Booragul tackles angst in a digital age

CYBERBULLYING, sexting, social-media stress, predators and the end of privacy as we know it.

The digital world can be treacherous for young people and a minefield for school principals.

St Paul’s High School, a Catholic school at Booragul, is taking part this month in the federal government’s 2012 youth advisory group on cybersafety.

The school’s principal, Tony Stevens, said cyberbullying often involved derogatory comments on Facebook and rumour spreading.

‘‘Sometimes sexting gets used as another form of bullying, as a threat or harassment,’’ Mr Stevens said.

The digital landscape had made ‘‘bullying a 24-hour-a-day possibility’’.

Students were advised to be ‘‘very careful what they post online’’.

‘‘They might think they have deleted something, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone forever,’’ he said.

Charlton MP Greg Combet said the school’s students were ‘‘talking to the government on a secure online website, using blogs, discussion forums, quizzes and polls’’.

“This feedback informs the government’s approach to cybersafety, so we can teach kids to be safe while they’re online,’’ Mr Combet said.

Mr Stevens said cyber education was part of the school’s syllabus and experts were often hired to give student talks.

Police could be brought in for serious matters.

‘‘A police liaison officer can come in, not to arrest or charge but advise,’’ he said.

‘‘They can sit in on interviews, so students and parents understand the legalities. Kids will listen to them a lot more than they’ll listen to us.’’

Safety Tips

Tips to help children safely use social networking sites, mobile phones or online games

¦ There is no such thing as safe sexting

¦ Use privacy settings

¦ Keep your passwords secret

¦ Think before you post

¦ Look after each other online

¦ Download the federal government’s Cybersafety Help Button

Source: federal government’s easy guide to socialising online

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