KALIANNA Special School has a new approach to cyber-bullying, adopting a strategy which has been implemented with proven success in Queensland.
Kalianna are one of three schools around Victoria to take on Stop Harrassing Me Postcards, in which victims of cyber-bullying can fill out a postcard with school staff members once the behaviour has been verified.
This postcard is delivered to the cyber-bully, explaining to them that their actions are unwelcome, may be illegal and should stop immediately. If the behaviour continues, the victim may choose to make a formal complaint to the police under the offence of “use of a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence”.
Kalianna’s social worker Sue Mollgaard and student learning co-ordinator Deb Price worked with Bendigo police’s family violence adviser Sergeant Margaret Singe to adopt the program at the school. Ms Singe said often children found it hard to tell their parents about cyber-bullying.
“We’ve had an increase in youth suicides and quite often the parents don’t know what happens,” she said. “I think the Stop Harassing Me program gives the youths the opportunity to be able to tell someone, and that it will be actioned.
“Sometimes it’s easier to tell a teacher than tell mum and dad.”
Ms Mollgaard said the school was teaching their students to take photos of Facebook comments on their phone so they have documented proof of the bullying before it is deleted.
She said they would trial the initiative for 12 months and hoped other schools jumped on board.
Kalianna student Georgia said she believed the new program would be a big deterrent.
“I think it will make bullies realise what they are doing when they pick on people over Facebook, Twitter and text messaging.”