A TRAINING group meeting in Portland this week has heard that on-line bullying, especially when it’s directed towards indigenous young people, can cause community disruption, loss of self-esteem, even suicide.
The main speaker was Sarah Hayton of the Cybersmart team within the Australian Communications and Media Authority. On her fourth visit to Portland, Ms Hayton said the reach and speed of social media means it’s vital for local communities to keep a close eye on what’s being posted.
“I was in Carnarvon in WA recently, and a young person there had committed suicide apparently as a result of cyber-bullying,” she said. “It’s important to monitor social media to look for warning signs and get help to those who need it.”
She said her message to seven indigenous participants in the Portland program was to be aware that the new technology contains risks. She cited sexting, the practice of posting sexually explicit messages or naked self-images on line, as something which can have consequences such as loss of employment or creating an affront with elders.
“Show respect,” she said, “and keep these things private. This message is true everywhere, including the Gunditjmara community here.”
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