Host: Now Victoria’s banned students in government schools from using YouTube after it showed a video of a sickening assault on a 17-year-old girl. This decision is part of an ongoing battle against cyber-bullying, the use of technology to bully other kids.
So will this ban make any difference? Cyber-bullying can use the mobile phone, e-mail and any number of websites and services after all. Will kids be able to get around the ban?
Robyn Treyvaud (Expert): Well, the kids tell me they can, and I’ve actually tried to do it myself on different networks that have been deemed to be blocked. And it’s very easy for young people, who are very keen to get around the blocks, to go to websites to actually convert a web address into an IP address, so we’re going from letters to numbers and it often gets around the filters and the blocks in schools.
Host: How effective will a ban on YouTube in schools be in reducing cyber-bullying?
Robyn: Not much at all, because most of the cyber-bullying situations are not happening at school. They’re happening in out-of-school hours, in homes and wherever children have access to the Internet. And while they’re not happening at school, schools are actually having to pick up the pieces of abusive e-mails that have been sent overnight or exclusion from instant messages at the weekend, for example. And then we have a breakdown in social relationships that impact on the school as a community and also the health and wellbeing of the student. At the end of the day, the…the important message with using technologies, be they the Internet or mobile technologies, is we need to help our children develop a moral compass, because they’re in a brave new world that some of us are calling “Cyberia.”
What’s happening is we’ve got young people who can be 1)anonymous, who can do things in groups—it’s very powerful for them to do that—and they’ll choose their victims very carefully, and this is 24/7 relentless stuff for some of our young people. For those who are often bullied or socially isolated at school or in the world outside, they’re finding that this bullying is following them wherever they go. They don’t know when it’s coming, they don’t know how it’s going to manifest, so, if we’ve got young people, who’ve got mobile phones under their pillows, and they’re also a victim of bullying, they can be woken up all through the night with text messages, and then when they go to their e-mail, there’ll be other messages. Then when they go in the chat rooms, they’ll find that they’ve been blocked and they’re excluded. And often these young people have blogs or websites set up in their name with photos of themselves…
Robyn: …and others often that have been doctored and are seriously harming the emotional wellbeing of some of these young people.
Host: Now, from what you’re saying, it’s not the same kids doing cyber-bullying as were…as have been doing traditional bullying.
Robyn: Not necessar…sometimes it might be, but we have four different types of cyber-bullies. One is the sort of 2)vengeful angel righting the wrongs, protecting someone that needs protection, and often it’s themselves. We’ve then got the “revenge of the nerds,” and these…these young people are obviously very tech-3)savvy and they’re using their skills and their knowledge to perhaps give a hard time to people who are giving them a hard time in the real world. The group that I find very interesting is the “mean girls,” and I think those of us who’ve been in education as long as I have know that from about 10 to 15 girls have really very difficult times; there’re real tensions in their relationships. And then the last category is “Well I can just because I can,” and a lot of the behaviours, which we would deem to be bullying or harassing behaviours, when you actually ask the young people about it, they think it’s just a bit of fun, and they’ll say “I didn’t mean any harm by it.”