Phone curfews: Counsellor's solution to cyber bullying

13th March 2018 10:47 AM
Cyber bullying is a pervasive, relentless and cowardly form of attack. Cyber bullying is a pervasive, relentless and cowardly form of attack. Luka Kauzlaric

IN WAKE of recent teen suicides in Queensland, Sunshine Coast counsellor has called for mobile phone curfews at night for primary and middle school students.

This is one measure posed by Kerrie Atherton that can be taken by parents to help prevent their child from being a target of late night online bullying.

A youth and drug and alcohol counsellor believes social media bullying, compounded by face-to-face bullying, is partly to blame for the youth suicide epidemic.

Earlier this month, a 12-year-old Gympie students twice attempted to take his own life after "incessant" bullying.

In January 14-year-old country girl Dolly Everett died after online torment from school bullies.

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It is tragedies like these that rock Ms Atherton to the core. She along with other experts in the field say that confiscating mobiles in the evenings can prevent potential issues arising.

"Most the kids I've surveyed at schools and on the street say bullying is their number one concern," said Ms Atherton, who runs anti-bullying programs in schools.

"Cyber bullying is much worse. The kids say to me it continues at home online, then further at school the next day.

"Parental control of mobile phones, and kids not being allowed phones in rooms at night. It gives them an uninterrupted sleep and allows parents to see messages, giving them a reprieve from that.

"The majority of kids I deal with sleep with their mobiles or don't sleep at all."


Social media pushes kids to the brink

FOUR handy station kids from a remote Kimberley property are doing all they can to support Dolly's Dream.

LNP looks at banning mobiles from schools.

Ms Atherton understands the idea will see a major backlash from children who aren't being bullied or doing the right thing - but says the bigger picture is far more important.

She pointed to anonymous polls in schools being a way to single out the classroom bullies.

"Instant anonymous polls without warning from teachers on 'who you think the bullies are'," she suggested.

"Then the school can do some investigations. It is one way a child can feel safe about reporting a bully without personal backlash.

"When I am presenting a program in class, something I do is get the kids to look around at one another and I talk about the bullies being insecure kids, who have usually been bullied themselves. Talking about them not being tough takes away their power.

"All the students know exactly who the bullies are and I find it takes the power off them."


Girl Using Mobile Phone Instead Of Studying In Bedroom Sitting In Chair With Head In Hands
Girl Using Mobile Phone Instead Of Studying In Bedroom Sitting In Chair With Head In Hands monkeybusinessimages

She said the more students that stand up against the bullying, the less power the bully has.

She encouraged said parents should look for ominous warning signs of behavioural changes to their kids.

She said kids 'faking sick' was a tell tale sign that something was wrong.

"One sign is the kid feeling sick for no reason and not wanting to go to school," she said.

"That is a big warning sign. The increased anxiety and isolating themselves are all signs."

If you need help, phone Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or visit, or phone Lifeline on 131114.