Cyberbullying a major problem.
Cyberbullying a major problem.

Claims mum harassed on internet

POLICE are investigating allegations a Northern Rivers mother has been harassed, stalked and bullied on the social networking site, Facebook.

The accusations coincide with the release of a new a report into cyberbullying, which found that social networking sites were the most common online vehicle for bullying - ahead of chat rooms and email.

The woman, from just outside Lismore, has become so distressed by the experience, she is considering taking her children and leaving.

She told The Northern Star she was approached in December through Facebook by someone using a pseudonym.

They tried to ingratiate themselves with her by sharing information they knew would interest her.

When she became suspicious, it turned nasty.

The woman blocked the person as a friend on her Facebook profile, but they had already identified all the people listed as her friends on the site and began sending messages to them.

“They said: 'I'm closer than you think' and 'I'm watching you'.

“Quite serious stuff, like everybody hates me and I should kill myself.”

She formally reported the matter to police on Friday.

The experience has been upsetting for her and her young children, she said.

“Facebook is going to be a huge vehicle for bullying and stalking because of the anonymity they've got and they can do this bullying on a massive scale,” she said.

“It needs to be made fairly clear, as far as policing goes, that it's not appropriate behaviour,” she said.

If the perpetrator was positively identified, she said she may be able to take out an apprehended violence order (AVO) against them.

Richmond Crime Commander Inspector Steve Clarke said it was difficult for police to take action in bullying cases, online or otherwise, until the actions constituted criminal behaviour.

“Bullying itself is not an offence,” he said.

“It's something that we're aware of.

“A lot of the service providers would have some sort of system in place that would allow you to change your contact details,” he advised.

NSW Youth Minister Graham West yesterday released a report by the state Youth Advisory Council which found that cyberbullying could be more damaging than face-to-face bullying.

“The fact that the insults, comments or footage can be preserved either by the person who was bullied or others means that the target may read or view them repeatedly, re-inflicting harm with each reading or viewing,” the report said.

It also found that the anonymity of cyberspace may embolden young people to bully where they may not have otherwise.

It recommended the government educate young people about the issues and impacts, target existing services to deal with cyberbullying, and work with Internet service providers to create a central body for processing complaints.

“I don't know what drives bullies to do what they do, or how we can help defeat them but I do know one thing, we MUST do something to stop them and we MUST do it now!!”

“I've had all kinds of things - from text messages and abusive calls (which were private calls and so therefore could not be tracked) all the way to emails, comments, and other such basic bullying tactics … a friend from school … pretending to be me in several instances.”

“Over the course of three years one girl has fuelled the cyberbullying against me by writing defamatory blogs about my fiance and me … and by convincing her friends to send not only myself, but my other friend rude comments. There have been threats against me.”

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