Girl Guides survey reveals rampant cyber-bullying in Australia

One fifth of girls aged 10-14 are bullied online, over two thirds of all girls under 10 are bullied

Preliminary results of a survey conducted by Girl Guides Australia have revealed that one fifth of girls aged 10-14 are bullied online. Security company AVG says much of this bullying is carried out over social media services like Facebook, as well as via chat and email.

The media release from Girl Guides Australia notes that 68 per cent of young Australian girls are bullied by their peers, and one fifth of girls aged 10-14 have experienced online bullying. AVG Australia security evangelist Lloyd Borrett says that many children set up social media accounts without their parents' control or oversight, and that 'status-jacking' — friends or bullies hijacking accounts and posting embarrassing status updates — is a common occurrence.

A survey conducted by NetAlert and NineMSN in 2007 found that 16 per cent of young people admitted to experiencing online bullying, with bullying via mobile phone another common occurrence.

Facebook's terms and conditions state that no-one under the age of 13 is permitted to create a profile on the Web site — a user trying to sign up with a birth date after 1998 will be told they are ineligible. However, social networking site Twitter has no age restriction. Popular email service Gmail, offered by , states in its terms and conditions that the service may not be used if the user is not of a legal age to enter into a binding contract, which is 18 in Australia. The full Girl Guides survey, titled Guides Say 2010, will be released on February 14. Any victims of cyber bullying are encouraged to contact Reach Out or Kids Helpline.

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Campbell Simpson

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