Cyber-bullying is an ongoing issue for young Australians, with 1 in 4 children from year 4 to year 9 reporting that they have been bullied online .
Parentline defines bullying as the deliberate psychological, emotional and/or physical harassment of one person by another person or group. It can include exclusion from peer groups, intimidation, extortion, embarrassment, harassment and violence (or threats of violence).
The parent support group says cyber-bullying is an extended form of traditional bullying which uses technology such as mobile phones or the Internet as the ‘weapon’. Cyber-bullying is usually just another tool that bullies will use along with traditional methods.
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Co-founders of the Australian Teenage Expo, Sonya Karras and Sacha Kaluri, speak with thousands of high school students every year as they travel the country, delivering talks about motivation and safe drinking.
Sonya and Sacha say there are four steps parents should take if their child is being bullied online.
- Check that your child understands simple ways to prevent the bullying from taking place. For example, changing their contact details or blocking contacts.
- If your child is being cyber-bullied over the Internet or on a text message, don’t delete the correspondence or the history. Save and print the conversations, and also screen capture the correspondence, so that you have proof of what happened if the situation needs to be escalated.
- Contact your service provider to report the behaviour. They can help you block things from the sender and it helps to have a history of you recording your concerns.
- Show records of the bullying to your child’s school – they will have policies in place for the inappropriate behaviour. If the situation is more severe, go to the police as threatening messages are illegal.
 Cross, D. (2009). Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study. Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, WA.
These tips are brought to you by the Australian Teenage Expo. For further information visit www.teenageexpo.com.au