Stand up to cyberbullying

Online help: Caitlin Wood, from Project Rockit, and Telstra's Chris Taylor talk about cyberbullying with Corrimal High School students Alex Robert and Ethan Laughlin-Pearce. Picture: Robert Peet

Online help: Caitlin Wood, from Project Rockit, and Telstra's Chris Taylor talk about cyberbullying with Corrimal High School students Alex Robert and Ethan Laughlin-Pearce. Picture: Robert Peet

When it comes to dealing with cyberbullying, the solution does not lie with technology but with the people using it.

That’s part of the message from Melbourne-based Project Rockit, which is in the Illawarra this week conducting workshops at schools.

On Tuesday, it was the turn of students at Corrimal High School.

Caitlin Wood, head of programs at Project Rockit, said the workshops took an “ethics-based” approach.

Cyberbullying is a technological issue but it’s not just a technological issue, it’s also a social issue. - Caitlin Wood

“We understand cyberbullying is a technological issue but it’s not just a technological issue, it’s also a social issue,” Ms Wood said.

“So technological solutions aren’t going to fix it, it’s really looking at the social solutions.

“How can one student feel empowered to challenge the hate that they see? It’s really coming at cyberbullying from an empathy standpoint, making students want to challenge the hate that they see.

“And also giving them the strategies to know what to do.”

Ms Wood said the workshop wasn’t limited to strategies for those being targeted by cyberbullying. Those watching it take place can also have an effect on making it stop.

“We really focus on what we call the bystander, particularly in an online situation,” she said.

“If there are two people having an issue online there’s going to be 10 if not a hundred people watching it play out.

“It’s those 10, 20, 100 people who have the largest impact to make.

“It’s about using something that makes your tummy turn, that you disagree with and using that to empower you to say something.”

The week of workshops is funded through Telstra’s Kids Digital Futures program.

Telstra area general manager Chris Taylor said, as they were bringing the online world to young people, they wanted them to be aware of the pitfalls.

“Cyberbullying is one of the biggest issues,” Mr Taylor said.

“Up to 20 per cent of kids say that they have been bullied online. Partnering with a organisation like Project Rockit allows us to deliver this program to thousands of kids over the next six months around Australia and give them the tools and confidence to be able to deal with bullying.”

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