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From the Deputy Head – Staff & Students, Patrick Brennan

From the Deputy Head – Staff & Students, Patrick Brennan

Waverley College is committed to being a safe school both in the playground, classroom at co-curricular and when our students engage on social media. The College appreciates the value of social media for students as a fun and effective way of communicating with their peers. We are also aware that it’s much easier to say negative things behind a computer than face to face with someone. The negative message on social media can be read over and over causing further anxiety for the student who received it.

There continues to be a zero tolerance at the College for any student who engages in cyberbullying. To this point, there have been no cases of re-offending by any student at Waverley College.

Recent legislation following the tragic death of teenager Dolly Everett will put cyberbullies in jail for up to five years. The College supports the state government amendments which mean abusive online trolls and those who send threatening texts or emails would be slapped with Apprehended Violence Orders. Like all matters involving the NSW Police, the College will support any investigation.

Under existing Commonwealth laws, trolls using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offense are to face a maximum of only three years in prison. The NSW offence now carries a five-year prison sentence. Examples of what will be covered by the laws include posting threatening or hurtful messages on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, posting abusive images or videos, repeatedly sending unwanted messages or abusive emails.

At a recent assembly I reminded boys of the simple steps to take if they are ever exposed to cyberbullying:

1) Don’t feed the trolls; they want a reaction. Be aware particularly when responding when you are angry or upset.

2) Collect evidence; take a screenshot as soon as possible before the content is removed.

3) Tell someone; parents, your Mentor, Head of House, Deputy Head of College. All of these people can do something about it. Serious online bullying should be reported to the Police or the eSafety Commissioner.

4) Protect yourself online; update privacy settings, delete awful messages and block the sender.