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“Education about bullying and its effects on lives is imperative”
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“Education about bullying and its effects on lives is imperative”

Recent tragic deaths in Australia caused by so-called ‘cyber bullying’ underline the importance of legislation to deal with malicious behaviour aided by new technology, writes 19-year-old Commonwealth Correspondent Sharlene Sturk from the state of Victoria.

Bullying is a substantial concern not only for Australia but also for many other nations around the world.

The extent of bullying is now much larger in the 21st century then in previous times because of the introduction of social networking sites.

This increase in technology now means that their is no way for young people to avoid bullying. The cyber world has created this trap for bullies to further torment their victims – the bullying no longer stops in the school yard.

Statistics show that one in six children per week in Australia are bullied in the school yard, and according to the website kidspot.com.au one in ten children have experienced cyber bullying.

Bullying has long term effects which can sometimes turn out to be fatal in the lives of many young people. I asked a young person about their experiences of bullying and how it impacted their live. They told me that it left them ‘feeling vulnerable’, they also told me that ‘bullying is something which no one should have to go through’.

This really struck a cord with me because I too experienced bullying as a result of being different because of a medical condition I have. For years bullying effected me psychologically, although I did receive counselling and came back a strong person for having gone through it. It’s upsetting to know that bullying has proved fatal in some circumstances.

The recent death of Australian teenager 14-year-old Chanelle Rae after she was cyber bullied is just one of many stories of bullying which proved to be fatal. However, cyber and workplace bullying is finally being recognised for its significant impact on many young peoples lives with the state government of Victoria (state in Australia) introducing a law nicknamed ‘Brodies Law’ which will add serious workplace and cyber bullying to the criminal law.

People who use social networking sites to threaten or harass another individual can now face up to 10 years imprisonment. The introduction of ‘Brodies Law’ comes after the death of 19-year-old Brodie Panlock who committed suicide after experiencing horrendous workplace torment. There are calls for ‘Brodies law’ to be recognised nation wide, as it is only current recognised in the state of Victoria.

The new law will not stop bullying,  however it now provides perpetrators with penalties for bullying as well as providing some relief to individuals and their families who have been victims of bullying.

Nonetheless, I do believe that education about bullying and its effects on lives is imperative in order to address the problem of bullying.

If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying don’t be afraid to speak up about it. If you live in Australia you can call the Kids Helpline on: 1800 55 1800. The Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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