A preliminary study into bullying has found 14 per cent of female students
aged 11 to 19 were cyber bullied this year.
The study found over half of those students were also bullied face-to-face.
"Far too many Australian children are living in fear of being bullied," said
psychologist and study author, Dr Marilyn Campbell.
Bullying is no longer restricted to the playground or sports field - it has
now entered the home environment through email, websites and mobiles.
"In many ways, cyber bullying is worse than face-to-face bullying, because
it has no geographical boundaries and involves the power of the written
word," she said.
The study of 518 female students found 31 per cent were bullied online or
offline this year. Most of the victims were aged between 12 and 15, and
were more likely to be bullied at 13 years of age.
"We know that girls tend to taunt, ostracise, exclude and rumour monger
more than boys, who are generally more physical," said Dr Campbell.
Bullying can increase anxiety and depression, and can make victims
increasingly mistrustful of other people.
"Victims often think they are to blame. Common thoughts are 'why would
they pick on me?' or 'what is wrong with me?' We need to teach students
that it's the bullies who need to change their behaviour, not the victims."
Dr Campbell said clear bullying policies and procedures are needed in
schools to increase reporting and reduce bullying.
"Students need clear guidelines on who to report bullying to and what will
happen when they report the behaviour."
"Victims and bullies do not need to become friends. However, they do
need to be able to co-exist together in a peaceful way."
Dr Campbell said the study's next phase would analyse the statistics on
boys and bullying.
Dr Campbell will present the study at the 42nd Australian Psychological
Society national conference, 'Psychology Making an Impact,' at the
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre from 25 to 29 September.
Dr Campbell has the following tips for parents to manage bullying:
To coordinate an interview with Dr Campbell, please contact Elaine
Grant on 0412 683 068.