A Border mother has called for schools to do more to educate children on the deadly effects of cyber bullying, after witnessing her 13-year-old suffer from panic attacks because she was being excluded, receiving prank calls and nasty messages.
The comments come as the Victorian opposition announced, if elected, they would ban mobile phones in the classroom.
The Wodonga mother, who wished to remain anonymous to protect her daughter, said the ban should extend to the school yard and must be heavily enforced to be worth the paper it was written on.
She said her daughter’s school did ban phones during lunchtime and recess but she was told the policy was hard to enforce.
“Children don’t understand the the effect it can have on someone,” the mother said.
“She would have anxiety and panic attacks before school, she’d just cry and every-time we’d get a prank call on the weekend she’d ask me ‘Why are they doing this to me?’
“I don’t think there’s enough education, schools need to show students the real life cases, like that of Dolly Everett.
“They need to see that, so they understand little things can add up to big consequences.”
The mother understands students need phones for emergencies but thinks they should not leave the locker.
She said despite it all, the family was lucky, because her daughter shared what was going on.
“To see her so upset and shaking is horrible, but at least she told me, if she didn’t tell me...” she said.
“It’s just little things that people wouldn’t say to your face, but they’re comfortable to send through on the phone, and at that age it’s so hard.
“It doesn’t just affect the child it affected me and my husband and ripples through the whole family.”
Times have changed since parents were at school, the mother said, but it is the responsibility of schools and guardians to keep up.
As for the argument, children or parents should just turn off the phone and that would shut off bullying, the mother said it’s not that simple.
“They’re now growing up with phones and iPads and computers – from now on,” she said.
“It’s not going away and I don’t think my daughter should be punished when someone else is doing the wrong thing.
“When we were children we go home and our only option was to contact someone was calling via a landline, with often their parents answering. Now, you can’t escape, you go home on the weekend and get calls.
“Parents and teachers have to adopt with the technology – they can’t put their head in the sand.”