With the advent of social networks, chat messengers and mobile phones humans have made themselves more vulnerable to a fresh form of bullying. Gone are the days when children experienced embarrassing harassment in back alleys of schools at the hand of bullies. Now the abusive behaviour has taken a global shield by resorting to the medium of universal Internet technology. A survey conducted between April 2008 and April 2009, reported that 72,000 children accessing the Internet experience online bullying and threatening behaviour or watched inappropriate content online.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) stood up to eradicate this destructive communication by conducting a training session for kids in 8th and 9th year of their schooling. The training session aimed at educating 300 kids how to deal with online bullying in a healthy manner. The purpose of such sessions is to help children escape from the depressive cycle of cyber-bullying and help them to strategically tackle such abuses that are hurled their way.

Parents are delighted at the initiation of such programs for they are sometimes confused how to protect their children from the adverse effects of cyber-bullying. A survey conducted by Galaxy Research found that 83% of parents felt helpless in an attempt to safeguard the mental health of their children affected by cyber-abusive behaviour.

Ms Julie Inman Grant, Microsoft Asia Pacific’s Director for Internet Safety and Security stressed that such findings highlight the importance of educating children and parents alike to cope with cyber-bullying. She goes on to state “With high awareness of the issue among parents, the next step is to equip parents and children with the knowledge and tools they need to cope with and prevent cyber-bullying incidents.”

Cyber-bullying brings forward the dark side of Internet into the spotlight. The practice of such Internet abuse is a serious social concern that is not taken very lightly by the majority of the masses. 57% of parents and 59% of children have reported to have heard of incidents of online bullying among their immediate social circle. The Mental Health Council of Australia reported three incidences of teenage suicide in response to online bullying.

Results of a survey conducted by “Girl Guides Australia”; expose some interesting findings on how cyber-bullying occurrence varies with respect to gender. It revealed that one-fifth of the girls of age group 10 to 14 come across online abusive bullying.  With the rising popularity of Facebook having 800+ million users worldwide, the Australian population enjoys a share of 10 million. According to Security Company AVG a large share of online bullying is through the medium of social networks like Facebook. AVG Australia security evangelist,  Lloyd Borrett blames loose parental checks as the triggering factor for this high rate of bullying.

The mental disorders such as depression and suicidal behaviour noted in children as a result of this online menace, has caught the attention of psychologists. Adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg states that, “One in four young people in schools across Australia are bullied every week.”  When questioned on the strategy to contradict online bullying he went on sharing that victims of bullying need to be taught effective tactics for coping, “other than becoming violent”.

What are your thoughts about how to deal with online bullying and cyber-bullies to protect your children? Leave your comments in the box below.

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