Cyber harassment of teens rife

The Age (Australia) November 5, 2007
More than a third of teenage girls in Australia have been sexually harassed via the internet, and more than a quarter admit cyber-bullying other girls, according to a new survey released yesterday. Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg told a national conference on bullying in Melbourne that more than 90 per cent of parents were not taking seriously enough their responsibility to protect their children online. “Most parents haven’t got a clue,” he said. “This is part of the digital divide. Parents have fallen for the two-card trick that what goes on online is private and that children have a right to be online.” Victoria Police cyber-safety specialist Susie McLean said that cyber-bullying affected more young people every day than drug abuse. “There’s no school in Australia not dealing with cyber-bullying,” Senior Constable McLean said. “It’s the number one safety problem confronting young people.”The cyber survey, run in Girlfriend magazine, showed that more than two-thirds of teenagers had tried to hide their internet use from their families, and that nearly half felt their relationships suffered because of excessive internet use. …The 26 per cent of girls who admitted cyber-bullying — via mobile phone, email, internet chatrooms and social networking sites such as MySpace — was a significant underestimation because most girls would not admit doing it, he said. The survey found that more than a third of girls had been sent sexually inappropriate material via the internet, 70 per cent had accessed pornography sites by accident and 21 per cent on purpose, while 41 per cent had been asked to post naked pictures of themselves. He said sexual harassment — usually messages such as “you’re a slut” — was a particularly odious form of bullying.