TIME IS UP FOR BULLIES
Taskforce report offers ways to combat scourge
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
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.