Member for Groom Dr John McVeigh has urged Darling Downs parents to get involved with their children’s use of technology in a bid to prevent cyberbullying before it occurs.
Dr McVeigh was one of the Government’s speakers last week on the Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill 2017 which targets online predators.
“The safety of our children online is vital ” Dr McVeigh said. “The Turnbull Government shares the community’s concerns that the internet through social media is being used by predators to target our most vulnerable.”
“The Government has today taken steps to strengthen existing laws by introducing a new offence criminalising acts online in preparation or planning to do harm to a minor ” he said.
“The amendments broaden the scope to capture offences which could result in physical harm or harm to someone’s mental health. A preparatory act may for example include a person using social media to lie about their age or an event in an attempt to lure a child to a meeting.”
Dr McVeigh called on parents to also play a role in protecting children online by having ongoing conversations with their children about various online activities.
“For small children you can put in place online safeguards and parental control settings filters and products that block certain content ” he said.
“For older children talk to them about the risks of sharing information and photos with people they do not know.
“For teenagers their online life is an important part of their social identity. We know you just can’t switch off the computer and the online comments go away … talk to your children about cyberbullying.”
Dr McVeigh said the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has a range of classroom resources outreach programs and a service dedicated to investigating serious cyberbullying cases.
“They are running a youth program called Rewrite Your Story and I will be running the video on Facebook. I encourage parents in Groom to share these to start the conversation to ensure our children are cyber smart ” he said.