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Cyber-bully victims urged to speak out

CALLA WAHLQUIST | The Examiner | July 16, 2012, 10:08 a.m.

Switching off from social media was not an option for cyber-bullied teenagers, a youth mental health spokesman has said.

Headspace Northern Tasmania's Wayne Frost said social media was so central to the way teens ran their social lives that telling bullied teens to close their Facebook account if it copped abuse was ``increasingly unrealistic and unhelpful''.

``It's like telling a kid not to go to school anymore if they are being bullied face-to-face,'' Mr Frost said.

Mr Frost's comments came a week after police made a public plea to social media users not to report online disputes as a crime.

E-crime acting Inspector Luke Manhood said that in most cases Facebook abuse, which included cyber bullying, was not a crime and should be reported to Facebook and not to police.

The exceptions were threats that contained a credible threat of imminent violence or behaviour that was serious enough to breach stalking laws.

Mr Frost said cyber-bullying was as as serious and potentially as damaging as off-line bullying, but much more pervasive.

And he said the ease of anonymity online could make bullying that much nastier.

``A person is a bit detached from the message; they can just send out something without being in the room with a person to cop the brunt of its full effect,'' Mr Frost said.

``And it's harder for the victim to move past that because then they have a permanent record of it.''

Facebook allows users to report abusive or offensive content, and responds to these complains in 72 hours.

But Mr Frost said that was often too slow to prevent the damage.

He said rather than blocking social media, parents should talk to teens about what was said on social media and speak up about cyber-bullying.

Courtesy of The Examiner

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