More talk about bullying

March 23, 2018

The days are gone where unfortunate instances of bullying of students were contained to the school grounds.

The continued development of the internet and rise of social media platforms has only served to exacerbate the already insidious problem.

Where the home was once a safe haven for affected students to retreat after a tough day at school, online has opened up the potential for harassment to happen at all hours.

The devastating story in today’s News about Cobram girl Amanda Grennan, who took her own life last year after what her mother described as relentless bullying, shows the real and tragic impacts.

For Deb Langshaw to share her story in such a public way would, no doubt, have been an extremely difficult and heart-wrenching thing to do.

But her courage to do so should be praised — she is motivated by the hope that by her coming forward, she can save other families from going through what she is experiencing.

Other families have similarly come forward to campaign against bullying and harassment, including the parents of Dolly Everett, 14, from the Northern Territory who took her own life.

A national study in 2009 showed about 25 per cent of Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students reported being bullied at least every few weeks.

This is staggering and shows there is a long way to go in the quest to combat this problem.

Anti-bullying initiatives such as the Victorian Government’s Safe Schools program and the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence are doing their bit to address the situation.

But this is only a small part of the bigger picture.

The issue cannot be solved overnight and tragedies like this show there is a long way to go.

It is so important stories such as Amanda’s, as difficult as they are, are told in the overall conversation of bullying to highlight the potential for devastating outcomes.

Regular and consistent messaging about the dangers of bullying is needed.

With continued education and awareness around these issues, it is heart-breaking stories like Amanda’s that everyone can play a part in to prevent in the future.

Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for children and young people aged five to 25.

Free call 1800551800 or visit the website, www.kidshelpline.com.au

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