A Melbourne mother has blamed her 14-year-old daughter’s suicide on the internet and the tragic case has highlighted the problem of cyber bullying among young people.
In Australia, one of the first comprehensive studies of cyber bullying shows about 10 per cent of teenagers and children have experienced some form of sustained bullying using technology. It is a behaviour that can have tragic consequences.
“Friday night she was on the internet and told me about some message that had come through, and she wanted to die because of the message,” Ms Rae said. “I laid in bed with her in my bed and we discussed it for about an hour and she left me fairly happy. I can guarantee you if she didn’t go on the internet Friday night she’d be alive today.”The girl’s death has devastated her family and friends and has dramatically brought to the fore the impact of cyber bullying. Professor Donna Cross from Edith Cowan University has completed a landmark study on cyber bullying, commissioned by the Federal Government.
Professor Cross describes cyber bullying as “any bullying behaviour that is delivered through technology – through mobile phones or over the internet”.
She says kids who have been bullied are much more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
“We know that probably the most significant effects on children who’ve been bullied are effects on their mental health,” she said. “They’re much more likely to feel depressed, anxious, their self-esteem is affected, there are some students that report suicide ideation; it has very serious immediate effects and long-term effects.”Twenty-thousand Australian school children were surveyed using a combination of anonymous questionnaires and interviews. According to the survey conducted by Professor Cross, about 10 per cent of young people reported they were being cyber bullied.