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Cyber bullies still a big problem for kids

Claire Heaney, March 18, 2021 6:45PM Herald Sun

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One in two young people say they have been the target of cyber bullying. Picture: iStock media_cameraOne in two young people say they have been the target of cyber bullying. Picture: iStock

safe kids

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One in two young people say they have been the target of cyber bullying with a quarter threatened with harm.

Despite the focus on safe cyber use, headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation said alarming new research showed the message wasn’t getting through.

It said 33 per cent had been the victim of a rumour and 35 per cent received mean and hurtful comments online with others facing mental and physical threats of harm.

Released to mark National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence on Friday March 19, headspace said there had been no change in the incidence* of cyber bullying since its last research in 2018.

The new research came from a survey of 4000 young people aged 12 to 25.

The organisation is launching its campaign “bullying isn’t banter*” to raise awareness and get families and friends to buy into good role modelling.

“It is really worrying that the numbers of reported cyber bullying experiences in young people remain so high as the impacts of bullying and cyber bullying can be significant and long lasting,” headspace chief executive Jason Trethowan said.

“We can see from the research that things aren’t getting better in this space and now is the time to do more.”

Clinical leadership head Mr Nick Duigan said the research pointed to an alarming trend.

“We know that being bullied is associated with an increased risk of experiencing anxiety, depression and self-harming behaviours. This is really concerning, but also presents us with an opportunity to help create change,” he said.

Pre Teen Girl Being Bullied By Text Message media_cameraIf you’re being trolled, cyber bullied or cyber stalked, talk to a trusted adult, friend or mentor.

If you’re being trolled, cyber bullied or cyber stalked:

TAKE CARE of yourself
Trolling* can take its toll on anyone. Constant exposure to negative content can leave you feeling exhausted, angry or distressed.

TALK to someone
This might be a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, an elder, or even a friendly headspace clinician.

DECIDE if it’s trolling, cyber bullying or cyber stalking
Consider the behaviour you’re witnessing and work out what it is. If it’s trolling, you may be best to ignore it, so the troll does not get the reaction they are looking for.

People who troll want a reaction. They want you to get upset and keep on replying to their messages. They want you to tag your friends and pull other people into it, too. Often, by ignoring the content altogether and not responding, they’ll get bored and move on.

REPORT or block it
Sites give you the option to block and report content that is offensive, or you can block the individual. If you do this to a troll, the site may notice that they’re posting nasty stuff and block their access so they can’t post anymore.

Log out of your social accounts and stay offline for a few days. This will give you a break, and hopefully lead to the troll moving on when they don’t get a response.

REPORT cyber bullying and cyber stalking
Confide in people and keep records.

Change your privacy settings and passwords.


Headspace is hosting a cyber-bullying online group chat on Sunday April 4 at 7pm


  • incidence: the rate or frequency that something happens
  • banter: playful or friendly exchange or teasing
  • trolling: starting arguments or upsetting people on the internet


Bullied by a friend? It’s still bullying

Bullying a growing problem in our schools

How you can help stop a bully

Footy star slams internet trolls


  1. In one sentence, describe what this story is about
  2. What is the name of the national youth mental health foundation mentioned?
  3. What percentage of those surveyed had been the victim of a rumour?
  4. How many people were surveyed?
  5. How old were the people who were surveyed?


1. Write a Slogan
Imagine that Headspace has decided that “Bullying isn’t banter” is a bit hard for kids to understand. They have asked you to create a new slogan for the day of action. Write your slogan. It should get kids’ attention, say something important about bullying, and be easy to remember.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability

2. Extension
What do you think needs to be done to help to stop cyber bullying? Create a Stop the Cyberbully Action Plan for your school. Your plan should include activities and practical things that everyone can do to help everyone understand that they should never troll or bully anyone online. You should also include things that will help everyone protect themselves from this behaviour.

Time: allow 60 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: , English, Personal and Social Capability, Civics and Citizenship

Aside from this, there is also this!

Brackets are a great literacy tool for adding aside comments, or comments that could be covered over and the sentence still makes sense. What’s inside the brackets is extra information.

They can be used for a variety of effects: to add more detail, to add humour, to connect with the reader etc.

My little brother, (the funniest kid I know) got himself into big trouble today.

Select 3 sentences from the article to add an aside comment to using brackets. Think about not only what you want to add to the sentence, but also what effect you are trying to create.

Extra Reading in safe kids