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Optus & Kids Helpline working to erase cyberbullying
22 May 2012

Unveiling top tips to help parents identify and tackle the Australia-wide issue

Today, Australian children live in an increasingly connected and digital world. While this world provides an amazing source of entertainment and information, it is important parents are aware of how the internet should be used by children safely and the danger of its misuse.

One potential risk associated with internet misuse is cyberbullying. While cyberbullying can be a sensitive subject, it remains a very real issue for both school pupils as well as the parents for those affected. Research from Edith Cowan University in Western Australia* revealed that as many as 10 per cent of Australian school children report being a victim of cyberbullying.

To help parents and teachers tackle the issue of cyberbullying, Optus and Kids Helpline have developed a series of 'Erasing Cyberbullying' packs containing educational lesson plans and videos. Optus advises parents check in with their children's teachers to ensure they have access to these packs and they are being used in the classroom.

Wendy Protheroe, General Manager, Kids Helpline said, "Every Australian school has started the year equipped with the education packs, which feature a series of lesson plans and resources teachers can use to help students make safer choices online. We're calling on teachers around the nation to embrace the information and tools within these packs as a starting point to discuss the issue of cyber safety. We developed the packs in conjunction with our partner, Optus, to increase young people's awareness and understanding about cyberbullying, sexting and general online safety."

Jann Kohlman, Group Manager, Sponsorship and Community Programs, Optus adds, "As our use of and access to the internet increases throughout regional Australia, the importance of educating parents about its misuse is increasingly important. We hope that by following our advice parents will have greater peace of mind when it comes to their child's internet activity and that the lesson plans we have produced in association with Kids Helpline can make cyberspace a better place for students up and down the country."

To help parents identify and tackle cyberbullying Optus and Kids Helpline have put together six top tips:

  • Talk to your children: Discuss with your children the type of information they post online. Make sure they understand why personal details, such as full name, address and phone numbers should never be shared publicly.
  • Monitor your child's internet activity: Keep an eye on who your child contacts and how much time they spend online, especially on popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Stress to your children the risks of meeting anyone in-person who they've only become friends with online. Ensure you have appropriate security software on your computers - the Optus Internet Security Suite allows you to block black-listed sites, define safe sites and monitor your kid's internet usage. Find out more at optus.com.au/familyinternetprotection.
  • Don't overlook mobile phones and gaming consoles: Don't forget that the internet can be accessed on many mobile phones and gaming consoles too, so any restrictions you place on your child's internet use will need to be set-up on these devices as well.
  • Take action against cyberbullying: You can filter the emails your child receives and also block unwanted contact on social networking sites. Familiarise yourself with how to do this by reading the relevant website’s privacy rules and Terms and Conditions.
  • Don't remove or threaten to remove your child's technology/device: Any threat of removal creates a barrier to a young person as they may not disclose what is happening for fear of losing their technology. This can cause isolation and personal stress as they would rather not discuss any problems with an adult for fear of technology being removed.
  • Erasing cyberbullying: If cyberbullying and harassment continue, you may want to change your child's e-mail address and user names on Internet accounts. You may also need to consider contacting the school or parents of the bully as necessary.

The 'Erasing Cyberbullying' kits have been sent out to all schools and the resources for both teachers and parents and can also be assessed at www.kidshelp.com.au. To help promote honest and safe online activity at your school please contact Marie Bryan at mbryan@kidshelp.com.au or 0402 427 351.

*Research by Child Health Promotion Research Centre at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia April 2010.

Media contact:
Julia Clarke
Fuel Communications
jclarke@fuelcommunications.com.au
Tel: 8217 6500