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02 Dec 2009
By Darren Kane
Dec
02
2009

One starry, starry night…

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I recently had a great night out.  I attended, via an invitation from the Telstra Foundation, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s (AMF) annual gala evening Starry Starry Night in Melbourne.

About 80 celebrities and sporting stars hosted approximately 1000 guests in a night of entertainment in the name of charity – raising money to help reduce violence against children.

Most of the people I spoke to during the course of the evening knew someone who had been the victim of cyber-bullying.  You could tell when we spoke about it, that it made them angry and it had left a lasting impression on each of them. Their offers to help and speak about the damage this behaviour can cause were genuine.  They wanted to know more about what options the victims of cyber-bullying can do to help manage this damaging problem.

We also discussed how online bullying originated. Some people I spoke with told of how a friend, loved one or a member of a tight group of adolescent friends fell out over something silly and became bitter enemies overnight.  The secrets they always shared became nasty, hurtful allegations posted on social networking sites or sent by text to class mates and other networks.

One well known ex-AFL footy star spoke passionately about this.  He shared his experiences with his children of how hurtful this behaviour can be, and that with this form of bullying the tables can and do turn quickly – today’s bully is tomorrow’s victim.

So I thought I’d share with you some tips to help parents and guardians protect kids:

  1. Keep private information private – don’t give out personal details without parental knowledge
  2. Know what to do and where to go if they encounter cyber-bullying
  3. Keep online friendships online – never let kids go to meetings without parental supervision
  4. Use a mobile PIN number and treat a mobile as you would the internet, – online is online
  5. Reinforce positive behaviour and values in the online world

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed the evening’s entertainment, but the main thing the night did for me was reinforce that ‘cyber-safety is everybody’s responsibility’.

Related links:

The Alannah and Madeline’s Cybersafety and Wellbeing Initiative

The Telstra Foundation’s Spotlight on Cyber-Safety

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Darren, yes it was a great night wasn’t it? It was my first Starry Starry Night and I was amazed by the scale of it and the generosity of all those who came along on the night. People really do feel the importance of protecting children from violence (both physical and non-physical forms). It’s also been my experience since starting work with the Foundation that almost everyone you talk to has a personal story of they or their children being bullied, stalked or exposed to inappropriate material online. And now with more and more phones having Internet access, the challenge facing us to minimise this harm is even greater.

  2. Darren Kane says:

    You’re right Jackie. We had a great night and you could tell that everybody who attended had the same. I think that has a lot to do with their support for such a worthwhile cause.

    On your point about cyber-bullying, everyone who now recognises me in this role wants to tell me of an experience they know of where users have been bullied and the effects that this behaviour has had upon them. We are hoping that our awareness efforts combined with those like your Foundation will go along way to ensuring all users have more positive online experience.

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