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Victim speaks out as concerns reignite about cyber bullying

WHILE it takes no courage to act brave behind the keyboard, cyber bullying has very tangible consequences.

In the wake of Charlotte Dawson's death last weekend, concerns have been reignited over the safety of internet users of all ages and backgrounds.

It is a permeating past-time, where a web of communication infects every aspect of our lives - the borderless internet.

>> Act of bullying more cowardly now they can hide online

By allowing users to mask themselves behind false identities, pseudonyms and anonymity, power is given to online trolls.

Ally Pickering was the victim of relentless bullying online and via text message late last year.

It is so difficult to remind yourself that responding to the attacks only gives them power.

The 17-year-old student, who felt she could not escape her online attackers, is now an advocate for how to combat online bullies, beginning with a call to boycott Facebook page Gladstone Open Discussion.

"I want people to know that cyber bullying is unfortunately something we all have to equip ourselves against now, and G.O.D is a good example of daily cyber-bullying around here," she said.

"It's easy to say, 'Just turn it off', but as a teenager you feel further removed from your friends and classmates that way."

Miss Pickering said the majority of attacks she endured were from sources unknown, calling for her to "drown herself", "lock yourself in the corridor of the endless third dimension" and simple, belligerent insults such as "filthy s***".

"It is so difficult to remind yourself that responding to the attacks only gives them power," she said.

"It sounds cliche, but these are leeches. No guts, just blood suckers feeding off the emotional energy of others."

Miss Pickering fears for the future of online safety, saying she wished she had grown up in a time without invasive technology surrounding her, and believes the problem will only get worse.

After receiving counselling for depression and conflict management, the Tannum Sands resident says she realises the triviality of cyber bullying, and only wishes the late Charlotte Dawson had received the same support.

"There is a very strong message through her death. She was 30 years older than me, but maturity did not protect her."

Facts

Cyber bullying is a crime under Queensland and/or national legislation when:

  • Using a phone or the internet to make threats, harass or offend
  • Stalking has occurred
  • Internet accounts are accessed without permission
  • Defamatory claims have been made
  • A post encourages suicide

Individuals, parents and kids can inform themselves about legal rights, dangers and support available at thinkuknow.org.au

Guarding your privacy online a must - and don't join every argument

WE all value our physical privacy.

The underlying message for online safety is to remain consistent, and guard the privacy of your online presence with the same vigilance.

In light of recent circumstances, an online petition is circling the internet to create positive change in enforcing tougher cyber bullying legislation - dubbed Charlotte's Law.

Those who maintain a regular online presence need to do so with a thick skin, and a sensibility not to join every argument they are invited to.

Alfonso Canendo, a regular contributor on Gladstone Open Discussion,  says social media can have adverse implications.

"Social media can be extremely powerful as a means to influence people to thought and action as in social movements, or it can be light as fluff and (a) meaningless waste of time," he said.

"Even adults can be easily offended, like in the schoolyard, on social media. Hardcore trolling can easily cross the line and police should be called. Social media can be a conduit that can sway the masses good or bad."

  • Record the evidence. Take screenshots, or print outs with documented dates and times. This will strengthen a case if taken to the police;
  • Report it to the website or phone company;
  • Block the bully;
  • Talk to someone you know or call Lifeline 131 114.

Topics:  charlotte dawson, cyber bullying, gladstone, social media



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