Australia News

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner investigates cyberbullying complaints

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner investigated 70 serious cyberbullying complaints in the last three months to September 2016, and found a 75 percent increase over the same period last year.

The Office helps young people have safe, positive experiences online and encourages behavioral change, where a generation of Australian children act responsibly online— just as they would offline. It provides online safety education for young people, a complaints service for young people who experience serious cyberbullying and addresses illegal online content. Their goal is to empower all Australians to explore the online world safely.

The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner was set up as part of the Australian Communications and Media Authority in July 2015 by the federal government to appropriately deal with content that has been posted on social media sites in the country. After conducting research, it found that over a 12-month period, as many as one in five Australian children aged eight to 17 have experienced cyberbullying.

At the end of the 12-mark period, there were 186 complaints of “serious cyberbullying” affecting young people under 18, with 71 percent of these cases targeting girls. The research report involved factors such as,

  • 73% nasty comments and/or serious name calling,
  • 26% offensive of upsetting pictures or videos,
  • 21% threats of violence,
  • 21% fake and/or impersonator accounts,
  • 7% hacking of social media accounts,
  • 7% unwanted contact,
  • 3% hate pages.

Acting Children’s eSafety Commissioner Andree Wright says,

Education plays a big part. We provide quality resources that empower young people to take action when they see and experience cyberbullying along with practical steps to build their resilience to deal with its emotional effects.

The Office plays the role of removing objectionable, offensive and illegal online content and developing a “cyberbullying civil notice regime.” Parents, guardians and children can lodge complaints to the Office, which then investigates the content. It also has the authority to force social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to remove content deemed to be of bullying, offensive or illegal nature. Those companies that fail to comply face fines of AU$17,000 per day. Wright also said,

With millions of young Australians highly engaged on social media, we welcome the efforts of all our partners to help ensure positive experiences for their users.

The official website of The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has also seen a 36 percent increase in traffic to its website. 198,601 unique visits from July to September this year, alone.

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