Chapter 10 Whole-of-school community
The promotion of cyber-safety is inescapably a broad community issue. The
need for a whole-of-school approach is demonstrated by the assertion from Principals
Australia that schools have only 30 percent influence over young people’s
The Australian Council of Educational Research also supported the idea
of a multi-layered approach, involving schools, parents/carers and the
community, to manage online safety effectively. The central role of this
approach is to improve the confidence of teachers to use the Internet; to model
appropriate behaviour, and to require school policies in cyber-safety, and
Research from the American Online Safety and Technology Working Group
reported that a multi-layered approach is required from schools, parents/carers
and the community to establish accepted online behaviour, and that young people
need to be taught digital literacy skills.
An example of a whole-of-school approach is the NSW Government
implementation of MindMatters: a whole-of-school approach to mental
health promotion. It includes modules to foster the development of social and
emotional skills, and encourages effective home, school and community
partnerships. Since 2007, cyber-safety has been a focus of the bullying and
harassment arm of the project.
While it is not the only such program that has been introduced in
Australia, the Australian Council for Educational Research was one of a number
of organisations that endorsed the value of the Cyber-safety and Well-Being
Initiative (eSmart Schools Framework, hereafter eSmart)
undertaken by the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. This is an initiative for
cultural change and community-based intervention, aimed at creating
environments where it is easy and normal for individuals to make smart choices
when using technology. eSmart focuses on a ‘whole-school’ approach to
cyber-safety problems, and provides a suite of tools to assist schools; it is a
culture and behaviour change model targeted at the whole school community and,
as such, is not a one-off lesson, unit of work, program or policy that sits in
isolation from the day-to-day business of schools.
It was argued that, for it to be effective, a whole-of-school approach
had to involve teachers, including those in the pre-service phase, support
staff, administrators and parents/carers/carers. This meant professional
development, time release and workload management for school staff, especially
A member of the ACT Safe Schools Taskforce was quoted as observing that
parents/carers must be involved ‘at all parts of the journey’:
Cybersafety isn’t like teaching your child to ride a bike.
It’s not a skill that you had when you were younger and that you can pass on to
your child. It’s an area where things are changing so much, so quickly, that as
a parent you need constant reiteration and updating and strategies to protect
The Australian Parents Council believed that the element missing from
the efforts made to develop consistent ‘whole school’ approaches to
cyber-safety appeared to be the systematic engagement of parents/carers. This
was despite the fact that their engagement is essential to those efforts.
Similarly, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation advised that:
Parents, and to a lesser extent teachers, feel overwhelmed
and ignorant about what’s going on in social networking sites, chat rooms,
online gaming and other areas in cyberspace. Teachers believe parents should take
a lot more responsibility for their children’s behaviour (both online and
offline). Parents (and teachers) would like to know more about the virtual
spaces young people inhabit, but don’t know where to start. Both groups believe
their ignorance has led to an unhealthy power shift, so that young people are
too easily able to operate ‘under the radar’, or outside the usual boundaries
governing their behaviour.
The role that parents play in the cyber-safety education of their
children cannot be understated. Not only does the family unit play an important
educative role, but also a key supportive role when young people face
cyber-safety risks and dangers. Figures 10.1 to 10.3 present the results from
the Committee’s Are you safe? survey and provide details of this
Figure 10.1 Where did you learn about cyber-safety?
Figure 10.2a Do you talk about cyber-safety with your parents? (Female
aged 12 years and younger)
Figure 10.2b Do you talk about cyber-safety with your parents? (Male
aged 12 years and younger)
Table 10.1 How frequently does your family talk about
Figure 10.3a How
frequently does your family talk about cyber-safety? (Female aged 13 years
Yes, when I ask
Figure 10.3b How frequently does your family talk about cyber-safety? (Male
aged 13 years and over)
Information for parents/carers
The Family Online Safety Institute commented that:
There has never been a time when so many resources have been
available for parents, grandparents, teachers, and care-givers to provide
protection from online risks. All of the major operating systems and search
engines provide family safety settings and mobile operators, social networks,
and Internet Service Providers offer tools and settings to help protect
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released the
Cybersmart parents: connecting parents to cybersafety resources. Dr Helen
McGrath commented on the quality of its materials:
The ACMA materials are brilliant. I cannot recommend them
highly enough. There are very few resources and presentations that you hear
rave reviews about wherever you go. The ACMA materials are raved about. They
are terrific to recommend to parents.
The ACT Council of P&C Associations believe that parents/carers know
that information is available but not necessarily aware of where to go to find
it and called for:
the government advertises the
ACMA website better to parents/carers as well as other resources and their
potential use. It is recommended that television and/or radio advertisement is
used, as well as advertising through schools.
The Victorian Office of the Child Safety Commissioner, however, expressed
concern that many of the resources available for parents/carers,
require a high degree of literacy skills and an understanding
of English. This inquiry provides an opportunity to explore which parents/carers
and carers are not able to use these resources and to make recommendations
about how to more effectively empower such parents/carers and carers to support
The Australian Parents Council emphasised that there is a plethora of
if you were to google ‘cybersafety’, you would be daunted by
the range of information. Parents do not know how to be discretionary about
what is worthwhile, what is serious and what is not.
The Queensland Secondary Principals Association has found that as ‘more
and more students are certainly online, more and more parents are certainly
online’. Parents/carers, however,
use these technologies in vastly different ways from their children, and these
differences can cause concern and divisions among families:
Young people used technologies much more holistically; to
communicate, learn, socialise, play, research, do homework, and in fact, their
on-line life blended seamlessly with their offline life. Parents felt a lack of
control because they did not fully understand how their children used
technologies and cited threat from predators as their greatest fear ...
Children and young people on the other hand were dismissive of their parents'
and teachers’ fears and cited their biggest issues as slow internet and
Brisbane Catholic Education requires that parents attend cyber-safety
information sessions before laptops are distributed under the Digital Education
Revolution. These strategies can be
effective, as children often want to engage with their parents:
One of the things we know from research in Europe is that
children and young people actually want to discuss this issue with their parents
but they are put off from doing that because their parents do not have the
technological savviness to have that discussion.
The NSW Parent’s Council added that:
Even though there are numerous websites full of advice to
assist parents in ensuring safety along with the obvious benefits of ICT, this
advice is often difficult to put into place and to continue to monitor.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is of the view that:
Children and young people on the other hand were dismissive
of their parents' and teachers’ fears and cited their biggest issues as slow
internet and viruses. However, further probing revealed that nearly all young
people interviewed had experienced or witnessed cyberbullying and considered it
common and extremely unpleasant.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation also believed that:
Young people are less apt to share or disclose with parents
who don’t appear to understand or care what their children are doing online.
Young people can, however, have a key role in educating parents about their
lived online experience – one that, it appears, they are keen to assume.
Parents/carers should also be made aware of the range of available
resources that can assist them to manage their children’s internet use.
The Foundation considers that programs should encourage the need to have clear
understandings and agreements within the family about acceptable internet and
mobile phone usage and to maintain open communication with their children about
Many children and young people are reluctant to tell their parents
about cyberbullying and other forms of online abuse fearing that access to
their social networks will be removed. Parents need to be supported to
communicate effectively with their children on mobile phone and internet use
(gaming, chat rooms, messages, keeping personal details private, voice masking,
responding to unwelcome attention, combating addiction).
While schools have a role in educating students about cyber-safety, this
must be balanced against the main purposes of schooling, the role of parents/carers
and the responsibility of the community. Parents/carers are the
primary educators of children, and they:
need to educate themselves on
how to protect their children, and to have greater access to resources and
experts to assist with this education. Many school libraries are already
working within their schools to offer sessions to parents, and public libraries
are reaching out not only to parents but also to the whole community.
Childnet has developed the Know IT All for Parents resource which
is interactive and provided available in different formats and languages which
has been provided to two million parents in the United Kingdom as of June 2010.
Similarly, ACMA has now launched the new parent interactive resources in the
top five non-English languages: Chinese, Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Arabic.
Cyber safety education and training needs to start with parents
of preschool aged children ... It needs to be undertaken at a time when parents
still might know more about the online world than their child does ... It needs
to be part of the requirement of educating children in Australia and be
attended by at least one parent of all pre-school aged and school aged children.
The Australian Parents Council explained that, if material is not in a
format appropriate for parents, these resources may not be read:
all too often with initiatives such as this national
initiative organisations and government try to do things to and for parents
instead of taking an approach of doing it with them. There are often attempts
made to communicate with parents which, with all the best intent, try to get a
message across but all too often it is not in language that is accessible to parents.
Whilst you do not need to talk down to parents, it is a very difficult art to
frame stuff up in a language that is accessible to parents across the board
without being either patronising or talking at such a simple level that you
Evidence provided to the Inquiry by ACMA drew attention to the range of its
resources that could assist parents/carers to manage their children’s internet
At the present time we have parents who themselves have had
an unhappy or unsatisfactory education, who are fearful of being engaged or
unable to engage, who feel disempowered or not valued ... In many ways schools
operate very comfortably in middle-class communities and do not serve the needs
and interests of those who have not had positive education experiences.
The Victorian Office of the Child Safety Commissioner would also like to
see work done in relation to collaboration between those with expertise in information
and communications technology (ICT) and those caring for vulnerable children to
develop strategies to meet the needs of those children.
for some parents and caregivers it may be an issue of
ignorance and naivety about their child’s safety on the internet; however that
for most parents and caregivers it was purely a matter of not knowing how to
approach the topic ... parents and caregivers need to be educated about the
importance of, and “how to”, have conversations with their kids about cyber
The following comments were made by respondents to the Committee’s Are
you safe? survey in response to the ways to improve the cyber-safety of
parents react very differently to the way teachers would,
often dismissing the idea that the bullying is a real issue but a threatening
email is immensely scary especially when the person involved had never really
felt that anything had come between them face to face. Also it takes a
while for young people to realise what a true friend is and build up the
courage to cut their losses and join a new friend group where they are
accepted (Female aged 17).
Children are heavily influenced by their parents. Educate
the parents first and most of all make sure they are being good role models
for their kids (Female aged 15).
I would feel safer if I knew my parents could see more
that goes on. I tell them but sometimes people put real bad stuff (Female
parent education that is detailed enough to include the
benefits of social networking to encourage them to get involved as well
(Female aged 17).
Parents being more responsible with chn and ICT (Female
Parents checking up on what their children are saying
online (Female aged 13).
Parents monitoring their children more online and giving
them good Internet habits and understanding from a young age (Female aged
parents need to be aware that some of their children are
the bully/a nasty child and these children can manipulate them (Female aged
The NSW Secondary Principals Council would like parents/carers to be provided
with the tools to manage the online environment at home:
where less rigid filters and controls are often in place.
www.cybersmart.gov.au is a good start but needs wider advertising to parents
and further development and expansion
There are many free filtering options. Between 40 and 50 percent of parents/carers
already use some type of filtering, indicating a level of awareness and
The Australian Psychological Society would like to see the establishment
of an information and/or referral service to provide advice on best practice
technology such as internet filtering systems. Similarly, ninemsn
Parents need to be adequately informed as to what products
are available and how best to configure and use them in a way most appropriate
for their family. ninemsn believes this presents a valuable opportunity for
industry and government to work collaboratively on promoting the availability
of these tools. There are some helpful examples of best practice of this cooperative
approach emerging from the US and UK.
Dr Gerald White commented that it is ‘not hard to engage parents in
relation to technological devices’ and, if you require parents to sign a user
access policy, they will be engaged. The use of user access
agreements provides an opportunity to encourage parents to attend cyber-safety
Netbox Blue advised that:
Most of these tools are relatively simple to deploy. The
question is: which are the right tools that parents/carers should be using? The
idea of accrediting tools through things like the IIA and the family friendly
filter accreditation I think is really key, so that parents/carers know which
tools are going to meet their needs and which tools are not. Getting that
message across is perhaps the most important thing. You can do it via expensive
advertising on TV or whatever or it could be as simple as sticking leaflets in
schoolkids’ bags for them to take home.
Some parents/carers may not worry in the belief that schools will arrange
cyber-safety for their young people and are therefore not engaged. They may have
an antipathy towards the school, or they do not see that they have a role:
Once you can start to talk to parents/carers and tell them
that they have a role and the way that they can fulfil that role—some simple
things that they can do to actively engage—the results are quite astounding.
Some parents/carers trust their children and do not see a need for this
Parents tend to assume that their children know what they are
doing and to think that they are monitoring their children if they have the
computer in the same room as they are currently in, but they do not realise
that children can downsize the screen if they are doing something wrong and that
they might panic and not bring to their parents’ attention that something has
However, BraveHearts made the point that:
...while it is notionally true that parents and carers must
take ultimate responsibility for educating and protecting their children, it is
also true that the internet and new communication technologies are becoming
increasingly foreign to many parents thus reducing their ability to protect
their children. The reality is that more often than not, children know more
about the internet and mobile phone technologies than adults do. Continuing
calls for parents to educate themselves are falling on the predominately ‘out
of their depth’, baffled and frightened ears of parents and carers.
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies stated that parents and
carers need access to information to enable them to make informed decisions
about cyber-safety issues and this could entail:
Awareness raising strategies;
Resources and information on prevalent and emerging cyber-safety
Resources on how to approach and discuss these issues with
children and young people; and
Information on interventions and supports.
The desirable outcomes are empowered parents/carers and families that:
Are able to understand cyber-safety issues and the impact that it
has on their child or young person;
Feel comfortable enough to discuss cyber-safety issues with their
child or young person; and
Know what actions to take or where to go to for more information
The Family Online Safety Institute emphasised that:
Parents must learn about the risks themselves and then help
their children learn how to cope with them ... There is no silver bullet to
protect children from the risks of digital media, only a combination of
education, awareness, tools, and rules will help guard children from harmful
content and empower them to act responsibly online.
Ongoing education for parents/carers is important to keep them up to
The other comment that I have that I think is important is
that one-offs do not work, so the learning for parents and the opportunities
have to be regular, they have got to be spaced and they have got to be
purposeful. The parents are more likely to engage with their school or their
child’s teacher and indeed the child’s learning if they can see a role for
themselves. It is really important that the approach is one of partnering, not
one of being the expert.
The ACT Council of P&C Associations suggested further measures to
assist parents in keeping up with technology and current trends.They may not be aware of the resources available and
an advertising campaign may increase the level of awareness.
ABS statistics found that most
parents/carers were taking steps to protect their child/ren online. 88 percent
of ACT families educated their child/ren about safe and appropriate use of the
internet, 58 percent of parents/carers had installed content filters while 93
percent said they supervised and monitored their child/ren’s use of the
The Council also suggested annual information sessions for parents to
keep up to date.
... many concerns were raised
about the potential threat of cyber-bullying, identity theft, downloading a
virus and the risks involved with accessing SNS or chat forums and the
potential for their child to talk to someone who is different to who they say
they are. Parents seemed to be less concerned about the potential for their
child to access sites that encouraged illegal or harmful behaviour or accessing
inappropriate material. Interestingly, the most common issue reported by
children who used the internet was accessing inappropriate material.
At the beginning of National Cybersecurity Awareness Week, in June 2011,
the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator the
Hon Stephen Conroy, noted that members of the newly formed Teachers’ and
Parents’ Advisory Group on Cybersafety are involved in consultations on how to
keep young Australians safe online.
Household media rules
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation is of the view that programs should
encourage the need to have clear understandings and agreements within the
family about acceptable internet and mobile phone usage and to maintain open
communication with their children about issues arising.
Parents need support in engaging with online media such as
Facebook, Skype and Twitter right throughout the school years not just
voluntary sessions provided by the local council and youth service.
The Communications Law Centre called for:
Educational campaigns specifically in respect of social
networking and communications tools available over the internet should be
offered to parents and carers of children.
The Australian Council on Children and the Media commented that:
parents just don’t know where to draw the line’. It is not
that you do not care or that you do not know what is going on, but you can feel
that tug in two directions. You want your child to be modern, to have access to
all the best modern technology and to be up with all the information like all
their friends are, but you do not want them to be harmed, and finding that
balance is something that is really quite difficult. Parents need the best
support we can give them, and that really needs to come through information but
also through that regulatory back stop—that idea of, ‘No, there are some areas
that we just do not go in as a society, because we think that children are just
far too important and it is not fair or realistic to put all of the burden on parents.
The Family Online Safety Institute believed that parents/carers should
encourage household media rules which set limits on the time spent online and
Parents should understand what they are giving permission to
when allowing children to access internet sites from Club Penguin to Facebook
and everything in between.
The Communications Law Centre called for additional services :
on the methods in which children interact, socialise and network over the
internet and mobile phones to assist them more effectively to discuss cyber-bullying issues with their children.
A Microsoft Australia survey found that:
Alarmingly, one fifth of all Australian parents surveyed had
caught their children looking at inappropriate material online, almost one
third had found their children chatting to strangers, 36 percent had caught
their kids downloading software without permission and another 12 percent had
found their children handing over personal details.
In setting the media rules, this will open discussions on what young
people are doing online. The NSW Primary
Principal’s Associated noted:
The home environment is often a cause for concern. Parents
may not be aware of safeguards that can be put in place. These include
computers being placed in areas where parents can provide direct supervision,
filters such as Net Nanny being installed on home computers, time limits being
set related to computer/ internet use, regular open communication between
children and parents regarding inappropriate use of the internet and specific
issues related to social networking sites. 
Parents/carers indicated to the ACT Council of P&C Associations that
they feel they lack the ability to successfully
control their child’s online behaviour and activity and believe that their
efforts are mostly ineffective. The Council suggested that:
parents/carers be provided
with easy to understand user guides on sites that are popular among children.
For example, parents/carers should be provided access to a user guide on how to
change your child’s privacy settings on Facebook, how to make a complaint about
inappropriate or offensive material on sites such as Facebook or suggestions of
appropriate sites that are safe for children to stream video content, as well
as other important tips and advice about safe sites and use of a variety of
internet sites that are popular among children.
Some information is already available. For example, the Australian
Direct Marketing Association provides the following tips for parents:
Know what your children are doing online—make sure they know how
to stay safe and encourage them to tell you if they come across anything
suspicious or if anybody says or does something that makes them feel
uncomfortable or threatened;
Get to know the technologies your children are using;
Discuss the risks with your children and agree on some rules for
Tell your children if they are uncomfortable talking to you they
can contact the Cybersmart Online Helpline (Kids Helpline)
Place the computer in a family area of the home;
Install an internet content filter;
Make sure your children know not to share personal information or
Report inappropriate, harmful or criminal activities that occur
online or via a mobile device to www.thinkuknow.org.au; and
Report offensive content to ACMA.
Vodafone also have a digital parenting guides which include how to set
up your Facebook privacy settings in four easy steps along with tips on what to
do which is a model which could be adapted here.
The ACT Council of P&C Associations called for greater collaboration
between schools and parents better to educate parents on how to protect their
ACMA’s Click and Connect report found that,
Parents/carers tend to
re-enforce the basic internet safety messages with a stronger focus on the
issue of predators rather than the broader range of safety issues. Both schools
and parents/carers currently appear to work in isolation in informing children
about cybersafety, although parents/carers did show interest in a more
collaborative approach with schools.
The Tasmanian Department of Education advised:
... if the child wants the parent to be there they are more
likely to come along and in that way you can reach out to some of those parents
who would be most at risk in terms of not being able to support their child
through acceptable use of technologies. That is the same pattern across a range
of issues within education ... which is that being inclusive and supportive to
help parents rather than just a big stick or mandating approach is the way to
The capacity of the school to involve parents/carers may reflect the
inherent capabilities of the principals and teachers, rather than on training
and support policies. Some parents/carers
would also like to have a greater input:
I recently received a letter requesting my children to fill
in an online questionnaire regarding cyber bullying. As parents, we are
generally the ones that are required to make the rules and enforce them with
relation to our children’s online internet usage. I would therefore think that
the necessity of having a questionnaire seeking parents/carers views and
concerns on this matter would be of equal importance to that of our children’s,
as we are ultimately the people charged with looking after our children’s
wellbeing in this respect.
The Australian Parents Council has found that cyber-safety nights for parents/carers
are often very popular, indicating that this is a significant area of concern
Parents are key to preventing cyber-bullying and to
addressing it when their children are victims or perpetrators. Many parents/carers
miscalculate the amount of time their child spends on the Internet, or are
simply unaware of their child’s computer usage.
Some schools in America use parent-teacher interviews to set goals and
agree on the role of the parent in achieving these goals.
... they are actually engaging with their children’s
education and establishing an environment of support for their children’s
learning. They are more than willing to be a part of that and love being a part
Too often, it believed, governments tried to do things to and for parents/carers,
instead of doing these things with them. While it is difficult to frame
communications at appropriate levels, often material is presented in language
that is not accessible.
The Australian Parents Council made the point that parental engagement:
is not about parents being at the school. You can express
that engagement in so many other ways: simply by being interested, by reading
the newsletter and by communicating in other ways. We need to bear that in mind
when we are looking at an approach. It does not mean being on the premises.
There are some parents/carers who will not come to schools, especially
to be informed about technological matters or cyber-safety. This can be because
they do not have time, or because they lack knowledge or confidence about the
Parents/carers can be involved in other ways:
The New South Wales education department sends around
cybertips for parents for the holidays, which I think is a terrific direction
as well. There are a few things they can watch and keep an eye on in a positive
SuperClubs Australia also does an interesting thing. That is
a private organisation. It is something the Victorian education department
adopts. They get the students to interview their parents to find out how much
the parents know about cybersafety. This is a primary aged direction to tap
into what their parents know and educate their parents as they go. I think that
is another clever way of doing it. Again it is going to be the sum of many
small moves with parents.
The Australian Parents Council suggested that national groups of parents/carers
are in a position to tap the significant potential for greater engagement in
cyber-safety issues, through:
conducting a national survey to assist in understanding levels of
awareness about cyber-safety risks;
discovering cyber-safety strategies they are adopting in their
development of a leaflet for parents/carers incorporating
principles of digital citizenship and best practice; and
a national meeting of parents’/carers’ groups to design and
distribute a charter as a guide to use of the Internet and digital platforms.
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy referred
to a study that found that about 70 percent of parents/carers are very
concerned or fairly concerned about cybersafety.
Simon Fraser University reported no correlation between the extent of
supervision and the parents’ degree of technological knowledge and level of
parental concern about cyber-bullying. Further, a survey by
Microsoft Australia found that:
two thirds of Australian parents/carers were concerned about
the safety of their kids online, and more than 60 percent of parents/carers
allowed their children to surf the net unsupervised and unrestricted at home. 
It also found that:
- More than two thirds
of Australian parents/carers admitted they knew only a few of their children‘s
- Another 11 percent
admitted they were totally in the dark, knowing none of their children‘s online
- Only half of all parents/carers
(58 percent) housed the computer in a public area of the home;
- 20 percent of parents/carers
had not discussed online safety with their children;
- More than 60 percent
of parents/carers were aware their computer had parental control software
available – yet less than a third of all parents/carers monitored their
children‘s activity online.
The Australian Psychological Society suggested that:
... parents/carers are educated and supported to use an
internet filter (without relying solely on this strategy), to discuss and use
the internet with children and encourage them to evaluate critically
information accessed online, to monitor and supervise their child’s
internet/phone use, and to involve young people in deciding appropriate limits
and agreeing on age appropriate consequences.
Conditions of use agreements
The Australian Parents Council expressed concerns about the level of
awareness of the 95 percent of Tasmanian parents signing ‘conditions of use’
forms for their young people, and what that might mean for their
responsibilities as parents. Research was needed about whether they understand
what they signed, and why the other 5 percent do not sign these forms.
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation believed that:
Australian schools also have much ground to make up in
producing robust acceptable use policies that reach beyond the school gate to
include parents and the wider community.
Netbox Blue recommend promoting and enforcing ‘Acceptable Use’ policies:
The creation of an acceptable policy framework and its
communication to all stakeholders - students, teachers, parents and carers;
Education for all stakeholders on minimising known risks, or
dealing with them if presented with a situation that places them at risk,
focusing on working with students, teachers, parents and carers;
Technology enforcement – in and outside the school network on all
school owned equipment; and
Regular reviews of attempts to breach such policy frameworks to
improve education and to manage individual behavioural issues.
Parent advisory body
In Queensland, there is a parent advisory body:
for the Catholic sector, the independent sector and the
government sector come together regularly to meet and talk with the Queensland
department around issues of concern. My understanding is that they have
developed some quite good resources in recent times around cybersafety, so I
think they would be worthwhile.
As has already been noted, the Minister for Broadband, Communications
and the Digital Economy has established a Teachers’ and Parents’ Advisory Group
The Alannah and Madeline Foundation would like to see the introduction
of a user-friendly toolkit in text and online versions be made available to all
schools to assist with the measurement and the effectiveness of cyber-safety
policies and the whole of community approach.
That the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and
Youth invite the Ministerial Council of Education, Early Childhood
Development and Youth Affairs to formulate a cooperative national approach to
the development of a whole-of-school community approach to cyber-safety, and to
provide all schools with the necessary information and strategies to measure
the effectiveness of their cyber-safety policies.
While schools can support young people through the provision of
information, the encouragement of peer-to-peer education programs can be
effective if they hear the facts and evidence from other students.
The Australian Psychological Society believes that:
Teaching positive relationship strategies, empathy skills,
the importance of bystander intervention and conflict resolution skills (anger
management, problem solving, decision making) in schools is part of a whole
school approach to effectively addressing cyber-safety.
Students at the Committee’s High School Forum discussed the important
on the role of bystanders in supporting their peers:
Dylan-It depends on what sort of bullying it is. If it is
calling a few names and whatnot it is not that bad. It depends on the sort of
personality it is. If it gets into violence, depending on how big the person
is, some people would fight them.
Senator BARNEIT-Are you saying physically?
Dylan-Yes. It depends how bad it gets. Usually I would fight
before I went to the teachers because I do not personally like teachers. That
is just my opinion.
Madeline-At our school we are focusing on the bystander at
the moment. We are making sure that everybody realises that it is not okay to
stand by and just watch. If you see something on Facebook, you should tell a teacher.
You do not have to talk to the person who has done the bullying; you can just
say 'Hello' or smile at the person who is being bullied. We have a new initiative
called One Goal, One Community.
Senator BARNETT-I was going to ask you about that. Can you
explain this new initiative?
Madeline-It was brought to us by an old girl from our school
who is at Bond University. It is happening in six countries around the world.
Everyone gets a sheet and you go round and talk to your family and your
family's friends and get them to sign a statement, 'I won't be a bystander and
I won't accept bullying.' When you bring back the sheet you get a blue
wristband for One Goal, One Community and it shows people that you do not
accept bullying. So the people who are doing the bullying will realise, when
they see all these people wearing wristbands, that it is not acceptable. The
people who are being bullied realise there are people there to stand up for them
and support them.
Senator BARNETT-That sounds cool. Do you think the program is
Imogen-Yes, it is definitely working. I think we have a
strong year 12 community and we look out for the younger grades and ourselves.
We are all quite close with our year group coordinator who is also the head of
the senior school. He is very involved. If we see anything on Facebook,
anything happening in town or anything happening in the playground we go and
talk to him and he will have a word. We have also done an online survey, 1
think it was just in the senior school, that we were all strongly recommended
to do. We could do it anonymously and say whether we had experienced any of
these kinds of bullying. We could name people if we were not comfortable with
going and talking to a teacher face to face.
The Australian Psychological Society stressed the importance of the
It is recommended that schools are encouraged and supported
to adopt a whole-school approach to cyber-safety that balances the use of
online technologies for creativity and learning in a safe way. Such a policy
should be developed in collaboration with students, parents/carers and
teachers, have the commitment of the principal (leadership of the school) and
be agreed upon by every single member of the school community ...Working in
collaboration with parents/carers and students to develop such a policy, making
cyber-safety an integral part of student wellbeing practices in schools, and
including cyber-safety as part of the curriculum will better ensure the policy’s
The Australian Psychological Society referred to research by Dr Donna Cross:
... the most promising interventions appear to be those that
take a whole-school approach which includes the development of programs aimed
- enhancing a positive
school climate and ethos which promotes pro-social behaviours
- providing pre-service
and in-service training of all school staff to assist them to recognise and
respond appropriately to signs of covert bullying
- creating physical
environments that limit the invisibility of covert bullying
- increasing the awareness
among young people of how group mechanisms work and strengthening their skills
in conflict resolution; and
- developing anonymous,
peer-led support structures for students to access when they feel