“YOU are not official friends until you are Facebook friends” is a commonly used phrase, but social networking sites are increasingly becoming more than just a networking site.
Instead, they are being used as a platform for bullying.
St Patrick’s principal Max Martin recently wrote about the issue of cyber bullying in the school’s newsletter.
He wrote that cyber bullying had “risen its ugly head” at the school and although it was occurring out of school time, it still affected what was happening at school.
Mr Martin explained there were two kinds of cyber bullying: direct attacks through messages sent directly and by proxy, and using others to help cyber bullying the victim either with or without the accomplice’s knowledge.
“All ages should be taught about respect for others and to communicate in an appropriate way,” Mr Martin said.
“This isn’t just about cyber bullying, it is about how kids and people interact with each other whether on the internet or in the tuckshop line.
“Like most schools, we educate about appropriate behaviours. Ultimately, actual issues that occur fall outside of school hours are the responsibility of parents to monitor.
“Young people need to be supported and taught how to use it appropriately as it will ‘not go away’ as a communication tool so we need to teach how to use it.
“We can teach appropriate ways of using Facebook etcetera but ultimately, since it is a communication tool only able to be used at home, parents have the responsibility of monitoring.”
Emerald Senior Constable Kellie Silvester backed up Mr Martin’s comments and said although it was hard to monitor kids’ social networking, parents needed to be more involved as cyber bullying wasn’t acceptable.
Snr Const Silvester has been raising awareness at Marist College of the criminal offences involved in misusing social networking sites.
She gave a powerpoint presentation to all students and concentrated on appropriate use of modern technology and general forms of communication and what the consequences were when used inappropriately.
She said she was also able to clarify and answer questions the students had.
“It raised so many questions, particularly in relation to sexual act offences, which were clarified,” she said.
“Main one being it is illegal to have any type of sexual activity under the age of 16, even if both parties are consensual.
“We are trying to promote and look after their future. By future we mean having a criminal record that may effect life in many ways ...(in terms of a) future job, licence, travel and social status.”
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