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23 Feb 2018 9:43
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  •   Home > News > International

    Politicians urge parents to get involved in 'child's e-safety' to detect cyber bullying

    Youth mental health experts say parents need more help to deal with cyber bullying.


    Youth mental health experts say parents need more help to deal with cyber bullying.

    Online bullying was one of the key topics at yesterday's Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting.

    "We have to do much more to engage parents above all to make sure they are more alert to what their children are doing online and that their kids talk to them when they are being bullied," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

    Julie Inman-Grant, Australia's eSafety commissioner, briefed the leaders at the COAG meeting in Canberra.

    South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said he asked her what message about cyber bullying she most wanted to get out to the public.

    "She said that her message would be to parents," he said.

    "You do have to get involved in your child's e-safety. You have to get involved in making sure that they're safe when they're online.

    "And just because it's happening in another room while you're watching the television it doesn't mean it's safe."

    Jeremy Tucker from Headspace mental health centre in Rockingham, Western Australia, said victims' parents often had no idea what was happening.

    "The main feedback we get from young people is they don't want to go and approach their parents," he said.

    "They feel like their parents aren't going to understand."

    Mr Tucker said teenagers were often worried their parents would take their phones away or ban them from the internet.

    Parents struggle to begin conversation

    The manager of Parentline in Queensland and the Northern Territory, Tony Fitzgerald, said mums and dads also struggled to begin the conversation with their children.

    "Anecdotally, what we do hear from parents who are contacting us is they're struggling with this issue," he said.

    "Some parents don't feel like they're equipped to have the knowledge that gives them the confidence to have a conversation with their kids around cyber bullying."

    Mr Fitzgerald is also a Kids Helpline manager and said they had surveyed nearly 400 young people about cyber bullying over the past few weeks.

    "They reported to us in overwhelming numbers that when they spoke to their parents about the issue they found it a helpful conversation," he said.

    "So, that tells us that kids are wanting to open up and talk to their parents."

    Mr Fitzgerald said he would welcome a bigger focus on awareness among parents. He said schools would be a good place to start.

    "Schools are a really, really important touch point for parents," he said.

    "There's lots of information that comes out from that environment on a daily basis so that's a critical point of reference and a critical place to try and reach parents."

    Parents shouldn't wait for politicians to act

    Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk put the issue of cyber bulling on the COAG agenda after the death of 14-year-old Amy Everett.

    "Our world is changing," Ms Palaszczuk said.

    "With this digital world, the bullying is leaving that school gate and it is following students into their homes, into their bedrooms and it is having a devastating impact on their lives.

    "And we've seen the tragic consequences of what that can actually do."

    She said the COAG discussion had paved the way for Australia's education ministers to try to improve awareness.

    And she has flagged she wanted a national summit on cyber bullying to be held later this year.

    But Jeremy Tucker said it was important parents did not wait for the politicians to act.

    They need to talk to their children now.

    "Let your young person know that you are there for them and they can approach you with these sort of things, and they're not going to get in trouble and you're not going to take their phone away or ban them from the internet," he said.

    "Because otherwise they're never going to come to you and talk about it."

    © 2018 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


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