Principal rejects cyber-bully claims

Principal rejects cyber-bully claims

A Goldfields principal has hit back at the suggestion schools should be held responsible for cyber-bullying outside school hours, saying a combined effort was needed to combat the issue.

Speaking to the Kalgoorlie Miner yesterday, Edith Cowan University academic Lelia Green said regardless of the time or place of the bullying, schools should not dismiss parents seeking support with the issue.

"Schools are responsible because they bring kids compulsorily into contact with each other … and into a position where they may be in harm's way with another student," she said.

"It is not enough to say 'well this email was sent after hours and therefore it is not the school's business' because the reason why the email was sent was because there is a toxic relationship between two kids.

"That relationship is formed at school and continues to be expressed through school … and is therefore absolutely central to the school's activities."

But Eastern Goldfields College principal Dan McCormack said he disagreed with the suggestion schools could be held responsible for their students' after-hours conduct.

Mr McCormack said bullying was a shared and complex issue that needed to be addressed by many parts of the community.

"At times, schools do have to deal with bullying that occurs after hours, but being held responsible to address what happens after hours is a point I would suggest few people would agree with," he said.

"It is important for parents to take an interest in what social networking sites their children are accessing and how they are using their mobile phones so we can all work together to prevent bullying."

Professor Green said cyber-bullying involved more than students picking on their peers, but also parents and adults bullying students online.

"In the absence of the school taking action, the parents weigh in," she said.

"If there was an effective system or way of dealing with bullying that is run by the schools then parents wouldn't be feeling that their only option is to get involved themselves."

Her comments came as she launched the first of a series of public lectures focusing on "kids, video games and social networks".