By Kathryn Edwards
The suicide of a 14-year-old girl in southern Victoria last week has pushed the issue of cyber bullying into the spotlight. The child’s mother has blamed the suicide on the Internet. The case, the fourth suicide in six months among students from the same school, has highlighted the severe impact of cyber bullying on young people.
“I laid in bed with her in my bed and we discussed [an unwanted Internet message] for about an hour and she left me fairly happy,” the child’s mother, Karen Rae, told Melbourne radio station 3AW. “I can guarantee you if she didn’t go on the Internet Friday night she’d be alive today.”
Not-for-profit organisation Beyond Blue’s clinical advisor, Dr Michael Baigent, says that until recently adults and children hadn’t taken the threat of cyber bullying seriously.
“I think the effects have mostly been noticed by children and a small group of parents of the children most affected by it, and until now it hasn’t really been an issue that’s been in the forefront of people’s attention.”
Bullying is a significant factor in mental health problems for children and adolescents. Mobile phones, instant messaging software, chat rooms and social-networking sites can all be used for bullying.
Not only is the Internet making it easier for bullying to occur, Baigent said, but the ability to reach a mass audience online is making the impact worse. Full story.