TIME IS UP FOR BUL­LIES

Task­force re­port of­fers ways to com­bat scourge

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­REN MAR­TYN-JONES

SCHOOLS will be forced to tell the par­ents of bul­lied chil­dren ex­actly who will in­ves­ti­gate their com­plaint and what ac­tion will be taken against the bully un­der a rad­i­cal over­haul of the way ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties re­spond to the scourge.

The re­vamp is one of 29 rec­om­men­da­tions of Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk’s Anti-Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing Task­force and will stop com­plaints drag­ging on for months while anx­ious par­ents are kept in the dark.

Ms Palaszczuk will an­nounce to­mor­row she has ac­cepted all rec­om­men­da­tions of the task­force, which was es­tab­lished af­ter the tragic death of Amy “Dolly” Ev­erett.

So­cial me­dia giants will be pres­sured to do more to pro­tect chil­dren us­ing their plat­forms, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing al­go­rithms to de­tect bul­ly­ing, as part of the rec­om­men­da­tions.

QUEENS­LAND schools will be forced to pro­vide par­ents of bul­ly­ing vic­tims with clear in­for­ma­tion about how their com­plaint will be han­dled.

This will in­clude who will in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter, when it will be fi­nalised, and po­ten­tial pun­ish­ment for bul­lies.

An over­haul of school­based pro­cesses for deal­ing with bul­ly­ing mat­ters, which are cur­rently in­con­sis­tent and hap­haz­ard, is among the 29 rec­om­men­da­tions of Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk’s An­tiCy­ber­bul­ly­ing Task­force.

Bul­ly­ing and cy­ber­bul­ly­ing com­plaints would no longer be able to drag on for months and anx­ious par­ents would no longer be kept in the dark about the sta­tus of mat­ters raised with the school.

In­stead, par­ents who re­port in­ci­dents of bul­ly­ing to a school will be pro­vided the contact de­tails of the school staff mem­ber who will man­age the com­plaint, a sum­mary of how it will be dealt with, de­tails of what sup­port their child will be of­fered, a time­line of when they will be in­formed of the out­come of the mat­ter and de­tails of dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures the school takes against bul­lies.

Fam­i­lies will also be told what the pol­icy is if they wish to ap­peal or es­ca­late a mat­ter.

The Sun­day Mail un­der­stands Ms Palaszczuk will an­nounce she has ac­cepted, ei­ther in full or in prin­ci­ple, all 29 rec­om­men­da­tions of the Anti-Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing Task­force, chaired by Madonna King, when she re­leases the Gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the Task­force re­port to­mor­row via so­cial me­dia.

“Since cy­ber­bul­ly­ing oc­curs on phones and so­cial me­dia, it makes sense to spread our mes­sage there,” Ms Palaszczuk said of the an­nounce­ment.

The Task­force re­port also tar­gets the con­duct of so­cial me­dia giants such as Face­book and Twit­ter. They will be urged to boost their de­fault pri­vacy set­tings, which are of­ten set at the low­est thresh­old, giv­ing users lit­tle con­trol over who ac­cesses the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion they choose to share on­line.

So­cial me­dia com­pa­nies will also be asked to do more to ver­ify new users to en­sure only le­git­i­mate so­cial me­dia accounts are cre­ated.

This mea­sure is de­signed to help crack down on the pro­lif­er­a­tion of fake and im­poster so­cial me­dia accounts that are of­ten used for bul­ly­ing and trolling pur­poses. Re­cent data from the fed­eral eSafety Com­mis­sion re­veals im­poster so­cial me­dia pro­files de­signed to ridicule chil­dren now make up about a fifth of all com­plaints to the agency.

So­cial me­dia com­pa­nies will also be asked to make it eas­ier for young peo­ple to block cy­ber­bul­lies and on­line trolls.

They will also be lob­bied to pro­vide fund­ing for new an­tibul­ly­ing aware­ness cam­paigns and to help de­velop al­go­rithms that can be used to au­to­mat­i­cally de­tect and crack down on on­line bul­ly­ing con­duct, in a man­ner sim­i­lar to the work that is be­ing done in counter-ter­ror­ism.

The Task­force also rec­om­mends im­prov­ing the way po­lice han­dle bul­ly­ing mat­ters, with po­lice in some juris- dic­tions pro­vid­ing a high level of co-op­er­a­tion and sup­port to schools deal­ing with bul­ly­ing mat­ters and oth­ers pro­vid­ing lit­tle or no sup­port.

Po­lice will be re­quired to re­view their ap­proach to deal­ing with bul­lies to en­sure all cy­ber­bul­ly­ing com­plaints are han­dled con­sis­tently.

Fund­ing will be pro­vided for young peo­ple to de­velop their own anti-cy­ber­bul­ly­ing cam­paigns and the Gov­ern­ment will also fund an aware­ness cam­paign tar­geted at par­ents to en­sure they un­der­stand cy­ber­bul­ly­ing of­fences can carry a five-year jail term.

Ms Palaszczuk es­tab­lished the Anti-Cy­ber­bul­ly­ing Task­force af­ter the sui­cide of Amy “Dolly” Ev­erett, who at­tended a Queens­land board­ing school.

She met Dolly’s par­ents Tick and Kate Ev­erett.

“Tick and Kate are among the most coura­geous and in­spir­ing peo­ple I have met,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The Premier has promised the Gov­ern­ment will pro­vide fund­ing for the Everetts to ex­pand their anti-bul­ly­ing work in re­gional Queens­land.

Ms Palaszczuk also paid trib­ute to Ms King, whose task­force trav­elled around the state, hear­ing heart­break­ing sto­ries from fam­i­lies dev­as­tated by the bul­ly­ing cri­sis.

Ms King said the mes­sage from par­ents and teenagers was the same around the state – changes need to be made.

“This is a whole com­mu­nity is­sue and if our rec­om­men­da­tions are im­ple­mented, par­ents will re­ceive the as­sis­tance they want, schools will be bet­ter set up to in­ves­ti­gate com­plaints and our fo­cus all

Tick and Kate are among the most coura­geous and in­spir­ing peo­ple I have met PREMIER AN­NASTA­CIA PALASZCZUK

along – our chil­dren – will be safer,” she said.

Stu­dents at St Mar­garet’s Angli­can Girls School were recog­nised at the Premier’s Cre­at­ing Queens­land’s Fu­ture cod­ing com­pe­ti­tion this week for de­vel­op­ing dig­i­tal so­lu­tions to cy­ber­bul­ly­ing.

Year 9-10 win­ners Is­abel Crock­ett, Eloise Walker and Ashleigh Pomeroy en­cour­aged young chil­dren to talk to their par­ents or a trusted adult if they were bul­lied on­line.

“The ma­jor­ity of bul­ly­ing oc­curs on­line these days as most chil­dren spend their free time on­line,” Ms Walker said.

“I ad­vise my friends to talk to some­one if they feel that peo­ple are say­ing bad things about them on­line.” LIFE­LINE 131 114 KIDS HELPLINE 1800 55 1800

Pic­ture: Bruce Long

RIGHT TRACK: St Mar­garet’s stu­dents Ashleigh Pomeroy, Eloise Walker and Is­abel Crock­ett are help­ing to beat cy­ber­bul­lies.

FOR­WARD MOVE: Amy “Dolly” Ev­erett (above and inset left); and (top) Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk meets with Dolly’s par­ents, Tick and Kate Ev­erett.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.