Schools act to raise bar on cyber safety

Illawarra schools are taking steps to reduce cyber bullying and make students aware of their rights and responsibilities online.

While most students do the right thing in the digital space, there can be serious consequences when they abuse their online privileges.

On Saturday, the Mercury reported on 15-year-old Kiama schoolgirl Courtney Love, who took her own life in 2012 after being relentlessly cyber bullied.

With the online world a crucial part of students' education and lives, schools across the region run workshops for students and parents on cyber bullying, cyber safety and appropriate online behaviour, often facilitated by outside experts such as the school liaison police officer.

Holy Spirit College principal Amanda Wilson said these presentations had been particularly effective at the school.

"Our issues and problems have dropped significantly over the past two years since we've been doing it in this much more integrated fashion," she said.

A spokeswoman from the Wollongong Catholic Education Office said diocesan schools had a number of resources to address cyber bullying and were encouraged to download the "cyber safety help button" to computers.

"If there is a close nexus with the school and students in the school, then the school has a duty of care and responsibility to respond."

Dapto High School deputy principal Darcey Moore said rather than focusing specifically on cyber bullying, the school taught students about being a good "digital citizen".

Students at Dapto can also send screenshots of online messages that concern them, no matter what time they are received, to the deputy principal for appropriate action to be taken.

"The reason we do that is it's a 24/7 world.

"A problem that happens at 10 o'clock or nine o'clock at night has a way of re-emerging at school in first period or recess," he said.

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