Sib­lings en­dured bul­lies

Sunday Herald Sun - - News -

IN films, the stalker is typ­i­cally a shad­owy fig­ure who lurks in bushes or stealth­ily tip-toes be­hind their prey.

But with chil­dren now spend­ing more time in “on­line play­grounds”, through phone apps and so­cial me­dia, par­ents are find­ing it more dif­fi­cult to spot the real dan­gers.

Gipp­s­land sib­lings Matilda, 12, and Brock, 14, said they were lucky to have sup­port from their teach­ers and par­ents when teas­ing es­ca­lated to bul­ly­ing and then stalk­ing.

Matilda was in grade 3 when she be­gan be­ing fol­lowed and tor­mented by other girls.

The per­sis­tent pes­ter­ing lasted six months and the once-bub­bly young­ster be­came with­drawn and afraid to go to school.

“I felt scared be­cause they were al­ways there,” she said.

“I don’t think any­one de­serves that.”

Now in grade 6, Matilda has wit­nessed bul­ly­ing move from the school­yard to on­line where it is more dif­fi­cult for par­ents to mon­i­tor ac­tiv­ity.

Par­ents Leigh and Kelly said they tried to re­main open with their chil­dren and thought it im­por­tant to stay up to date with new apps.

They backed their chil­dren’s school’s de­ci­sion to ban phones at lunchtime and re­cess.

“We’ve al­ways told them to be hon­est with us and that they can al­ways come to us,” Kelly said.

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