BULLYING: Blame the behaviour NOT the device

By: yourtown 16 Mar Blog, Kids Helpline

Kids Helpline is calling for an increased focus on ‘why’ kids bully rather than technology used this National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

Banning smart phones from children’s lives does not mean bullying behaviour will stop. While there is no doubt digital devices play a part in bullying, in reality it’s not where most bullying takes place.

“Seventy-three percent of contacts to Kids Helpline about bullying in 2017 said it did not include a ‘cyber’ online or texting component,” yourtown CEO Tracy Adams said.

“We need to acknowledge that regardless of how the bullying is done the bullying behaviour is the same and look at ways to unpack, understand and mitigate this.”

More than 3,500 contacts from children and young people to Kids Helpline last were about bullying with seven out of 10 experiencing bullying directly.

“Most kids talking to us about bullying were aged 5-12 with 83% of contacts telling us that bullying related to school,” Ms Adams said.

“The majority of bullying experienced by children and young people involved verbal abuse (26%) or exclusion, isolation and/or spreading of rumours (13%).

“Alarmingly, one in 20 said they endured intimidation, extortion or threats of personal harm (6%) and in 5% of cases physical aggression or assault. Twenty-two (22) percent faced more than one type of bullying at the same time.

“Clearly these statistics are unacceptable with some bullying having devastating effects on young lives now and into the future.

“Bullying behaviours can be due to complex and diverse reasons, including underdeveloped emotional tools and coping mechanisms, limited parent interaction and peer pressure.

“It’s also worth remembering it’s not just children and young people that bully. Some children can pick up on the behaviours of parents and other adults.

“There’s not just one solution to this issue and it’s time we put the energy into delving into the many reasons young people bully and how we as a community can guide positive relationships and behaviours.

“A good first step is thinking of ways to effectively help children and young people resolve conflicts, recognise and manage feelings associated with being confronted and learn how to embrace differences.

“Teaching kids about the positive use of digital technology and social media will ultimately be way more effective than attempting the impossible task of removing digital devices completely or in school environments.”

Kids Helpline is a service of yourtown, we give children and young people choices, support and someone to listen.

Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

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