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Cyberbullying

The Anglican Schools Commission is committed to the safety and protection of its students and school community members. This commitment includes safety in the online environment.  The Anglican Schools Commission recognises the online environment as an essential aspect to create a child safe organisation (Principle 8 National Principles of Child Safe Organisations and Standard 8, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, 2018). The Anglican Schools Commission is committed to assist schools respond to cyberbullying including implementing appropriate recommendations outlined in the Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce Report ‘Adjust your Settings’, 2018.

The Anglican Schools Commission works with School Online Safety Champions to assist in:

  • promoting safety in online learning environments
  • promoting online wellbeing of students, parents and staff
  • minimising the opportunity for children and young people to be harmed.
The Anglican Schools Commission has provided a cyberbullying assistance guide to support and help guide schools when responding to the complex issue of cyberbullying in their community.

All cyberbullying occurrences will be taken seriously and assessed. 

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying. Cyberbullying is the ongoing and deliberate misuse of digital technologies to harass, intimidate, humiliate or threaten. Cyberbully is purposeful, overtly or covertly, and aims to harm or hurt socially, psychologically and/or physically.

Cyberbullying can involve an individual or a group misusing their power over one or more persons and thus may involve the accumulation of many single instances of cyberbullying from different people.

Cyberbullying may or may not accompany physical, or traditional forms of bullying and may have immediate and/or long term affects.

Cyberbullying defining features:

  • Committed using digital technologies,
  • Wilful and deliberate acts,
  • Ongoing or repeated patterns of behaviour, and
  • Intent to cause harm or to be perceived as wanting to cause harm.

What might cyberbullying look like?

  • May occur across a number of social media platforms
  • Posting or sharing images, videos and comments to humiliate and embarrass
  • Excluding someone from online groups or activities
  • Posting someone’s personal information online
  • Using intimate images without permission to humiliate someone
  • Threatening violence
  • Misusing personal information and assuming another person’s identity or accounts
  • Creating fake accounts to humiliate, intimidate and harass someone
  • Making unwanted and persistent contact with someone online
  • May be conducted by an individual or group
  • Spreading malicious gossip and rumour to hurt, humiliate and harass

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner (OESC) outlines indicators of a student being cyberbullied may include:

  • changes in personality, for example becoming withdrawn and unexpected mood changes such as being anxious, sad, angry or crying
  • isolated, lonely or distressed
  • drastic or unexpected changes in their friendship groups
  • decreased interaction with other students
  • peer rejection
  • decline in their standard school work
  • excessive sleepiness or lack of focus in the classroom and in other activities
  • higher levels of absenteeism
  • increased negative self-perception
  • a decline in their physical health
  • suicidal thoughts

Note: evidence of suicidal thoughts should be reported to the Student Protection Officer (not sure if this is the correct word you should use) and the parents/carers immediately for action.

What is not cyberbullying?

  • Not liking someone
  • Disagreements or arguments where there is no power imbalance
  • Single act or isolated incident of aggression, intimidation or violence (These action are subject to other forms of actions, such as breach of discipline or Code of Conduct).

What can Student’s do about cyberbullying?

  1. Block the person and talk to someone you trust
  2. If you feel in immediate threat or danger call triple zero (000) to contact the police
  3. If you feel you need to talk to a counsellor, try a school counsellor, or you can call the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au.
  4. If cyberbullying or an online incident has occurred contact your Cyber Safety Champion or your Student Protection Officer. They can help you report it and help initiate a plan to help you.
  5. You can report the cyberbullying material to the social media service. Remember to collect the evidence (copies of URLS and/or screenshots of the material). If the content is not removed within 48 hours of reporting it to the social media service, report it to the Office of eSafety Commissioner at safety.gov.au/reportcyberbullying.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner can help you resolve cyberbullying online. All types of online harassment and abuse are able to be reported and may be assessed.

Consequences of Cyberbullying at school

The primary aim of school response to cyberbullying is to support a safe and positive learning environment for all students by:

  • Stopping any bullying; and
  • Restoring the relationships of the students.

There are many measures which may be undertaken including individual counselling of all parties, group mediation and a range of traditional disciplinary sanctions (such as a warning, revoking privileges, detentions, suspension, expulsion or dismissal).

The eSafety Commissioner

The Commonwealth eSafety Commissioner can investigate complaints where an Australian child is (or was) the target of cyberbullying material as prescribed under the Enhancing Online Safety Act 2015, Section 5(1) and:

  1. the material is provided on a social media service or relevant electronic service
  2. an ordinary reasonable person would conclude that the material was intended to have an effect on a particular Australian child
  3. that the material would be likely be seriously threatening, seriously intimidating, seriously harassing or seriously humiliating effect on the targeted Australian child.

The eSafety Commissioner can:

  • request that the social media service remove the material
  • issue a notice for removal of the material (is this not the same as the point above? And the first part of the final dot point?)
  • work with the child’s school, parents or police to help stop the cyberbullying
  • request the person who posted the cyberbullying material remove it and stop posting any further cyberbullying material.

Offences

Serious incidents of cyberbullying can be of a criminal nature requiring police intervention.

Australian Federal Police and Queensland Police can take action and instigate criminal proceedings against participants of cyberbullying. This includes activities that fall within the scope of the following laws:

Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995:

  • Use a carriage service (internet) to menace, harass or cause offence to another person, Section 474.17, it is an offence to use the internet, or social media, or a telephone (including mobile) to menace, harass or cause offence to another person online. The maximum penalty for this offence is 3 years imprisonment or a fine of more than $30,000.
  • Use a carriage service to make threat to kill or to cause serious harm to another person, Section 474.15,  maximum penalty 10 years imprisonment;
  • Use a carriage service to promote methods for suicide or counsel another person to commit suicide 474.29A and Section 474.29B, maximum penalty 1000 penalty units;
  • Use a carriage service for child abuse material, Section 474.22, maximum penalty 10 years imprisonment.

Queensland Criminal Code Act 1899, including:

  • Distribute intimate images Section 223, maximum penalty 3 years imprisonment;
  • Involves a child in making child exploitation material, Section 228A, maximum penalty 20 years imprisonment;
  • Make child exploitation material, Section 228B, maximum penalty 20 years imprisonment;
  • Distribute child exploitation material, Section 228C, maximum penalty 20 years imprisonment;
  • Possession of child exploitation material, Section 228D, maximum penalty 20 years imprisonment;
  • Threats to send intimate images Section 229A, maximum penalty 3 years imprisonment;
  • Aiding suicide, Section 311, maximum penalty life imprisonment;
  • Unlawful stalking, Section 359B, maximum penalty 7 years imprisonment;
  • Making threats, Section 359, maximum penalty 5 years imprisonment;
  • Criminal deformation, Section 365, maximum penalty 3 years imprisonment;
  • Obtaining or dealing with identification information (Identity Theft), Section 408D, maximum penalty 5 years imprisonment;
  • Hacking, Section 408E, maximum penalty 2 years imprisonment; and
  • Extortion, Section 415, maximum penalty 14 years imprisonment;

If an offender is using a hidden network to commit offences, Sections 228A-228D, the maximum penalty is increased to penalty 25 years imprisonment.

Child exploitation material (CEM) is defined in the Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) 207A as:

  • Material which is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult
  • Describes or depicts a person, of a representation of a person who is apparently under the age of 16 years which is:

Of a sexual context (engaging in sexual activity) or

Offensive or demeaning nature or

Subject to torture and

CEM may be written words, a drawing, an image or video

Online Resources and Support

Anglican OnlineSafety and Digital Wellbeing Network: Anglicancsaw.org

Office eSafety Commissioner: https://www.esafety.gov.au/wellbeing-directory

Wellbeing Directory: https://www.esafety.gov.au/wellbeing-directory

Cyberbullying – Students:

https://www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying-complaints

Cyberbullying – Parents Guide

https://www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cyberbullying-complaints/cyberfbullying-a-guide-or-parents

Image Based Abuse

https://www.esafety.gov.au/image-based-abuse/action/remove-images-video/report-to-us

Kids helpline:  https://kidshelpline.com.au/

Online help is available for ages 5-12, 13 to 17, 18-25

  • Online Chat
  • Call 1800 55 1800

Bullying No Way: https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/

Beyondblue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

eHeadspace: https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/

Lifeline: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Reachout: https://au.reachout.com/

Queensland Police Service: https://www.police.qld.gov.au/programs/cscp/personalsafety/children/

Australian Cyber Security Centre https://www.cyber.gov.au/

IDcare: https://www.idcare.org/

Introduced by the Anglican Schools Commission in 2019

What can I do?

Remember you are not on your own. There are lots of people who can help you and who will understand.

It’s important you tell someone who is:

  • a responsible adult who can help you, not just someone online but in real life;
  • a teacher or school counsellor; and
  • your parents or maybe someone else, like a grandparent, uncle or aunt.

Report Cyberbullying and access online help from the eSafety Commissioner.

Those who witness cyber hate and bullying don’t have to tolerate it. Bystanders can have a positive impact. For example, sending a simple private message of support, seeking help and notifying a responsible adult. We can control our behaviour online and work toward a respectful online world. 

 

Need a translator or an interpreter to help with Cyberbullying?

If you or your parents need a translator you can access the national Translating and Interpreting Service on 131450 and you can contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 for those with hearing or speech impairments. 

Access Translation Service