More than half of kids are being cyberbullied

New data from the Headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation indicates that 53 per cent of young Australians have experienced cyberbullying.

Seventy per cent of surveyed young people with ‘high’ and ‘very high’ rates of psychological distress also say they have experienced cyberbullying, revealing a strong link between the intimidating or threatening online practice and a young person’s emotional state.

Headspace Senior Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan says parents and guardians should be on guard as often young people are unwilling to open up about cyberbullying for fear it could worsen the situation.

He says signs to look out for include young people appearing upset after using the internet or a mobile phone, changes in how they are feeling, such as the onset of loneliness or distress, and a decline in schoolwork.

“We encourage anyone looking after a young person to get informed about how to support your young person to use the internet safely,” Mr Duigan said.

The following steps provided by Headspace can be followed when talking to young people about cyberbullying:

  • Listen calmly to what the person wants to say and make sure you get the full story.
  • Reassure them that they are not to blame and ask open and empathetic questions to find out more details.
  • Ask them what they want to do and what they want you to do.
  • Discuss some sensible strategies to handle the bullying.
  • Contact the school and stay in touch.
  • Check in regularly with the person.

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