26 September 2023

Parents warned to be aware of cyberbullying

Start the conversation

With Term three of the school year now underway, parents across the country are being urged to be alert to any changes in their child’s behaviour that might suggest they are the target of cyberbullying.

Drawing parents to the issue, Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said cyberbullying complaints to eSafety typically escalated during school term and often played out on platforms popular with young people, such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.

“eSafety received 875 cyberbullying reports concerning young people aged under 18 years in the first half of this year, an 80 per cent increase compared to the first six months of 2021,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“While we’re pleased that more and more young people feel confident to seek help and advice from eSafety, this increase reinforces the need for parents and carers to be actively involved in children’s online lives to help protect them.”

She said eSafety was concerned about social media challenges in schools being used to shame or humiliate others, including ‘Guess Who’, ‘Someone Who’ and ‘Smash or Pass’.

“While many young people participate in these challenges in good humour and without intentional malice, some may use them as an opportunity to extend conflict happening in the playground,” Ms Inman Grant said.

“We know that certain online challenges can lead to tragic physical harm, but they can also be damaging psychologically when specific children are targeted.”

She said serious cyberbullying material should be reported to the platform first, and if the material isn’t removed, eSafety can help get it taken down quickly.

“I encourage parents and carers to be as engaged in your child’s online relationships and engagement as you are their schoolyard friendships and activities,” the Commissioner said.

“Be sensitive to any changes in your child’s behaviour that might suggest they’re struggling, and keep reminding them that you always have their back if things go wrong online.”

She said signs that suggested a child was the target of cyberbullying included them appearing sad, lonely, angry, worried or upset more than usual; unexpected changes in friendship groups or not wanting to be with friends; changes in personality to become more withdrawn or anxious; and/or changes in sleep patterns, eating or energy levels.

Ms Inman Grant said eSafety’s cyberbullying scheme provided advice, support and assistance to remove abusive content that targeted children and young people aged under 18.

More advice for parents on the eSafety website can be accessed at this PS News link.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.