Today Show 22 July

Sobering piece on the Today Show this morning about cyber bullying and the ultimate outcome that can occur if it is not bitten in the butt straight away.
Cyber-bullying is in no way acceptable at any level. No matter how a young person tries to justify it, just like in the real world, a zero tolerance policy should exist within schools and the home – whether your child is the victim or perpetrator.

Unfortunately, some people really feel the pinch of cyber-bullying more so than in real life because it is happening within your home, and with one in four Australian children saying they have been a victim of cyber-bullying, it is an insidious blight that is not going to go away any time soon.

Cyber-bullying is destructive and can take many forms – from spreading gossip and lies, through to threats of violence, and everything in between.
So what are the solutions. They are easy and basic, and there is no excuse not to put them in place.

1)Talk to your kids. Sure, kids are recalcitrant in coming forward with their problems because they'd hate the idea of their parents interfering in their lives, but you can't afford to ignore this one. They perceive it as a sign of weakness to those who are doing the bullying and feel it empowers the bully. However, you don't have to go like a bull-at-a-gate if you find out who the bully is. Get the evidence and then act upon it in a mature way.

2)Don't hesitate to contact your child's school or the police if you feel the threats are bad. Today, school principles and teachers take cyber bullying of students very seriously. They have no tolerance. If the case is serious enough, the police will take a complaint and investigate.

3)Get involved with what your kids are doing online. Like most kids – especially teenagers – they'll hate your interference, but as they are still minors, and they are living under your roof, you have the right to look into what they are doing. You don't have to go overboard and get involved in every little thing, but you certainly have the right to know who their friends are and what subjects they are discussing.

4)Parents have to realise that kids are probably a lot more tech savvy than they are, but that doesn't mean you can't educate yourself on the different social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, and how these sites work.

Currently 42 percent of Aussie parents say they don't check their kids' history on websites they have visited. Parents need to become more involved – the price of failure can be heartbreaking.