current affairs program Today Tonight last September.

Edwards declined to reveal how many customers have purchased the ProtectaChild tool since it was launched last year.

Under a new global agreement with Lenovo, the ProtectaChild software will be available from a Lenovo-branded store within the Windows 8 App Store from the second week of February. It will cost $9.95 per month for a licence to protect five children.

Terence Ng, senior business development manager at Lenovo, said people who have purchased a Lenovo computer running the Windows 8 operating system will be able to download the tool.

Meanwhile, Acer will send emails to 500,000 customers this week promoting ProtectaChild, free for three months under a 12 month plan. A second email campaign will be sent out next week to all 10,000 schools across Australia, offering the tool for $9.95 per month for 12 months.

Derek Walker, national education sales manager at Acer, said: "Our devices are out there in the hands of school students, we hear there's a lot of cyber-bullying going on and want to protect school students against that."

Walker said ProtectaChild's "Crowd support feature", which enables parents in a small community to identify a person as a known person in their children's social networks, was unique.

Members Alliance Education Foundation - which provides a suite of online learning programs and planning and reporting packages for teachers - will provide parents and children with access to ProtectaChild. The non-profit organisation is trialling its new online services with 30 schools across Australia during the first and second school terms of 2013.

The agreements come just two weeks after Julia Gillard announced new government guidelines for handling complaints on social media to help stop cyber-bulling in Australia.

Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Yahoo and Microsoft signed a co-operative arrangement for complaints handling on social networking sites. Twitter is yet to jump on board.

Online bullying is becoming more prevalent and sadly, some young people living in Australia have taken their own lives. In January last year, 14-year-old Melbourne schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan committed suicide after suffering cyber bullying.

View original article here

Janurary 19, 2013:
Cyberbullies use bogus Facebook pages to target victims

Shocking accusations on Facebook are outraging students, parents and school officials.

A friend recently informed a 16-year-old Victoria student, who asked to remain unnamed to prevent further bullying, about the malicious posts made about her on a Facebook page.

The attackers accused her of having sex with a relative.

"I was shocked because I didn't know about it," the student said. "I was like, 'Really, you took the time out of your day to do this?'"

But she wasn't the only one being "slammed" on Facebook. A slew of other female classmates were being accused of having sexually transmitted diseases because they slept around.

Her Facebook cyberbullying ordeal is among the first to surface in Victoria. The new form of bullying is conducted though multiple Facebook tags on pages and individual accounts, similar to burn books of old. Essentially, people are creating bogus Facebook pages for the purpose of bullying others and keeping their identities unknown. After the page is removed, the bullies return under a new profile and resume harassing their victims.

"These profiles should be shut down," the student said. "Most girls have been seriously affected by this stuff."

A recent study presented at the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics conference identified 41 suicide cases - 24 girls, 17 boys, between the ages 13 to 18 - related to cyberbullying from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

View original article here

Janurary 18, 2013:
Anti Bullying Week 2013

Each year there is a week specifically designated as 'Anti Bullying Week' and in 2013 the week is in November. Whilst, of course, every week needs to be anti bullying it is still good to designate a co-ordinated anti bullying week when organisations - schools, youth groups, parent bodies and students - can put a specific focus and create activities to reinforce the message that bullying is not acceptable.

Here is Australia we also have a National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence which, this year, is on Friday 15th March 2013. The government website has grea information for parents, students and teachers as well as all the up to date news.

The day is about students, parents, teachers and school communities working together to create positive school environments free from bullying, harassment and violence.

Schools across Australia are encouraged to register to be part of the National Day and to 'Take a Stand Together'.

Schools can participate by organising local events and activities to mark the National Day.

By registering to be part of the day, your school will help to unify the many anti-bullying activities happening in schools across the country.

Register now to list your school as one of the Australian schools 'Taking a Stand Together' on the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence in 2013.

Schools that register will receive news and events information, resources and tips on activities for the day and free promotional material for students!

Register your school today to be part of the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence for 2013. Get in early and get ready for Friday 15 March, 2013

View original article here

Janurary 17, 2013:
Labor's backflip on cyber safety a net gain for kids

On Wednesday, Life Education Australia, in conjunction with the online security company McAfee, introduced a cyber safety program into its primary school curriculum. Schoolchildren who already may be familiar with Life Education's mascot, Harold the giraffe, will now work closely with him online in this program, to be rolled out in 3200 schools across Australia.

In somewhat of a turnaround for the Labor Party, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, launched the program in north-western Sydney. Until recently, her party wanted to censor the internet, much like China does. This is a welcome change in position and signifies the importance of teaching young people how to interact safely and ethically online. Ms Gillard is one of a few national leaders who has taken such a hands-on approach to online interaction involving children.

In the US, the President, Barack Obama, issued the Cyberspace Policy Review in 2009; a further sign that governments need to help set standards for young internet users.

Cyber safety is an increasingly important issue in our schools and homes. Since the introduction of networked computers in Australia in the early 1990s, there has been a rapid rise in computer use. In 2011, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, household access to the internet where there were children 15 years old or younger was 93 per cent. Advertisement

Figures on smartphones and tablets are a little more difficult to get but these numbers are rising and children are getting smartphones and tablets at an earlier age.

Schools are also increasingly turning to networked technologies to support learning. Many schools have computer rooms, or have issued students with their own laptops. Tablets are now the latest trend, connected to schools via Wi-Fi networks. Some schools are also encouraging students to bring their own devices. While there have been some excellent resources produced, such as those on the government's Cybersmart website, cyber safety has not featured prominently in schools until now.

There are several areas where young people can get into trouble online. Accessing content that is inappropriate and illegal is the most pressing danger.

There is also the issue of cyberbullying or cyberstalking. What happens with personal information provided online is also a concern. These issues highlight the fact that young people are provided with sophisticated technologies that they do not always know how to use appropriately.

Cyberbullying is an issue that receives much press coverage. While this is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, the chances of young people being bullied online are much less likely than their face-to-face risks. The types of networks young people have offline closely resemble those online.

This link between online and offline networks has positives and negatives. One of the positives is that the chance of contact from a stranger is reduced. The person stands out and gets noticed by the group. One of the negatives is that if there is a problem offline, this can migrate to the online world. As in the real world, the best way for young people to deal with bullies is to cut off contact with the offending person. This can sometimes be difficult if the bully is part of ''the group'' and someone the child sees regularly in a face-to-face setting.

Young people are very much plugged into their interactive technologies; they are part of their day-to-day living experiences. The benefits of these technologies outweigh the potential dangers, which is sometimes lost in the discussion. Young people can now keep in contact easily with their parents and other relatives, thanks to technology. If a young person has grandparents who live interstate or overseas, it is now easy to keep in contact via a video-conferencing tool such as Skype. Information and records can be easily accessible on smartphones and the number of educational apps is growing rapidly.

The role parents play in ensuring their children are safe online is as important as it is in the ''real world''. Parents need to have the technical capabilities to ensure they understand and take responsibility for what their children are doing on their computers. Know what your children are doing online is the best advice. Of course, young people should be given a voice in this debate; their experiences should help to shape policies and programs.

Given young people's use of networked technologies, helping them interact safely is now an important aspect of the school curriculum. Having the support of the Prime Minster will help to keep a focus on this.

View original article here

Janurary 02, 2013:
How to avoid cyber-bullying and keep your children safe online

WITH plenty of hot days forecast for the summer holidays, children will almost certainly venture inside for some respite.

But before they log onto the internet, take a moment to think how you can bully-proof your family computer and keep children safe from harm online.

Here are some helpful tips to bully-proof your brood:

- Do not respond to messages when you are angry or hurt. This will often encourage bullies to continue or increase their harassment of you
- Log out and stop messaging if you feel you are being harassed
- Remember you have the option to block, delete and report anyone who is harassing you online or on your mobile
- Find out how to report bullying and harassment on each of the different social networks you use
- Keep a record of calls, messages, posts and emails that may be hurtful or harmful.
- Remember to set up the privacy options on your social networking sites like Facebook in a way you are comfortable with. Children under the age of 13 are also prevented from using Facebook to ensure this rule is adhered to.

View original article here

December 02, 2012:
Teens React to Chilling Cyberbullying Video

The Fine Brothers interviewed teenagers during and after they had watched Amanda Todd's final video which she posted on Youtube not long before she took her own life.

It is both deeply sad yet heartening to hear what they have to say, and worrisome that they feel so helpless.

"They all felt so completely alone in this fight and struggle against this huge problem, and felt with the advent of Internet, laptops and smartphones, you can never escape being bullied anymore," Benny Fine tells Mashable.

Another teachable moment.

View original article here

November 27, 2012: The New Zealand Herald
Test urged before kids use phones at school

A visiting cyber-bullying expert is urging New Zealand schools to make students take driver licence-style tests before they can take mobile phones and tablets to class.

Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, a founding member of Australia's National Centre Against Bullying, issued the challenge yesterday in a speech to a Wellington conference hosted by NetSafe.

Dr Carr-Gregg has already called upon Queensland and New South Wales to adopt the tests, which students would sit at home with parents before they could bring cellphones to school.

New Zealand's education structure means it would be up to individual schools to take up the idea, but NetSafe and the president of a principals' group have cast doubt over its effectiveness.

The tests, which could be downloaded from a central website, would sit alongside an acceptable use policy, "so if you've broken the rules that you've signed on for, you can have your licence suspended", Dr Carr-Gregg told the Herald.

Digital technology came with many hazards, ranging from "sexting" and cyber-bullying to internet fraud and copyright breaches.

At least one in five New Zealand high school students have reported being victims of cyber bullying.

"I argue that these devices are not dissimilar to cars, and all students need to reach a certain level of proficiency, as they would [with] a motorvehicle, to avoid accidents and trouble with law.

"There is actually no difference on the information super highway - and we've got lot of people who stuff up on a regular basis."

Such tests would not be mandatory and would need to be trialled in schools, he said.

"We can't sit around waiting for a magic bullet - these are our kids, our communities, our challenges - and we have to do something different."

As use of the internet grew so, too, did the risks that came with it, he said.

"What we need is a more enlightened view. The licence will teach kids to use the internet in a safe, smart and respectable manner."

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker said the idea had merit but would need "a bit of work" to achieve its goals.

"Our initial reaction is that as an educative step, there's value in it - but of course if the price of failure was that students weren't able to access the technology, it would sort of be self-defeating."

New Zealand Principals' Federation president Paul Drummond said many schools openly encouraged students to bring devices to school, and had varying policies on usage.

"In primary schools in particular that's often accompanied with parent and teacher support and signatures, so there's a collective understanding around using the technology ethically," he said.

"That's where I think it lies - and I don't know about a test being able to measure someone's integrity or values around using technology properly."

View original article here

November 19, 2012:
Online rants land Facebook and Twitter users in legal trouble

One teenager made offensive comments about a murdered child on Twitter. Another young man wrote on Facebook that British soldiers should "go to hell". A third posted a picture of a burning paper poppy, symbol of remembrance of war dead.

All were arrested, two convicted, and one jailed - and they're not the only ones. In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand.

Lawyers say the mounting tally shows the problems of a legal system trying to regulate 21st century communications with 20th century laws. Civil libertarians say it is a threat to free speech in an age when the internet gives everyone the power to be heard around the world.

"Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people," said Mike Harris of the free-speech group Index on Censorship. "Now someone posts a picture of a burning poppy on Facebook and potentially hundreds of thousands of people can see it. Advertisement

"People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you've got the criminalisation of offensive speech."

Figures obtained by the Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications - phone calls, emails and social media posts - that are "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character - from 1263 in 2009 to 1843 in 2011. The number of convictions grew from 873 in 2009 to 1286 last year.

Behind the figures are people - mostly young, many teenagers - who find that a glib online remark can have life-altering consequences.

No one knows this better than Paul Chambers, who in January 2010, worried that snow would stop him catching a flight to visit his girlfriend, tweeted: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your (expletive) together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high."

A week later, anti-terrorist police showed up at the office where he worked as a financial supervisor.

Chambers was arrested, questioned for eight hours, charged, tried, convicted and fined. He lost his job, amassed thousands of pounds in legal costs and was, he says, "essentially unemployable" because of his criminal record.

But Chambers, now 28, was lucky. His case garnered attention online, generating its own hashtag - #twitterjoketrial - and bringing high-profile Twitter users, including the actor and comedian Stephen Fry, to his defence.

In July, two and half years after Chambers' arrest, the High Court overturned his conviction. In his judgment, Justice Igor Judge said the law should not prevent "satirical or iconoclastic or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humour, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it."

But the cases are coming thick and fast. Last month, 19-year-old Matthew Woods was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail for making offensive tweets about a missing five-year-old girl, April Jones.

The same month Azhar Ahmed, 20, was sentenced to 240 hours of community service for writing on Facebook that soldiers "should die and go to hell" after six British troops were killed in Afghanistan. Ahmed had quickly deleted the post, which he said was written in anger, but was convicted anyway.

Last Sunday, Remembrance Day, a 19-year-old man was arrested in southern England after police received a complaint about a photo on Facebook showing the burning of a paper poppy. He was held for 24 hours before being released on bail and could face charges.

For civil libertarians, this was the most painfully ironic arrest of all. Poppies are traditionally worn to commemorate the sacrifice of those who died for Britain and its freedoms. "What was the point of winning either World War if, in 2012, someone can be casually arrested by Kent Police for burning a poppy?" tweeted David Allen Green, a lawyer with the London firm Preiskel who worked on the Paul Chambers case.

Critics of the existing laws say they are both inadequate and inconsistent.

Many of the charges come under a section of the 2003 Electronic Communications Act, an update of a 1930s statute intended to protect telephone operators from harassment. The law was drafted before Facebook and Twitter were born, and some lawyers say is not suited to policing social media, where users often have little control over who reads their words.

It and related laws were intended to deal with hate mail or menacing phone calls to individuals, but they are being used to prosecute in cases where there seems to be no individual victim - and often no direct threat.

And the internet is so vast that policing it - even if desirable - is a hit-and-miss affair. For every offensive remark that draws attention, hundreds are ignored. Conversely, comments that people thought were made only to their Facebook friends or Twitter followers can flash around the world.

While the US Supreme Court has ruled that First Amendment protections of freedom of speech apply to the internet, restrictions on online expression in other Western democracies vary widely.

In Germany, where it is an offence to deny the Holocaust, a neo-Nazi group has had its Twitter account blocked. Twitter has said it could also agree to block content in other countries at the request of their authorities.

There's no doubt many people in Britain have felt genuinely offended or even threatened by online messages. The Sun tabloid has launched a campaign calling for tougher penalties for online "trolls" who bully people on the web. But others in a country with a cherished image as a bastion of free speech are sensitive to signs of a clampdown.

In September Britain's chief prosecutor, Keir Starmer, announced plans to draw up new guidelines for social media prosecutions. Starmer said he recognised that too many prosecutions "will have a chilling effect on free speech".

"I think the threshold for prosecution has to be high," he told the BBC.

Starmer is due to publish the new guidelines in the next few weeks. But Chambers, the reluctant poster boy of online free speech, is worried nothing will change.

"For a couple of weeks after the appeal, we got word of judges actually quoting the case in similar instances and the charges being dropped," said Chambers, who now works for his brother's warehouse company. "We thought, 'Fantastic! That's exactly what we fought for.' But since then we've had cases in the opposite direction. So I don't know if lessons have been learned, really."

View original article here

November 16, 2012: Herald Sun
Opposition research on social media and internet devices shows children fighting over Facebook

TEACHERS have been forced to break up Facebook fights between children as young as six while some teenagers are secretly running two Facebook accounts so they can keep one hidden from mum and dad.

And parents say the explosion in the number of internet-enabled devices in the home makes them feel like they are running the IT department of a small company, according to research by the federal Opposition.

Some children have been victims of classmates setting up fake Facebook accounts and using them to attack other students and teachers.

Parents have found their child playing games with unmoderated chat rooms and chidren say they don't tell parents about cyber bullying because they fear they will be cut off from their computer.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will today seek to tackle rising concern about the reach of social media and internet devices by announcing policy options and seeking feedback. Access all Areas. $1 for the first 28 days. Only $2.95 a week thereafter. Learn more.

Former high-ranking Optus executive Paul Fletcher, who is now a Liberal MP, has led an Opposition study into the issue. He says these devices have a presence in the lounge rooms and bedrooms of the nation equal to the television and telephone.

Options include requiring social media outlets like Facebook to have rapid removal of content harmful to children, especially in cases of bullying.

There could also be national rules for smartphones to have a symbol showing if they are suitable for children, a commissioner to certify online safety programs for school and more resources for federal police.

"This is a real challenge for parents to keep up with their kids and this technology," Mr Fletcher told the Herald Sun.

"Parents are under pressure and schools and teachers are also facing a major new area of responsibility."

Mr Fletcher said a principal had been forced to break up a fight over Facebook between six-year-old children while some teenagers had been found to have two Facebook accounts with one being a sanitised version for mum and dad.

Mr Fletcher said while many children were confident users of technology that did not mean they had the judgment to assess risks.

Mr Fletcher said there should me more "corporate social responsibility" from companies.

View original article here

November 13, 2012:
After Carly Ryan's death, her mum Sonya channelled her grief into a crusade

SONYA Ryan shouldered her grief, rose above her suffering and turned the greatest tragedy imaginable - the murder of her child - into a resolute crusade.

Since her precious 15-year-old daughter was murdered by an internet predator in February 2007, Ms Ryan vowed to dedicate her life to driving the cause of cyber-safety through the Carly Ryan Foundation.

Last night, Ms Ryan's selfless and tireless push for internet safety earned her the honour of being named South Australia's Australian of the Year 2013.

This is the first time that Advantage SA has partnered with the national Australia Day Council to announce a single award.

Dedicating the award to her daughter, Ms Ryan said: "I will continue to do Carly's work in the future so no child has to suffer in the same way she did ever.

"I will continue to teach children how to navigate the world wide web safely and prevent crime."

View original article here

November 12, 2012:
Sexual abuse, gore, racism, bullying rampant on Australian school Facebook pages

STUDENTS at almost 500 schools are running Facebook sites dedicated to humiliating their peers as more and more children are forced to carry the incessant burden of cyber-bullying outside the school gates.

A News Ltd investigation of more than 4800 Australian primary and high schools has revealed more than 10 per cent have a Facebook page on which students are taunting each other and teachers with abusive language and offensive pictures.

Many of the posts are too offensive to reprint, but include graphic sexual discussion of students and teachers, shocking gore photos of suicide and accident victims, underage girls labelled "sluts'', male teachers named as pedophiles and references to Nazism.

The majority of pages - many which carry the school's full name and logo - contain homophobic, racist and misogynist jokes and drug references.

Some of the most insidious pages, typically called "burn books'' or "goss pages'', name and tag students in vicious rumours, which are then "liked'' and shared around other students' social networks.

One of the most shocking pages, from a school in Queensland, features gory photos of suicide and accident victims and a horrific picture of a battered child with an accompanying "joke'' about domestic violence, all alongside references to the school and photos of the campus.

Also on the page, which has accrued more than 760 fans since being launched in late August, is a photograph of a baby with a gun to its head with the caption "one like = one baby shot'', and a cartoon advocating methamphetamine use.

Another school page, from NSW, names a teacher as a "child molester'' and calls another a "c***'', while students who have posted complaints have been abused with homophobic slurs.

A page from WA featured a photograph of a male teacher and female students overlaid with the logo of a pornography website, accompanied by snide comments joking that he was a pedophile.

The page, which accrued more than 600 fans since its launch in mid September, also featured photographs of students fighting, jokes about female Year 7s being "sluts'' and arguments between students using extremely offensive language, all underneath the school's official logo.

That page has since been deleted, but two others using the school's name still exist.

View original article here

October 31, 2012:
High school students suspended over abusive Facebook posts

A GOLD Coast high school has suspended students for posting abusive material on its Facebook page.

Southport High School Principal Steve McLuckie has told the Gold Coast Bulletin that he has suspended a number of students who posted offensive content on the Souhtport High Memes page.

"It is not a private page, this is a public page. The comments are inappropriate and will not be tolerated," he said.

Mr McLuckie said several students had been suspended since the page was created on 23 August and children need to be educated about social media.

"We, as a society, do not put up with anyone putting people down and belittling them," he said.

"As a society we do not accept that, as we are trying to educate and train students to be a part of that society."

Parents have had mixed reactions to the controversial move to stamp out abusive behaviour outside school.

While some apologised for the online actions of their children, others had no idea their kids were posting offensive material on the internet.

One mother who asked not be named said the school was "out of line" and the suspensions were inappropriate.

"They haven't done anything wrong. They have posted on a Facebook site - so what," she said.

"They have accessed the site in their own time. The school has no right to punish my children for what they do in their own time," she said.

View original article here

October 28, 2012: ninemsn
Bullied teen befriended by football team

Chy Johnson of Arizona suffers microcephaly, which makes her head smaller than normal and reduces her life expectancy by up to 30 years.

The 16-year-old was a constant target of bullies who would throw rubbish at her - until her mother, Elizabeth Johnson, emailed family friend and quarterback of the Queen Creek High School football team Carson Jones.

She told him that Chy was having a tough time at school and asked if he could help.

"He took it a step further and went and gathered Chy up at lunch and she's been eating lunch with them ever since," Ms Johnson said.

Since then other members of the football team have started looking after Chy and she is no longer bullied.

"They save me because I won't get hurt again," she said.

"They're not mean to me because all my boys love me."

Chy has since become a big supporter of the team and was recently named Queen Creek High School 'fan of the week' .

Meanwhile, the football team have been nominated for a national award for their kind-hearted deeds.

View original article here

September 06, 2012: Today Tonight
ProtectaChild features on Today Tonight

Social media has become the common flagship for teenage cowards - a means to hunt their victims with minimum effort - and usually the last to know about this secret world are the mums and dads of the emotionally battered and bruised. Brett Lee is an internet veteran - he knows how murky it can be. His specialty has been sought by the FBI and during his 22 years with Queensland Police, he even spent time as an undercover internet detective. "Cyber bullying is bullying 24/7 -- there is no escape," Mr Lee said. "Cyber bullying is a 100 per cent psychological attack."

Social media may keep people in touch but there's no escaping the bullies. "I think any parent that has a feeling inside, that they need to step in and do something, or need to put rules in place, they should trust those instincts because those instincts are there for a reason," Mr Lee said.

Now there's a system that can keep you in the loop of your children's cyber world. It's one based on trust, where the child allows the mum and dad to hover but not spy. "We thought last year we'd seen the pinnacle of cyber bullying and now it seems to be going up and up and up, getting worse," said Jason Edwards, the founder of Protect-a-Child.

Protect-a-Child is a system that scans your child's social media accounts for key bullying words. While parents sleep it searches their kid's Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and bebo accounts, fishing out words and cryptic nick names for bullying worldwide.

Elizabeth has signed on to Protect-a-Child after her daughter became a victim of cyber bullies. "At its worse she stopped going to school, wagging school; her grades diminished and we ended up pulling her out of the school," Elizabeth said. "I guess I got it because I want to be aware of what's happening on those sites without invading their privacy and checking everything they're doing."

The system also give parents a bird's eye view of who their kids are talking to online, whether it's using their friend's computer, their smart phone or at Wi-Fi hot spots. "It is community crowd protection, the cyber equivalent of neighbourhood watch. It allows mums and dads to know who are the cyber friends of their children and the parent can give their stamp of approval," Mr Edwards said.

View original article here

September 04, 2012: TV Commercial
ProtectaChild new TV Commercial has gone live today

The new TV commercial for the ProtectaChild system has gone live today. A video of the TV commercial is below:

August 22, 2012:
Cyberbullying victim's family reaches out

The parents of a teenager bullied into taking her own life are now acting to help other families.

Fourteen-year-old Brianna De Vries ended her life after being tormented on social media.

The New South Wales Education Department insists Brianna's school did what it could to support her but the De Vries family is now taking legal action against the Education Department.

In 2010, Brad and Liz took their children to Queensland for a new beginning that wouldn't last.

Despite leaving Woolgoolga High near Coffs Harbour, the online abuse followed Brianna.

But Brianna's parents, Brad and Liz, hope to provide a safe haven through "Stand for the Silent", which offers online help for kids and parents.

Liz Baguley says that if your children have to have an online presence then parents have to be a part of it.

The family still allow their kids online, but only because they're able to check their pages.

Headspace's Chris Tanti says Facebook should be for kids who are 16 and older, but once they are online the key is to keep talking about it.

Tanti says to watch for warning signs like children becoming withdrawn, depressed, anxious.

"You can't stick your head in the sand over this issue in a lot of ways I think the person who's being cyberbullied is in a state of shock," he says.

Brad and Liz say it's just as important for parents to know if it's their child that's being the bully.

They need to sit there and say this is wrong, that your behaviour is wrong.

View original article here

August 19, 2012:
Empathy work lost on one in five cyber bullies

TACTICS commonly used by schools to deal with cyber bullies, such as asking them to show empathy towards their victim, are ineffective in dealing with some of the worst offenders, new research has found.

Despite the millions of dollars spent on programs to stamp out cyber bullying in schools, no research has been conducted to assess whether they are successful.

A pilot program designed to test the effectiveness of anti-bullying programs is finding that in up to one in five cases, the recommended strategy of encouraging the bully to think about how the victim must be feeling - to empathise - is pointless.

"Research has found that around 20 per cent of young people who are engaging in cyber bullying are actually pleased with how they are behaving and are not capable of showing empathy," said Kate Hadwen, senior research fellow at the Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, in Perth. "There is absolutely no point in getting a child in who is cyber bullying another child and saying, 'Look what you are doing to this child, don't you feel sorry for them?' Because they don't." Advertisement

Ms Hadwen said this was especially true in cases of "particularly high level cyber bullying".

The three-year pilot program, which is being trialled on 4500 students in 40 secondary schools in Perth, is comparing rates of cyber bullying in schools in which the centre is conducting a specialised "whole school" training program with schools without the program. The trial finishes at the end of this school year.

Ms Hadwen said that in the 20 per cent of cases when the empathy strategy failed, schools were taught to work intensively with the bully to try to understand what was driving their behaviour. "We move away from the blame approach and say, 'There must be something you like about [doing this],' which surprises kids. There is a reason why they are doing it: it might be because it gives them a sense of power, it could be about control, it could be because they have been victimised themselves."

The program works with the student to devise individual strategies to stop their bullying. "It's a longer term approach, this is not just sit down for one session and we are done," she said.

View original article here

August 15, 2012:
New Zealand mulls new cyber-bullying law

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand said it was considering making cyber-bullying a criminal offence, amid concerns that existing laws offer inadequate protection from online harassment.

A Law Commission report on Wednesday said adolescents were particularly vulnerable to cyber-bullying, which could lead to depression, self-harm and suicide among victims.

The report's author, legal academic John Burrows, said existing laws had failed to keep pace with developments in social media and police were dealing with increasing numbers of complaints about online threats and harassment.

"Communication is different now because it can go viral very quickly and spread to a very wide audience and other people can join in," he told Radio New Zealand.

"In the school playground it's much less likely to spread widely."

Research commissioned for the report found 10 percent of New Zealanders had experienced issues such as cyber-bullying and invasion of privacy online, rising to 22 percent among 18-29 year olds.

Burrows recommended the creation of a new crime specifically aimed at cyber-bullying, making it illegal to post grossly offensive, obscene or threatening content that was aimed at causing emotional harm.

The proposed offence would carry a maximum penalty of three months in prison.

He said Britain had introduced a similar offence, which resulted in a four month jail term last year for a man who posted abusive content on a Facebook memorial page for a teenage girl who committed suicide.

"The mere fact that it's an offence enables the police to have a bit of teeth when they say: 'Look, if that happens again we will take you to court and prosecute you'," Burrows said.

He also called for establishment of a specialised online communications tribunal, with the power to issue "takedown notices" ordering the immediate removal of offensive content.

Justice Minister Judith Collins welcomed the 160-page report and said the government would consider its recommendations as a priority. "It's time to send a clear message to cyber-bullies, your behaviour is not acceptable," she said in a statement.

View original article here

August 13, 2012:
Cyber bullying tips

If you find your child is a victim of online bullying then here are some things to consider.

1. Don't threaten to, or actually remove the computer or disconnect online. (This is one of the main reasons that young people don't tell anyone about being bullied as they fear the loss of the computer).

2. Explain to them that it isn't their fault. Somewhere in the human brain the victim proportions some of the guilt on themselves when the blame lies firmly on the shoulders of the bully.

3. Don't engage in any discussion with the bully - if you respond it is likely to get worse. They will be getting the attention that they are looking for whereas if you ignore them they may well get bored and move on.

4. Block them. Depending on what program they are using to harass then there may well be an option to block any further contact - this is certainly the case with Facebook, MSN Messenger and most of the online chat programs.

5. Keep copies of the comments and threats, save the conversations and get your child to take screen shots if required. Don't keep looking at them but have them available if you need to take things further.

6. Talk to your school if the bully is a student there too. Cyber bullying is very difficult for schools as things often happen outside of school hours and outside of school property. However they are keen to assist where possible and it is reasonable to expect them to provide safety for your child from harassment whilst in school. They can do this better if they know what has been happening outside of school.

7. If any aspect includes threats or gets serious then contact the police. They have specialist youth officers and also online skills and will be very willing to assist.

View original article here

August 05, 2012:
Bullying without borders: cyber bullying

IMAGINE it's 1975. You're 14 years old. You've had a tough day at school - that group who sit by B block have been giving you a hard time because of your new glasses. You've tried to ignore them but they've been persistent.

Luckily there's only 15 minutes until the last bell rings and you can head home where you'll be free to play with your cat, do your homework and have dinner with your family.

With any luck those kids at school will have forgotten all about your new glasses come tomorrow.

Now imagine it's 2012. You're 14 years old. You've had a tough day at school - that group who sit by B block have been giving you a hard time because of your new glasses. You've tried to ignore them but it's hard when you finally escape their presence only to find a barrage of mean text messages from members of the group on your phone.

The last bell will ring in 15 minutes but you know that when you go home and try to do your homework, there will be messages from them on your email chat - and who knows how many more texts they'll send tonight before they get tired of it.

When you try to sleep the flashing red light on your mobile phone will notify you each time someone 'says' something to you in cyberspace.

If these kids get enough momentum, the teasing will only continue with more intensity tomorrow.

The capacity for bullies to inflict damage has never been so great, thanks to modern communication technologies. There are countless ways to be in contact via cyberspace, which is not such a problem if the communication is friendly - detracting from homework perhaps, but not dangerous.

When these same technologies are used to harass, threaten or stalk the effects can be - as we have all seen with the 'bullycide' phenomenon - very serious. Cyberspace is still relatively 'new' territory in terms of laws. It's a difficult arena to regulate - and bullying is not an easy thing to monitor in any case.

Governments, academics and concerned citizens are trying to navigate their way through this complex area with reports such as High-Wire Act: Cyber Safety and the Young (Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety, June 2011).

One important aspect of cyber bullying can be exploited. Unlike face-to-face incidents of bullying, online interactions are easily recordable. The information can be copied, saved, printed and reproduced; 'anonymous' contact can be traced.

This can be used as evidence by a school or even the police. Some bullies may only respond to the threat of expulsion or law enforcement.

But some approaches are more creative than others. Theatre groups are taking to school halls with performances about cyber bullying designed to raise awareness and provide healthy frameworks for issue resolution amongst peers.

One such group, Perform, recently took their musical My Friends Dot Com to a captive audience of Year 5 and 6 students at Carey Baptist Grammar.

The musical demonstrated the potentially severe effects of cyber bullying, the legal implications, self-esteem issues and positive models of interacting.

Afterwards the performers held a 'hot spot' segment where students could put questions to the characters.

"It taught a lesson - if you got into a situation like that, before you go to drastic measures you can do something first, like talk to someone about it. It's really important to do that before you do something tha's a bit 'out there,' " student, Isabella, said.

"I have been cyber-bullied twice and I talked to the person face-to-face instead of online and being silly about it. I told my parents and a teacher - there's not always an adult to help but you can have friends help as well."

This is an option identified by another creative project in the fight against cyber bullying.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is running a competition called Back Me Up.* Youth aged 13-17 are encouraged to make an online video of up to two minutes in length about how to support someone who is being cyber bullied.

The efficacy of this approach is supported by the fact that, according to data in the Commission's High-Wire report, around half of the students in this age group (41-47 per cent of males and 64-69 per cent of females) will at least tell their friends if they're being cyber-bullied.

While schools have little control over what happens in cyberspace, many believe there is still an onus on them to address the issue in whatever way possible.

Chris Ward, director of chaplaincy at Aitken College, believes it's important that schools have a good understanding of the issue and develop a response that involves parents.

"Cyber bullying is difficult for schools but we do need to do something. We've got a staff program on cyber bullying and we also have a policy where kids are required to sign a statement about use of the internet and electronic devices so the parameters are laid down. We have to create an environment where it's OK to talk about it," Mr Ward said.

"We need to make sure kids know they don't have to suffer; we have mechanisms to stop it, we will deal with hard copy evidence.

"But it can't be tackled without the parents coming on board, which might include sanctions at home such as taking the computer or phone away or blocking internet access."

There is no easy answer to the problem but a steep increase in the public's awareness of the issue in recent times is encouraging.

With governments, parents, non-profit agencies, kids and schools working together, Mr Ward believes

"there's tremendous hope with dealing with bullying".

*The competition closes 15 August - the top prize is a trip to Sydney to attend a one week professional film-making workshop at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).

View original article here

August 03, 2012:
Facebook says it has 83 million dubious accounts

FACEBOOK'S latest figures showing growth in global users also highlights concerns that some may come from dubious sources - duplicate accounts, pages for pets and those designed for spam.

Facebook members grew to 955 million at the end of the second quarter, but as many as 83 million may be dodgy, the company said in its quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

There are "inherent challenges" in measuring usage "despite our efforts to detect and suppress such behaviour," the social network said.

It said duplicate accounts - when a same user maintains more than one account - may represent some 4.8 per cent of active users.

Another 2.4 per cent may be for a business, group or "non-human entity such as a pet" and 1.5 per cent are likely "undesirable" accounts that use the accounts for spam or other malicious activity.

"We believe the percentage of accounts that are duplicate or false is meaningfully lower in developed markets such as the United States or Australia and higher in developing markets such as Indonesia and Turkey," Facebook said in its filing.

"We are continually seeking to improve our ability to identify duplicate or false accounts and estimate the total number of such accounts, and such estimates may be affected by improvements or changes in our methodology."

The number of real users is critical for Facebook as it seeks to get advertising revenues from the world's biggest social network. Some analysts have expressed doubts that the company can boost revenues.

In morning trade, Facebook shares were down 2.9 per cent at $US20.27 ($19.39), a sharp 46 per cent decrease from May's offering price of $US38.

View original article here

August 03, 2012: NSW Education & Communities
Raising good digital citizens

We're always reminding our kids to "pick up after yourself" and "cover your mouth when you cough", but lately many parents have had to add rules like "don't bring your mobile to the dinner table" and more importantly, "don't use my credit card to shop online".

We're the first generation of parents responsible for equipping our children with 'digital citizenship' skills - how to use technology safely and responsibly, and how to evaluate, manage and use the information and tools they find online.

The UK website, created by Childnet International, describes good digital citizenship as "building safe spaces and communities, understanding how to manage personal information, and about ... using your online presence to grow and shape your world in a safe, creative way, and inspiring others to do the same".

But don't our kids know more about all this than we do? Aren't they the 'digital natives' (a name coined by US education writer Marc Prensky)?

While it's likely your 10-year-old may have more experience with technology than you, adults and kids tend to start using the technology long before they're taught about responsible online behaviour.

When something that appears online makes a child feel uncomfortable, they need to know how to deal with it.

According to a report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in 2009, less than 18 per cent of respondents had formal training in how to use the internet. So, if you sometimes feel like you're making it up as you go along, you're not alone, it turns out most of us are.

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July 19, 2012: Herald Sun
Mount Isa man, 28, arrested for allegedly using internet to lure children for sex

QUEENSLAND police have arrested a 28-year-old man for allegedly using the internet to lure children for sex.

The Mount Isa man has been charged with seven counts of using the internet to procure children under 16 to engage in a sexual act.

No child was physically hurt, police said.

The arrest came after Mount Isa police wound up an operation targeting online child predators.

Inspector Paul Biggin said it should remind parents about the dangers of children using the internet unsupervised.

The internet brings predators into the family home, he said.

"Parents need to form the first line of defence and protect their children in the online world," Insp Biggin said in a statement on Sunday.

Twenty-five per cent of social networking users last year were children under the age of 10, with over 60 per cent of parents unaware privacy controls existed on social networking sites, police said.

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July 19, 2012: Herald Sun
Tips on how to protect young people from online grooming

The arrest and charging of a NSW teacher for engaging in sexually explicit conversations with a 14 year old girl in the USA has again brought to light the dangers of children 'chatting' to strangers online. Online predators are experts at internet grooming and luring young people into compromising situations that they are not able to handle.

"We urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to report the matter to police immediately," Sex Crimes Squad Commander Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec said. "The more information we have from the public, the better equipped we are to investigate and hinder the activities of online predators."

Tips on how to protect children online

  • Talk to your child about sexual victimization/exploitation and potential online danger.
  • Spend time with your children online; find out what sites they visit and who they are talking to.
  • Keep the computer in a common room in the house. It should never be in a child's bedroom.
  • Install and use parental controls and blocking software to reduce access to potentially dangerous sites or areas of the internet.
  • Make sure you have access to your child's online account and occasionally check their emails.
  • Think of all the places your child can access online services and as far as possible find out what computer safeguards are used by your child's school, the public library, and at the homes of your child's friends.
  • Talk to the parents of your children's friends so you are all aware of the potential dangers of online chatting and can watch out for each other's children when they are visiting.
  • If your child is approached by someone it is important to remember that they are the victim and were not mature enough to handle the situation.
  • Keep a close eye on your child's access to all types of live electronic communications (i.e., chat rooms, instant messages, Internet Relay Chat, etc.).

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July 14, 2012:
Dad fights bullies with iPad app

A SYDNEY dad whose son was bullied at school has fought back by creating an iPad app in order to help other children dealing with the same problem.

The first program of its kind, The Dandelion Project has been taken on by Apple and it will be rolled out globally in August.

Galvin Scott Davis, 40, from Marrickville, came up with the concept for the story when his son Carter, now eight, was being bullied at school.

Created as a book series as well as an app, he used a dandelion because it grows in most countries and is associated with the idea if you blow on it you can make a wish.

He said: "Some kids aren't really in a position to counteract bullying. The story was created to make something which would get him to talk to me about it."

The child in the story, Benjamin Brewster, can't physically counteract the bullies so he uses his imagination."

On the app, children can blow on the dandelion and see it scatter, while making a wish.

The project will also include the topics of cyber bullying, female bullying, and look at the story of the bullies themselves.

Luke Enrose, who worked on the Harry Potter films and Charlotte's Web, also took part in the project.

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July 11, 2012: The Daily Examiner
Social network 'predator' arrested

COVERT detectives working to expose child predators posing as young teenagers on the internet have made an arrest in NSW.

Late Tuesday, a 38-year-old man was stopped in his car near Goulburn and his home raided following a three-month investigation into his alleged behaviour on a social networking site.

Police allege that between May and July the man repeatedly engaged in sexually-explicit conversations with a detective, posing as a 14-year-old girl, and asked if they could meet.

The man's computer was seized for examination and he was charged with using a carriage service to procure a person under 16, two counts of using a carriage service to transmit indecent communication to a person under 16 and disqualified driving.

The arrest was made by detectives attached the Strike Force Trawler, an ongoing investigation into the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through the internet and mobile phones.

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July 09, 2012: YouTube
Cyber Predators - Brett Lee on A Current Affair

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June 29, 2012:
Prison a possibility for pregnant 16-year-old school bully

A PREGNANT 16-year-old school bully who said she would taunt her victim until she died is risking jail by continuing to stalk her and make death threats, a magistrate said yesterday.

The girl spent a night in custody after being arrested at school in Geelong, southwest of Melbourne, on Wednesday.

The Children's Court heard how the 16-year-old had been spoken to by police in May about stalking and intimidating the 17-year-old victim by driving past her house, following her in the street, and talking about her at school.

Then on June 27 she posted on Facebook: "I'm going to kill her. F--- the restraining order, she's dead."

The girl pleaded guilty to six charges, including stalking and making threats to kill.

The police prosecutor said she had shown a "complete disregard for the victim, the police and the courts".

The court was told another student was also under investigation for violating an order taken out by the same victim.

The 17-year-old victim has taken out five court orders against a group of bullies who had repeatedly threatened her in person and on Facebook.

The 16-year-old was released on bail. Sentencing was deferred until October for a Youth Justice report.

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June 21, 2012: TV Commercial
ProtectaChild TV Commercial has gone live today

The TV commercial for the ProtectaChild system has gone live today. A video of the TV commercial is below:

June 20, 2012: Brisbane Times
Safety in numbers the key to beating cyber bullying

"I HATE you" is not the sort of comment teenagers scrolling for the latest gossip want to see on their Facebook newsfeed. How much worse, then, to find "we hate you" or be the target of a group defriending? Young people rarely suffer cyber bullying alone; there are almost always bystanders to their torment, an Australian Human Rights Commission report has found.

The commission's BackMeUp campaign to tackle the growing problem encourages children and young people to stick up for their friends against bullies, for example, by posting supportive counter messages ("You're great!") or telling a trusted adult. Advert

isement: Story continues below A six-month bullying campaign against Jasper Matthews, 15, by a fellow student at their northern beaches high school started with playground insults and crossed into threats on Facebook and Xbox messaging before erupting in a playground fight a couple of years ago. Lucky for Jasper his mate Troy Poulter stuck by him.

"I physically stood in front of him and protected him," said Troy, also 15. Jasper suffered a cut lip and a bruised nose in the fight, but the damage "was more the emotional side, it lasted a lot longer than the physical side", said Troy.

Jasper feared he was "going to lose" because the bully, who was eventually expelled, seemed to have more people on his side. Troy's intervention "gave me a lot of hope and it gave me a lot of joy in seeing that I had friends that will stand up for me", he said.

Similarly, their classmate Katrina Millner stuck up for her friend Sophie Welch after two of their "close friends" hacked into Sophie's Facebook account and read her messages. Seeking to keep the peace within their friendship group, the girls have not confronted the hackers. But Katrina ''made sure they were not saying anything about Sophie behind her back that they should not be saying" and was able to reassure Sophie that "nothing bad was happening".

Of the young people surveyed for the commission by the Child Health Promotion Research Centre at Edith Cowan University, 50 per cent reported they had been cyber bullied. There was a witness in 87 per cent of cases. Among the witnesses, "20 to 30 per cent actually join in the activity, so their response becomes part of the problem rather than part of the solution", according to the Human Rights Commission spokeswoman Dr Helen Szoke.

The campaign was launched at Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus yesterday with Ruby Rose from MTV and Australia's Got Talent contestant Cody Bell, both of whom were bullied at school. It includes a competition for teenagers to make a video on how they could help someone who is being cyber bullied.

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June 19, 2012: Maroondah Weekly
ProtectaChild: For a worried mum, it's the web patrol

PARENTS have a new tool to keep track of their children online with the introduction of ProtectaChild.

ProtectaChild monitors and tracks the content being created by children and their friends on social networking sites using keywords, and tracks for inappropriate content. When these keywords are detected, an email or SMS is generated to the parent or guardian of the child to raise attention.

Director of IT at Croydon's Luther College Christopher Topp was a key contributor to the ProtectaChild project. "We've seen numerous reports from across Australia where children are unwittingly exposing themselves to a multitude of risks when using social media - cyber bullying or strangers to name a few," he said.

"We've also found an increasing trend that shows children are accessing social media from a wide variety of internet enabled devices - from mobiles to home computers, music or gaming consoles."

According to Mr Topp, the tool is the first of its kind in Australia to allow you to monitor social network activity regardless of where it is accessed from.

Croydon Hills mother-of-three Terri Stringer was one of the first to trial the program.

She admitted getting teenagers to agree to using the program was "difficult" because they felt that their privacy was invaded, but she said for younger children who were just joining social media, it would be a valuable asset.

"It's a great tool for educating parents and giving them peace of mind," she said.

"Your kids know it is on there, but their friends don't - or a stranger wouldn't, so there is that protection from potential online predators.

"A lot of kids have friends online that they don't actually know. It's a real problem."

Mrs Stringer said she found the program easy to use.

ProtectaChild currently monitors activity on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and Bebo

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June 14, 2012: The Age
Software to protect children online

A GROUP of Melbourne teachers and information technology professionals have devised a new software product to allow parents to monitor their child's social media activity.

ProtectaChild was born from a desire to keep children safe online. Parents sign up for the product online and the child accepts a link in their social media account.

The software tracks any social media account the child uses and sends alerts for "suspicious activity", like befriending an adult or befriending someone with whom the child has no mutual friends.

The full software package will be available later this month. One of the contributors, director of IT at Luther College in Croydon, Christopher Topp, said parents could also validate their child's friends.

"We feel that the best approach is to combine everything with education and combine the community into it," he said. "I don't think there will ever be a scenario where technology alone can fix this problem."

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June 13, 2012: Seven News
Battling cybr-bullies online

Teenage school kids are fighting back against cyber-bullies through a new website.

Project Rockit is the brainchild of two Melbourne sisters, determined to end the cyber-bullying age.

Rosie and Lucy Thomas have worked with more than 30,000 school students during a series of workshops to tackle the issue of bullying in all forms.

The program, supported by Richmond AFL star Daniel Jackson, has been so successful it is now available online as P-Rock, and teenagers at McKinnon Secondary College can't get enough of it.

"It tells you how to sort things out, what to do, what not to do," one student told Seven News reporter Margaret Dekker.

"I like how there's lots of interactive features on it, and it's not all reading through walls of text," another added.

Parents have also welcomed a new online tool, ProtectaChild, which allows them to monitor online networks.

View video here
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June 06, 2012: Bayside Leader
Beating the bullies by screening for help in Brighton

A CYBER safety film starring Brighton Secondary College students has won an international award.

Tagged scored a silver medal at the New York Festival's International Film and Television Awards.

The short film, to help educate young people about cyber bullying, "sexting" and protecting their digital reputations, was developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Year 8 student Alethea Duley said being in it was a great experience.

"I've heard stories about cyber bullying, and seen how it affects a lot of people," she said.

Sonia Muller, also in year 8, said cyber bullying was a big issue and "it's good that I could somehow help".

Senator Catryna Bilyk, chair of the Joint Select Committee for Cybersafety, said: "This is a valuable short film that I encourage all young people, parents and teachers to see."

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May 31, 2012: Australian Catholic University
Cyber bullies, victims, likely to engage in self-destructive behaviour

New research has found children who are both victims and perpetrators of cyber bullying are more likely to binge drink, face suspension from school, suffer depression and engage in self-harm 12 months later.

The longitudinal study - led by Professor Sheryl Hemphill from Australian Catholic University's (ACU) School of Psychology in collaboration with Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Deakin University - followed almost 800 Victorian students from primary through high school to investigate rates of bullying perpetration and victimisation, predictors and consequences.

Measuring bullying behaviour in Years 9 and 10, the unique study examined a range of behavioural and mental health outcomes in Year 11.

Findings showed that students who were victims (but not perpetrators) of cyber bullying in Year 10 were more likely to be depressed and engage in self harm in Year 11. In contrast, students who were bullies (but not victims) in Year 10 were more likely to steal and engage in violent behaviour in Year 11.

Nine per cent of Year 9 students and 7 per cent of Year 10 students both engaged in cyber bullying and were victims of cyber bullying. The study also showed that five per cent of Year 9 and 10 students engaged in cyber bullying. Of these, more students reported being victims than perpetrators, and girls were more likely to be cyber bullied than boys.

Professor Hemphill said cyber bullying is a relatively new phenomenon, so we haven't been sure of its long-term effects.

"This ongoing study shows cyber bullying does have serious consequences for students who are bullies, victims or both," she said.

"The findings of our study show a unique association between cyber bullying and self-destructive patterns of behaviour."

"The study will continue as the children enter into adulthood, and findings will impact on the ways we think about prevention of bullying."

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April 20, 2012: News-Mail
Cyber bullies hotspot

A PSYCHOLOGIST has warned parents to monitor their children's internet use in light of statistics which highlight a national problem with cyber bullying on social networking sites.

Australia rated fifth in the world for cyber bullying but worst for cyber bullying on social networking sites in a survey by marketing research firm Ipsos.

Thirteen per cent of online Australian parents surveyed in an international poll said that their children had experienced cyber bullying, and nine out of 10 reported that it occurred on social networking sites.

Doctor Rhiannon Penny, a psychologist with Family Challenge at Mooloolaba, said children should speak to their parents if they were being bullied online, but not all were willing to do so.

"They've got to let Mum and Dad know. And parents should be allowed to look at Facebook accounts and online chats," she said.

Dr Penny said cyber bullying could lead to anxiety, mood disorders, and interrupted school attendance.

"It's not uncommon, especially with teenagers, because they are the ones generally on Facebook and all the other sites like that," she said. "It can have devastating effects in terms of anxiety, just like normal bullying."

Dr Penny said cyber bullying could be more painful for the victims than face-to-face bullying because it could occur around the clock. She said bullies also tended to display more bravado online and would "say things that they would never say face to face".

She advised cyber bullying victims to "take a Facebook holiday" and stay off social networking sites until the behaviour ceased.

A former bullying victim said cyber bullying had compounded a problem which had begun in the school grounds.

The woman, now in her 20s, said she had been harassed and threatened by bullies who interrupted her online chats with friends on MSN.

The bullying lasted about four years and inexplicably finished at the end of Year 8.

Although she feared for her safety at the time, she said it had made her a stronger and more empathetic person.

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March 09, 2012: the Courier-Mail
Cyber bullies not aware of implications to victims

THREE out of four young cyber bullies don't believe they have had an impact on their victims, research shows.

Fewer than half thought their bullying was harsh.

And almost one in two Year 6 to 12 students have been either cyber bullied, bullied in person or have bullied others.

The research findings will be presented at a Griffith University youth violence and school bullying symposium later this month by Queensland University of Technology and leading cyber bullying expert Associate Professor Marilyn Campbell.

Students nationwide are getting ready for the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence next Friday and The Courier-Mail is campaigning again on the issue in an attempt to eradicate the scourge among children.

Research to be released following an anonymous survey of 3000 Queensland, Western and South Australia Year 6 to 12 students revealed about 30 per cent had been bullied in the traditional form and about 15 per cent cyber bullied.

About 12 per cent of the Year 6 to 12 students admitted to bullying others in the traditional form and a quarter of those bullies also indulged in cyber bullying.

Most concerning, Prof Campbell said, was the high rate of children who claimed what they were doing wasn't affecting their victims.

"About 8 per cent of these students reported cyber bullying others, and of these kids 75 per cent said that their cyber bullying didn't have an impact on anybody," Prof Campbell said. "Less than half of them thought their bullying was harsh.

"So the kids who are doing it are saying that the motive is more for fun and we didn't really mean to do any harm.

"Whether that is their true belief or whether that is them trying to get out of trouble, one doesn't know.

"They also seem to have more anxiety and depression, not as bad as their victims, but at least more than kids who don't bully.

"It says to me that these kids need help.

"Of course we have got to look after the victims but we also have to look after kids who cyber bully and that they need help with their mental health, with their anxiety and their depression as well as their social difficulties."

She is calling for intervention to be targeted at Year 3 to 4 students.

About 55 per cent of students, who were surveyed across independent, Catholic and state schools, said they had never bullied anyone and had never been bullied.

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March 05, 2012: Knox Leader
Day of action to fight bullying

VICTORIA'S 1.4 million schoolchildren are being urged to take part in a national day of action aimed at tackling bullying.

The March 16 event is aimed at helping children put an end to schoolyard and online bullying.

Schools are encouraged to host special assemblies, run information classes and activities to provide children with the skills to deal with the problem.

As many as one in 10 children have reported being cyber-bullied in school.

Education Minister Martin Dixon said he hoped all government and non-government schools would get involved in the event which has been organised by education departments across Australia.

"I hope all schools will take part in the day, whether it is just by talking about the issue, encouraging students to voluntarily take a pledge to stand up to and report bullying, or resolving to say to bullies that enough is enough," he said.

The education department will host a virtual conference for secondary school students at 2pm.

This interactive forum will provide students with practical advice on behaving responsibly online, and building lasting friendships.

The day of action follows Leader Newspaper's Don't Hurt campaign, which was successful in encouraging the State Government to pour more than $10 million into the Alannah and Madeline Foundation's eSmart program to teach children the dangers of online technology.

Alannah and Madeline Foundation chief executive officer Judith Slocombe said the day would make the community stop and think about bullying.

"If you want children to stand up and say it's not OK to do this, you have to raise them around adults, who are like that," Dr Slocombe said.

"The foundation has newsletters going out to all the schools and we have information on bullying in multiple languages and also on our website that we would like people to look at," she said.

Schools wanting to take part in the conference must sign up with the education department.

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