cyber bullying

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Every person in sport, in every role, has the right to participate in an environment that is fun, safe and healthy, and to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.

Bullying has been defined as behaviour that is intentional, harmful, repetitive, and reflects an abuse of power. Bullying behaviours can be physical (hitting, kicking, pushing), verbal (teasing, threatening), or relational (social exclusion, harming friendships, spreading rumours).

What is Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is a form of bullying, which is carried out through an internet service such as email, a chat room, discussion group, instant messaging or web pages. It can also include bullying through mobile phone technologies such as SMS.

Examples of cyber bullying behaviour are:

• teasing and being made fun of;

• spreading rumours online;

• sending unwanted messages; and

• defamation.

Anyone can be bullied online and the bully can act anonymously if he or she desires.

What is cyber stalking?

Cyber stalking describes when a person is stalked or harassed by another person using a service of the internet such as email, instant messaging or via a posting in a discussion group. Stalking behaviours can include threats, cryptic messages and sexual innuendo that occur in a frequent and intrusive manner. The usual goal for stalking is to create a sense of fear in the recipient and the motivation is based on control and intimidation.

What activities can I report?

Under certain circumstances (such as harassment and making threats) cyber bullying is a criminal activity and illegal. If you feel your immediate safety is at risk, contact '000' in an emergency situation or your local police. Police around Australia work together to reduce this type of crime and there are serious consequences if people participate in such activities.

You can report to the authorities any personal threat that you consider to be stalking. Personal threats are considered as an assault, even when no physical contact has been made.

How can you protect yourself against cyber stalking?

• Find out what is already published about you on the internet. Type your name into one of the Google services (web, images, groups, directory or news) and see if anything is already online.

• Stay anonymous. Only use your ISP email for official communication and create other email accounts, for example when you enter an online competition.

• Choose a name that you wish to use online which is different to your real name and not specifically a male or female name.

• Refrain from submitting any personal information others will be able to see online (e.g., when signing up for an online service such as chat or instant messaging).

• Be careful where you display any real life photos. It is easy for others to save these photos and display them on other parts of the internet.

• Be aware of the online services that people can contact you on and take any precautions necessary to protect yourself and your machine from any attacks when using these services. Only add 'friends' who you know are real people and actually exist.

How you stop cyber bullies?

• Keep a record including time and date. This may help you, or the police, to find out who is sending the messages.

• Tell someone. Talk to someone you trust, a parent, friend, school counsellor or teacher.

• Contact your telephone or Internet service provider and report what is happening. They can help you block messages or calls from certain senders.

• If messages are threatening or serious get in touch with the police. Cyber-bullying, if it's threatening, is illegal.

• Don't reply to bullying messages - it'll only get worse if you do. By replying the bully gets what he or she wants. Often if you don't reply the bully will leave you alone.

• Change your contact details. Get a new user name for the Internet, a new e-mail account, a new mobile phone number and only give them out to your closest friends.

• Keep your username and passwords secret. Keep your personal information private so it doesn't fall into the hands of someone who'll mis-use it.

If you're a parent, what can you do about cyber bullying?

• Discuss the incident with your child, assure them that you can help even if you know less about mobiles than they do!

• Help your child implement strategies to minimise the harassment.

• Make your child's school or club aware of the problem. Most schools have a policy on the use of mobile phones.

• Share your experiences with other parents, and raise concerns through your child's school, sporting club or other community groups in which they're involved.

• Remember the law is on your side and it is a criminal offence to use a mobile phone to menace or harass another person.

What can my sport do to help?

Sporting organisations should promote their organisation as one that will not allow or tolerate cyber bullying or bullying in general. The development of Codes of Conduct and a policy that addresses bullying behaviours, such as a Member Protection Policy will assist in this process. A Member Protection Policy addresses a range of inappropriate behaviours including discrimination, harassment and abuse and provides a complaints process for dealing with incidents.