Cyberbullying is bullying done by means of technology: for example, using the internet or a mobile phone to hurt, harass or embarrass someone. New research released by headspace shows 53 percent of young Australians have experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime; and 70pc of young people who have high/very high levels of psychological distress have experienced cyberbullying.
Those aged 15-17 years make up the largest proportion of young people who use headspace centre services (32pc). Online bullying appears to be related to age (and possibly increased access to technology), with secondary students more likely to engage in bullying online than primary school students.
Being cyberbullied can have serious effects on a young person's mental health, and their performance at school and at work. Mental health conditions are usually complex and rarely have one reason. One person can undertake bullying behaviour, be a bystander and/or experience bullying. All can negatively impact mental health and wellbeing.
Someone who bullies may not value or feel good about themselves, and is likely to have experienced their own bullying/violence. Online bullying is usually an extension of offline bullying. Bully-victims had 4.7 times the rate of self-harm compared to young people not involved in bullying, with 20pc reporting self-harm.
Cyberbullying can become inescapable for many young people as it is hard to 'switch off', meaning there is a greater risk of significant impact on a young person's life. Bullying and cyberbullying, among young people, generally occurs between school peers. This is why it is so important for school communities to be able to identify and manage instances of cyberbullying with their students.
We want young people to know they're not alone and that there is always someone to talk to. Feeling alone in handling mental health difficulties is incredibly challenging. It is important to find a trusted person in your life to share your challenges with. This can be a teacher, coach, neighbour, family, friend or community member.
If there are no connections in your life that you feel comfortable sharing this with, then it is important to reach out for professional support. headspace encourages young people who may be experiencing cyberbullying to report the incident to a trusted adult, collect the evidence and seek support.
Help Seeking Options
For immediate help: Call 000 if it is an emergency
Lifeline: Call 13 11 14 or go to lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: Call 1300 659 467 or go to suicidecallbackservice.org.au
headspace: Call 1800 650 890 or go to headspace.org.au
Kids Helpline: Call 1800 55 1800 or go to kidshelpline.com.au/kids
ReachOut: Go to au.reachout.com
eSafety Commissioner: Go to esafety.gov.au
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