Townsville expert gives tips to protect kids from online bullies

TOWNSVILLE parents are being urged to log on to social media to empower them to better prepare their children against the threat of cyber bulling.

St Patrick’s College counsellor Courtney Rogers said it was vital that parents familiarise themselves with the social media channels their children are using.

“The internet is a whole new strange world and it’s constantly developing and evolving so quickly that parents have difficulty keeping up,” she said.

“It can also be an area where parents don’t have as much control as the do in other areas of their young peoples lives because it’s something that can be kept secret and private.

“The bullying that some parents may be used to from their own lives might have been getting pushed into lockers and stealing lunch money but the bullying that young people experience now is very different to that.

“It’s subtle, very insidious and also difficult to escape from.”

The advice to parents follows the Bulletin revealing that cyber-bullying is widespread and victims don’t want to report it for fear of becoming more of a target.

Teens tell of online agony

Ms Rogers took part in a question-and-answer session yesterday on the Bulletin’s Facebook page answering questions from parents concerned about cyber bullying.

Parents asked about how to prepare pre-teens for social media, what to do if you suspect your child is being bullied online and how to talk to teens about cyber bullying.

“I thought they were really thoughtful and intelligent questions and parents were really courageous putting their fears out there for their young people,” she said.

“I think the biggest message that came through was parents just want to make sure their kids are ready (for social media) and are doing the right things online and they know what to do if the situation arises for them.”

Ms Rogers said teens and parents struggling with cyber bullying should try and seek help either though their school or from a counsellor.

“Young people are hiding behind the anonymity of the internet without fully understanding the consequences of what they are posting and not having to deal with the reaction of the victims,” she said.

“Taking the bullying behaviour out of the shadows and into the light not only takes the power away from the bully, but gives power to the community in protecting that young person.

“If you suspect your child is a victim or a perpetrator of perhaps both which often the case, then they might be able to get new skills from a counsellor.”