ANTI-SOCIAL NETWORK: Australia – the Facebook bullying capital
AUSTRALIA rates number one in the world for bullying on social networks like Facebook, according to a global poll.
While Australia ranked fifth for cyber-bullying overall, nine out of ten parents said when the harassment occurred it was on these types of sites – much higher than the global average of six in 10.
The Ipsos Social Research Institute survey of 24 countries ranked Australia worse for bullying than all of the European countries, along with the US, Britain and China.
The four countries ranking higher than us, in order, were India, Indonesia, Sweden and Canada.
The research comes just a week after Victorian schoolgirl Sheniz Erkan took her own life after being tormented by Facebook bullies.
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Ispsos director Ryan Williams said the goal was to find out how prevalent cyber-bullying was and to find out where it was taking place.
“According to parents, Australian children were less likely to experience bullying in an online chat room, via email, or on their mobile phone, compared to global averages – but were more likely than any other nation to experience bullying via social networking sites, such as Facebook,” Mr Williams said.
Australia ranked 15th for mobile devices, 22nd for online chat, 17th for emails, 20th for instant messages, 21st for general websites and 18th for other forms of technology.
No Australian parent reported bullying was a persistent issue with their children.
Kids Helpline manager of strategy and research John Dalgleish said the rise of cyber bullying was a massive concern as it took it harassment from the playground directly into victim’s bedrooms.
Mr Dalgleish said the rise of social networking sites meant bullying was no longer limited to the classroom and teenagers faced further exposure to harassment thanks to the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook.
“Cyber bullying has a profound impact as it widens the audience (from school) and means it can be seen by anyone,” he said.
“It can be used as an extension of face-to-face bullying and takes it from the classroom and into a child’s own bedroom undermining their sense of safety and security.”
KidsHelpline, which offers hundreds of counselling services to bullying victims a year, urged young people affected by the harassment to come forward and speak out.
Mr Dalgleish said victims should tell a trusted adult or parent who can take action on their behalf, and in extreme cases take it to the police.
He added previous studies on the long-term effects of bullying had showed positive outcomes and an end to the behaviour after victims had told someone about it.
“The first thing victims need to know is it’s not their fault,” he said.
“Action can be taken and it can be stopped.”
Bullying can result in chronic anxiety, depression, fear, anxiety, withdrawal from school and in the worst cases, self-harm.
Parents are urged to monitor their children’s social networking use and speak to them about appropriate behaviour on the internet.
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