Cyber-bullying is a growing menace. To fight that parents have no option to but avail of every trick available to keep a tab on their children - including spying, says Western Australian child specialist Donna Cross.
Ms Cross, who was an Edith Cowan Professor in Child and Adolescent Health, said figures showed 30 per cent of the students in Western Australia were bullied at least once last term at school and 20 per cent said it happened often.
AdvertisementEighty percent are being bullied by people they know.
"One of the best strategies that parents can put in place is to spend a lot of time with their children on the internet, looking at the sorts of sites they're going to, learning their young people's passwords and knowing how to access the sites that their children are going to so that they can see the opportunities or the risks their children are experiencing online," Ms Cross said.
"It's a risk that parents become spyware by having this kind of information but it should be about communicating and parents need to be talking to their children about what they're doing and where they're going so it's open.
"The world-wide-web is open for anybody to watch so by knowing your children's password you are really seeing what the rest of world sees anyway."
Jane Bedford-Heighton of Como Secondary College said she had friends who were cyber-bullied.
"They are getting called names, photos are being sent around about them, that are just photo-shopped with cruel pictures in them," she said.
"They are very upset obviously. If photos were sent out about you that obviously weren't true, conveying acts you never did, it would hurt anybody.
"It is very simple to do."
Bronte Turpin, of Aranmore College, knew students who had a similar experience.
"I think it really goes deeper than someone saying it to your face because sometimes they do it anonymously and that really hurts and they put it on the internet where everyone can see it and they send those messages on," Bronte said.
"It hurts even at a place of safety, at home."
"People feel intimidated and don't want to say they've been cyber-bullied because cyberspace is so popular.
"It is not just group against group, it's everyone against everyone, even within a group with their best friend because they are anonymous."
Jane recommended students speak out about it.
"If you confront the bullies by sending a message, just as they did, asking them nicely to stop, most of the time, 90 percent of the time, it happens," she said.
Students from several WA schools have signed a declaration saying they are opposed to cyber-bullying.
The State government has also invested $400,000 through the Endowment Trust to study and tackle cyber-bullying.
"The only way that we can deal with this issue is through education," Ms Cross said.
"Laws are too slow and won't be strong enough to discourage this kind of behaviour so we need to help parents to understand what is going on and helping schools understand that.
"And the only way we can find that out is by talking to young people.
"Young people are the solution."
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