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Cyber bullying

EXCLUSIVE - The Freda Briggs Parenting Series

Freda Briggs - Emeritus Professor in Child Development
for | 23 February 2012

Stock Photo - © Syncerz

Cyber bullying is a comparatively recent problem

It is when a bully uses emails, chat rooms, texting, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace or other social networks to denigrate or cause fear in others. It is now the most common and insidious form of bullying and is usually anonymous. It is also a crime.

Both boys and girls of primary school age now receive messages to the effect that if they don’t provide oral sex the next day they will be bashed.

Derogatory messages and images (doctored or otherwise) may be placed on social network sites. For example, victims’ photos can be superimposed on pornographic images. Girls have sent photos of their genitals to boyfriends who, for peer-group kudos, placed them on the internet causing massive embarrassment and even suicide. Some photographed others in toilets without their consent.

Although cyber bullies have similar motives to their traditional counterparts, they have a much greater impact on victims. Studies show that children do not tell parents because of the fear that their technology will be confiscated and they regard it as essential to their social lives.

You can help to prevent this by discussing the size and nature of the problem. Ensure that children do not take mobile phones to bed. When cyber bullying occurs, save the message and tell your child not to reply; replies make bullies feel important. Next, contact the service provider to have messages traced and stopped. If not possible, open a new email account for use with close friends. Keep a printout of worrying messages. Talk to children about the need to report cyber bullying.

Use programs to restrict children accessing sexual and dangerous websites. Keep computers in the family room where you can monitor usage.

Further information can be obtained from Australia’s Cybersafety website. These are government sponsored free websites specifically to help parents to protect children when using the internet.

More information on bullying can be found in "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids" by the author, available from JoJo Publishers, Melbourne, all good bookshops or the internet.

Freda Briggs
Emeritus Professor in Child Development

Smart Parenting for Safer Kids

Dr Freda Briggs AO is Emeritus Professor in Child Development at the University of South Australia and author of "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids". "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids", reviewed by here, gives tips on keeping children safe in a wide range of situations from cyber space and sexual abuse to bullying. The book is available in all good bookstores and can be ordered by phone on 03 9681 7275 or online at JoJo Publishing
You can read more of Freda Briggs's Profile here.

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of The views of the author are not necessarily representative of those of This article contains only general information, correct at the date of publication. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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