FACEBOOK and the Victorian government have forged an Australia-first relationship that will today see 2000 secondary students take part in a cyberbullying exercise.
It comes after the Education Minister, Martin Dixon, met with Facebook’s Australian policy manager, Mia Garlick, in April to discuss a joint approach to cyber bullying.
But a Victorian expert has warned that cyber safety education needs to be more than a one-off presentation because some schools still ”don’t have a handle” on the issue.
Today’s webinar (a seminar conducted online) will focus on responsible and safe behaviour, and the rights and responsibilities of being a social media user.
A spokesman for the minister said that today’s presentation would be evaluated, and future sessions would be considered if it was successful.
The spokesman said the government was working with Facebook to develop online resources for students, teachers and parents, which were expected to be finished by year’s end. A cyber safety expert, Susan McLean, said the government and the Education Department should make cyber safety education compulsory in all schools.
”That would be a really good flow-on from this,” Ms McLean, a former police officer, said. ”I’m in schools every day and I see schools that still don’t have a handle on it, still don’t believe it’s their problem, and really don’t help the kids in their care, and that needs to change.
”Ninety-nine per cent of Australian teenagers have Facebook, and my experience is that the vast majority of them don’t know how to use it properly.
”They don’t spend the time and energy and effort setting up their profile correctly. They don’t know how to set it up so people can’t check them in at locations, they don’t know how to set it up so people don’t send them messages.
”There’s a lot of tools within Facebook that are really good and positive, but a lot of people don’t know they’re there.”
Earlier this year, Catherine Bernard, 17, took her own life after schoolyard and Facebook bullying. In January, Sheniz Erkan, 14, committed suicide after being bullied online and at school. In 2009, Allem Halkic, 17, took his life after a former friend bullied him through text message, and in the same year, Chanelle Rae, 14, committed suicide after receiving threatening messages on the internet.