Members say enough is enough when it comes to cyberbullying
Our union’s submission to the Queensland Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce will ensure that the professional voices of our members are heard when it comes to addressing this insidious epidemic in Australia, as IEUA-QNT Research Officer Adele Schmidt writes.
In response to growing concerns about the prevalence and impact of cyberbullying, in March 2018 the Queensland government announced the formation of the Queensland Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce to provide advice and coordination in relation to developing and implementing an anti-cyberbullying framework for Queensland.
Cyberbullying is a problem with potentially deadly consequences for children and young people.
Media reports about teenagers who have been driven to extremes — including suicide in the most tragic cases — appear with alarming frequency and statistics indicate the problem is getting worse.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner recently reported that it had received 264 complaints of cyberbullying from children and teenagers in the financial year to date, which is a 28% increase on the 206 complaints received in the same period last year.
Numerous studies have shown that youth who are bullied have a higher risk of depression and anxiety and are more likely to struggle personally and at school.
They may miss, skip or drop out of school, receive poor grades, have lower self-esteem and be more likely to use alcohol and drugs.
Bullying can create high levels of social anxiety and a sense of loss of dignity and agency. What members want
As a key stakeholder, our union has prepared a submission to the Taskforce.
The experience of our members tells us that what really matters is that schools establish clear policies about how they will deal with cyberbullying where it impacts on, or is an extension of, interactions between students at a school. Such policies should make it clear that cyberbullying — including cyberbullying outside school hours or on external devices — will not be tolerated.
It is also imperative that students understand that if they engage in cyberbullying, they can be the subject of disciplinary action (including suspension/ exclusion) taken by the school. One of the key issues raised by our members is a lack of consistency of administration in enforcing behaviour management and disciplinary policies at the higher level.
To be effective, policies must be translated into consistent and strong action when complaints of cyberbullying are brought to attention.
We thank the members who have contributed to our submission – an active professional voice is integral to making meaningful change in our community.
To address cyberbullying, members flagged the need for:
- Clear policies regarding how schools deal with cyberbullying
- Consistent and strong action taken by school management when dealing with complaints of cyberbullying
- Clear zero-tolerance message to students