Led by ECU's Professor Donna Cross, the aim of the study is to equip children, parents and teachers with the skills to identify bullying. It is particularly important for parents to be aware of cyber bullying and able to determine if their child is being bullied or bullying others.
The study will involve a series of consultation and awareness forums for parents and schools across Australia, to be held between March and August 2008, and an online student, parent and teacher survey to be conducted between October and December 2008. Approximately 4,000 students from 40 schools will be involved during this time.
Professor Cross, an expert in child behaviour, said cyber bullying was far worse than traditional forms of bullying because it follows students home and it can be carried out anonymously; not only making it difficult to track down the perpetrator, but also making day-to-day interaction for bullied children difficult, not knowing who they can trust.
"We know with traditional bullying that children experience depression, anxiety, they're socially ostracised, it can harm their physical health, they drop out of school, they achieve less," Professor Cross said.
"These negative social, physical and mental health outcomes can be magnified in cyber bullying cases due to the pervasive nature of the bullying, often including the distribution of images and video footage".
ECU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Kerry Cox, said he was pleased ECU was leading the way with the groundbreaking study.
"Professor Cross and her team are at the forefront of the fight against this new, and unfortunately growing, method of bullying," he said.
"I encourage everyone, particularly those who are affected by cyber bullying, to get involved with this research project."
If students are being bullied or would like more information on how to deal with bullying and cyber bullying, they should talk to a teacher, visit www.bullyingnoway.com.au or call the Kids Help Line on: 1800 55 1800
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Edith Cowan University's (ECU) Child Health Promotion Research Centre have been awarded $400,000 by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Mark McGowan, to conduct the world's first study into how to combat the effects of cyber bullying.