Students slam cyber bullying

THE scourge of cyber bullying and its sometimes tragic consequences is being tackled by a group of Catholic high school students determined to take a stand.

‘‘Disconnect and become more connected’’ is the message behind Pius Unplugged, a 48-hour social media blackout campaign devised by the students and teachers of St Pius X High School in Adamstown.

As well as raising awareness of the insidious and prolific nature of cyberbullying, Pius Unplugged will raise money for Kids Helpline which has developed a number of resources to address the issue.

Leading the charge is part-time teacher Elisa Hart, who hopes the campaign will encourage a positive dialogue between teachers, students and parents about cyber bullying.

‘‘Raising awareness about cyber bullying, as well as Kids Helpline, could perhaps change the mindset of our our students and instil in them a greater understanding of the impact of their choices on others,’’ she said.

The campaign will be launched on March 8, and will run from midnight on March 25 to midnight on March 27.

As well as remaining offline for 48 hours, participating students will take a pledge, vowing to be more supportive and positive when accessing social media.

‘‘We are trying to get the kids to understand that their actions in cyberspace affect other people in more ways than they realise,’’ Ms Hart said.

Research suggests that between 7 and 10per cent of year 4 to year 9 students have been cyber bullied over the duration of a school term.

One in five Australian teenagers aged 12 to 17 received hateful messages via their mobile phone or through an internet-based medium during a school year, research shows.

School bullying claim discussed

 By Gabriel Wingate-Pearse

CREATORS of a Facebook site called Revitalising NGS, that  carried allegations of a culture of bullying  at Newcastle Grammar School,  have met with the school board.

Board chairman  John Miller confirmed   a meeting between members of the board and those behind the site was held last week.

‘‘The meeting did occur as the board does often speak to members of the school family, be it students, parents or teachers past or present, and there was a discussion which led to a number of outcomes which are yet to be finalised,’’ Dr Miller said.

The Facebook site was launched on February 5 and Dr Miller invited those posting comments on the Revitalising NGS site to direct their feedback to him and the board instead. The site was de-activated less than 48 hours later.

As well as positive comments and support for a revitalisation process to occur, there were allegations that a  culture of bullying existed at the school, claims denied by school principal Alan Green.

Dr Miller said  the allegations were being taken seriously by the board, which was looking into the issues raised and he hoped to have  concrete outcomes in the near future.

■ AN Australian mental health media initiative started in the Hunter will today co-host a national roundtable on the impact of social media on suicide prevention.

More than 50 representatives from Australia’s leading youth, mental health, media and technology providers will  meet  in Melbourne.

They will look at the risks, challenges and opportunities presented by social media when it comes to promoting mental health and suicide prevention in young people.

The Mindframe National Media Initiative is being managed by the Hunter Institute of Mental 

Health.

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