26 September 2023

Cyberbullying scheme gets a kick along

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Australia’s world-first cyberbullying scheme is to be significantly expanded under new regulatory guidance released by the eSafety Commissioner.

The Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant has announced that the new Cyberbullying Scheme Regulatory Guidance would see eSafety’s six-year-old Cyberbullying Scheme expanded to provide protection to children being bullied in online games and private messaging platforms.

“We know that around one in five have experienced bullying when playing online games and the more social media and gaming profiles they have, the greater the risk they face of being bullied,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“New research we’ll be releasing in early 2022 shows that 60 per cent of children with up to five social media and gaming profiles report being bullied online,” she said.

“If they have 10 or more profiles, this increases to 70 per cent.”

Ms Inman Grant said a third of eSafety’s cyberbullying reports had occurred over encrypted private messaging platforms.

The Commissioner said updates to the Scheme were part of the new Online Safety Act 2021 and would reduce the amount of time platforms had to remove bullying content once they received a notice from eSafety, down from 48 hours to 24 hours.

She said prevention programs like those offered by eSafety were having positive impacts on the issue, with more children taking control and taking protective action when they received hurtful comments online.

“Back in 2017, only 46 per cent of young people blocked or unfriended someone online,” Ms Inman Grant said

“In 2020, we have seen 64 per cent of young people taking these important steps.”

She said less children were suffering in silence, with 66 per cent of kids willing to talk to a parent or friend if something went wrong online, up from 55 per cent in 2017.

Ms Inman Grant said eSafety’s expanded Cyberbullying Scheme would begin operation on 23 January.

The Commissioner’s new 11-page Regulatory Guidance can be accessed at this PS News link.

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