Next week on our assembly, Ms Toula Gordillo, a Clinical Psychologist will address students and staff about the importance of staying safe with technology as well as ways in which this can be achieved. I have also spoken with our local police who will come to the school in the near future and address the legal implications of technology misuse.
There is a free parent and student information session on Saturday, 1 March from 2-4 pm at Glenview Gardens Country Resort (Next to Saddlery near Ettamogah Pub).
One of the biggest issues facing our students today and one of the emerging issues in suicide prevention is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is a relatively new phenomenon, but is on the increase and is just as damaging than other forms of bullying. It can leave victims feeling trapped and isolated, with nowhere to hide.
What is cyberbullying?
According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), ‘Cyberbullying involves the use of information and communication technologies, such as email, mobile phone and pager text messages, instant messaging (IM) and defamatory personal websites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others’.
The following statistics from a Queensland study by QUT of 120 year 8 students:
- 14% said they had been a victim of cyberbullying
- 11% said they had cyberbullied others
- 25% said they knew someone who had been cyberbullied
- 50% said it was on the increase
- text messaging and email are the most common methods used
Pre-teens and teens are the most active users of cyber communication and are therefore most at risk of cyberbullying.
People who experience cyberbullying often:
- experience feelings of hopelessness, fear and isolation
- become withdrawn and depressed
- feel unable to escape the situation as cyberbullying intrudes into a person’s home and personal spaces via internet/mobile phone etc.
- consider suicide as a way of escaping the pain and in some cases attempt or complete suicide.
A recent survey conducted by i-SAFE America concluded that 58 percent of children who have experienced cyberbullying never told an adult or their parent.
- While it can be very difficult to tell if someone is being cyberbullied, below are some warning signs to look out for:
- Spending long hours on the computer or mobile phone and getting anxious if they are without it for long periods of time;
- Closing his or her browser or mail windows immediately when you enter the room;
- Getting evasive or defensive when you ask about his or her Internet /mobile phone activity;
- Constantly cleaning out or delete their message or search history folders;
- Being less attentive or interested in schoolwork (including falling grades and/or reluctance to attend school);
- Noticeable change in behaviour (such as eating habits, willingness to go out, interaction with friends/family);
- Change in health status (e.g. frequently complaining about headaches, stomach-aches or nausea);
- Appearing fearful or evasive when discussing their social activities or friends;
- Becoming emotionally distant and withdrawing from support networks (e.g. teachers, parents etc).
If you think someone is being cyberbullied the most important thing to do is TELL SOMEONE who can do something about it.
Our school has set up a Bullying Support page on our Connect Website. This page provides information to assist students and parents as well as providing a method of reporting bullying of any form directly to the Head of Middle and Senior Schools. There are also links to a number of online support services.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions in relation to this matter.
David Heyworth, Head of Senior School