Parents worry more about cyberbullying than drugs, alcohol

UPDATE 12.30pm: PARENTS are far more concerned about cyberbullying and online safety than they are with drugs and alcohol, according to new research.

Telstra's Schoolyard to Screen study found 40% of Australian parents ranked cyberbullying and bullying among their biggest worries, while 20% said they were concerned their kids would be unsafe using the internet.

This compared to 9% of parents who were worried their child would consume alcohol or try smoking, and 15% of parents who were concerned their child would take drugs.

Telstra has partnered with youth-led movement against bullying, PROJECT ROCKIT, to launch a digital classroom empowering young people to take action on cyberbullying and online safety.

Head of the Telstra Foundation, Jackie Coates, said the online program has come at a time when parents want more help dealing with these issues.

"As a mother of two, with my son starting secondary school this year, I know how significant the issues of cyber safety and cyberbullying are for Australian parents and teenagers," Ms Coates said.

"Our research found that parents want more help dealing with these issues, with two in three (68%) saying more help is needed to educate and empower young people about cyberbullying."

PROJECT ROCKIT was launched in 2006 by Melbourne sisters Lucy and Rosie Thomas, who fresh out of high school saw how much bullying was robbing from their peers and decided to do something about it.

Co-founder Rosie Thomas said their team had delivered workshops to over 200,000 students in more than 500 schools in Australia.

"Through PROJECT ROCKIT Online, we can now reach young people and schools all over Australia. This is especially important in regional and remote areas where we see higher rates of mental health issues, as well as bullying," Ms Thomas said.

"There's no preaching, lecturing or judging - PROJECT ROCKIT celebrates technology, creates real talk about the tough issues and works with young people to come up with safe and cool strategies."

PROJECT ROCKIT Online is an immersive digital experience that engages secondary school students in years 7 to 9 in learning and understanding on the issues of bullying, cyber safety and leadership.


MONDAY 8.30am: ONE in four young people experienced bullying in the past 12 months and were more likely to turn to their parents for support, new figures revealed.

A survey by digital youth mental health organisation ReachOut showed 23% of teens aged 14 to 25 experienced bullying in the past year.

The highest incidence of bullying occurred at school (52%), followed by the online space (25%) and the workplace (25%).

"Starting high school can be a tricky time for students and their parents," ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said.

"There is a new environment to contend with, more students, developmental changes and a bigger workload.

"It can be a time of upheaval for friendships, where young people making the transition to high school may lose touch with close friends and navigate new friendships."

Mr Nicholas said bullying can unfortunately happen wherever young people are.

"This is why we focus on equipping young people and their parents with support and tools so they can be ready to deal with the behaviour," he said.

The survey revealed that of the young people who experienced bullying, around half sought help, with parents the most likely place they turned to for help (48%), followed by peers (33%).

Mr Nicholas said ReachOut resources were available to help parents support their teenagers through experiences of bullying.

To find out what you can do to address bullying, visit or

Tips for parents concerned about bullying

  • Get informed about the avenues for stopping bullying. Schools have anti-bullying policies and are required to respond to bullying incidents. Social media providers are required to remove offensive content or you can contact the Children's e-Safety Commissioner
  • Get to know the school principal and year adviser and ask them about their anti-bullying policy - that way if incidents of bullying arise, it's easy to raise it with them
  • Read up on how to contact social media providers to address cyberbullying and ensure you and your child know how to block, delete or report anyone who is upsetting them online
  • Make an action plan with your teen if they are experiencing bullying - ask for details, when and what is occurring and how it made them feel. Break the action plan into manageable steps and play out possible scenarios.
  • Think about contacting the other child's parents and address the issue between families.

Tips for young people who are experiencing bullying

  • Know that you don't have to put up with bullying. If it's happening to you, tackle it early and don't just hope it'll go away
  • Talk to someone who can do something about it - like your parents, a teacher or principal - and ask them how they will respond
  • Get allies from outside where the bullying is happening - this could be through a job, volunteering, sport, music or other groups and online forums; or spending time with a different group
  • Consider removing yourself from the environment - this may mean changing schools, spending time with a different group or leaving a job

When you see someone else being bullied, you can let them know they're not alone. Write them a private message to let them know you're thinking of them, invite them to sit with you, choose to be their partner in class or go for a walk with them. If it continues, report it to someone in authority.

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