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Cyber Bullying in Australian Primary Schools

Discuss about the Issues Affecting Australian School Children.

In this report the current issues which is affecting children’s learning and development in Australian primary school are been discussed.Cyber bullying is one of the international issues for school children and young people.Bullying is an aggressive, unwanted behaviour among the school students that involves imbalance of power with an intention to hurt others. Recent Australian study suggests that internet usage has significantly increased among the school children which also resulted in increase in cyber bullying. The Australian primary schools also faces number of challenges. There are several issues which affect the development of school children such as poor parental support, disciplinary issues, poverty, and bullying, hurried childhood and gender equity. All these issues impacts learning and development of children negatively. Freud’s psychodynamic theory states that the three components of mind are id, ego and super ego. Psychosocial theory developed by Lev Vygotsky states that personality development is developed through interaction with family and friends. Cognitive theory attempts to explain human behaviour by understanding the thought process which is also an approach to psychology (Cappadocia, Craig & Pepler, 2013). According to Erikson, human beings in each stage faces a crisis that’s needs to resolved to develop ourselves socially and emotionally.

Freud’s psychodynamic theory which mainly focuses on internal psychological process can be applied to many theories of bullying along with defence mechanism and other internal conflicts causing them to act with high level of aggression (Cavalletto, 2016) Vygotsky’s Psychosocial approach is also another theory which states that development of personality takes place throughout the life in eight stages. Lev Vygotsky’s theories stresses the role of social interaction in the development of cognition. According to His Sociocultural theory, dialogues and languages are culturally specific. Erikson, who was a German American developmental psychologist states there are life challenges in each of the eight stages of an individual’s life. The cognitive approach states the qualitative changes in the way a child think. In his book Childhood and Society during 1950, Erikson published his eight-stage theory of human development(Hinduja & Patchin, 2014). Therefore, it can be said that Cyber bullying has been an international issue for young people, families and schools.

Bullying is an act of intentionally hurting or harming a person by an individual or a group of people with more power who feel helpless to respond. Cyberbullying is also a type of bullying which usually takes place over digital deviceslike computers and mobile phones. It can occur through text messages, online in social media forums such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and also through different apps. The most important thing that needs to be assessed is to find out what are the main contributors of cyber bullying and how can this be stopped permanently. It has been recorded that nearly 43% of the children had been bullied online(Taddeo & Spears, 2015). The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Survey stated that cyber bullying is experienced among 7418 students. One of the most prevalent of all bullying behaviours that was experienced by students in school was teaching. According to the research it has been found out that one in Year4 to Year 9, 27% of the Australian students are reportedly bullied every few weeks.  Year 5 and Year 8 students experienced highest school bullying. According to the sources 64% of girls between the ages 6 to 12 are reported to be cyber bullied(Bullying No Way!, 2018). Secondary school students are more likely to engage in online bullying than the primary school studentsThere are different types of bullying experienced both by adults and children like physical bullying, social bullying, cyber bullying and verbal bullying. Cyber bulling can be a covert or an overt bullying behaviour through digital technologies. It includes abusive e-mails, videos or posts, nasty rumours or imitating others online. There are many challenges in school education. One of them is identifying children who are at the risk of falling behind. Another challenge is to reduce disparities among the Australian schools.

Challenges faced by Australian Primary Schools

Bullying have been studied by researchers for many years. Bullying can be of several types like verbal bullying, physical bullying, cyber bullying, social bullying and prejudicial bullying. Bullyvariesfrom one person to another and their way of bullying also varies. Methods and motivations ofbullying are also different for different person.

Verbal Bullying: It includes name calling, terrorizing and abusing. Verbal bullying also includes insulting someone based on their physical characteristics or on other attributes including religion, sexuality, culture and race. In case of verbal bullying an individual verbally bullies the other person o gain power over his or her peers. This kind of bullying can be damaging and can have psychological effects on the sufferer.

Physical Bullying: This includes hurting or hitting someone, intimidating other person or mutilating others belongings(Cappadocia, Craig,  & Pepler, 2013). Any kind of physical attacks including punching and kicking are forms of physical bullying. Physical bullying also hinders the development of a child as it also makes the victim fear schools.

Social Bullying: Social Bullying is one of the most common form of bullying which comes under verbal bullying. This form of bullying is known as covert bullying. This sort of bullying includes spreading gossip along with fake rumours, excluding someone socially online. Social bullying also causes emotional distress to the victim.

Cyber Bullying: Cyber Bullying is also known as cyber harassment or online bullying. This kind of harassment takes place using electronic means. The increase of using electronic devices among the children ensures that cyber bullying is very much effective in causing harm to lot of students.

Prejudicial Bullying: Prejudices that teens have towards people of different races, sexual orientation or religions are termed as prejudicial bullying. In case of prejudicial bullying there is a tendency for kids to target others who are different from them in terms of race or religion.

One of the major roles in bullying is to cause harm to the other person. Power is one of the major reason for bullying as the bully feels the victim is in control of them. The person who bullies also obtains satisfaction from harassing others. The power is also based on popularity, intelligence, socio economic status and confidence(Hinduja & Patchin, 2014). Bullying in some cases also used for enjoyment and fun among the children. The children watching their friends bullying become bystanders and learn about bullying while observing the behaviour of the children.

Psychological Theories of Bullying

There are many factors which contributes to bullying over the internet. One of the main reason is the access to free internet and the increased usage of technology among the teens, which resulted in addiction. Teenagers nowadays basically use internet for managing stress, depression, loneliness or to escape reality. Sometimes they also reveal a great deal about themselves in order to get attention among his friends whereas some of them expose themselves out of an emotional desire(Olweus, 2013). These teens have a cyber relationship through the internet which are usually based on fantasy and they end up in emotional disappointment. Most of the teenagers in schools bully usually for fun. Some of them will also not want to confront face to face and will start posting rumours on the internet. Creating fake websites and humiliating others is also common. High rate of suicide in case of  young children is one of the most saddening stories of cyber bullying(McLeod,  2013).. Trauma, abuse or any other factors imposed by the parents on children is also a factor behind bullying. Peer pressure is also one of the major contributor to bullying. Sometimes kids in his friends circle pressurizes other kids to participate in bullying which may include name calling or leaving mean notes. Peer pressure therefore causes children to do certain things which is extremely wrong in order to get attention.Different behavioural models that are adopted by students in primary schools are also important in developing the bullying culture. When proper action is not taken in school, the culture of bullying develops among school students. Bullying can also have an injurious effect on student’s learning, health and well being. Bullying can be carried out both in physical as well as psychological way. Creating a threatening atmosphere for the student, name calling are all means of psychological bullying. All this things make the child afraid of going to school. Most of the students bully the inferior ones in order to dominate them and to preserve the conformity and the solidity of the group. In some cases bad school grades can also be a reason for bullying(McLeod, S. 2013).. Though not all aggressive boys can be classified as a bully but according to research made it was found that highly aggressive boys were nominated by their teachers as bullies. The aggressive behaviour of children is one of the major concerning issues for schools and it also hampers the student’s academic achievement. Therefore bullying can be termed as an instrumental behaviour where someone tries to dominate others where power, competitiveness and status play an important role. The bullies also have many friends who have the similar tendency of bullying others. Although it has been seen that some bullies are quite popular among the peers, their popularity starts decreasing in the higher grade.

Types of Bullying

Bullying can make children feel lonely, frightened and unhappy. It also lowers the child’s self esteem and confidence in the society. Because of this reason there is a high tendency of the children to become introvert, lonely, and isolated within the society. The victims also face trust issues when they grow older. Bullying therefore negatively affects the emotional aspects of the children. It can also have long term psychological consequencessuch as withdrawal from school activities, nightmares, depression or feeling too exhausted. Bullying can also have an effect on learning and impacts the whole school community. Students who are being bullied often seemed to miss their schools regularly and they tend to perform poorly in the academics. Behaviours identified as cyber bullying includes nasty emails or internet postings(Olweus, 2013). It has been discovered that that bullying and depression has a strong link between them. According to a recent research that analyzed multiple studies stated that cyber bullying on social media is also linked to depression. In case of severe depression there is also a higher risk of committing suicides in schools.According to the Cyber bullying Research Centre, the victims were found to be suffering from suicidal thoughts and low self esteem. Millions of students drop out each year due to bullying. Children who are often bullied have a hard time in retaining information which also leads to lack of concentration( Hemphill et al.,2015). Bullying thereforeaffects the children’s ability to learn and also affects his ability to trust others. This might not be visible in younger years but as they grow and starts building relationships with others, they start to mistrust people.The victims therefore find it really difficult to make lasting relationships with others in the society. Primary school bullying also drags down academic results. The negative impacts of bullying can be a long term or it can also continue into early adulthood. Some of the victims also reported to have multiple emotional impacts. The bullied victims also reported to feel frustrated,embarrassed,afraid and terrified. In case of physical bullying, the kid may suffer from bumps and bruises along with additional physical costs. Some kids have also complained of headaches and stomach aches. Stomach issues and heart conditions also seemed to worsen whena child is bullied. Bullied kids are often seen struggling to focus on their schoolwork and slipping grades is one of the signs. When a child is been bullied, his family also gets affected. Sometimes the parents also feel powerless to fix the situations and they feel alone and isolated.

Factors Contributing to Cyber Bullying

  • According to Vygotsky, personality development is influenced through interactions with friends, family and culture (Jansen et al., 2013). He also stated in his sociocultural theory that learning is a social process and that the social interaction plays a very important role for cognition. The Education System of Australia therefore needs to be formulated according challenges faced by the children in the society. A proper tool of learning and governing needs to be developed to make sure that there is a strong connection between the social and cognitive interaction characteristics that are developed within this educational system.
  • The school authorities of Australia also needs to be very strict towards the students who are engaged in bullying and therefore needs to adopt strict rules and guidelines on bullying in school premises(Katz et al., 2014).. The primary aim of the school is to restore a positive learning environment for all students. An Australian intervention program for primary schools, Friendly Schools and Families encourages school to systematically tailor strategies to reduce bullying.
  • Aggressive behaviour in young children is quite common and parents must therefore work to stop these behaviour before they become habitual. Children who spend less time with their parents are often seen to bully others, therefore it is advisable that the parents should spend enough time with their children.
  • Talking to kids about bullying and helping them understand why it is harmful and how should they respond is also advisable. Exposure to family conflicts or problems in the family environment, parental use of drugs and alcohol are some of the factors which increases the likelihood of the child to bully others. Children reflect the attitudes and behaviour of the parents. Parents should teach children how to treat others with respect. Parents, educators and law enforcement all need to take caution in order to prevent children from cyber bullying.


In conclusion, it can be said that bullying negatively affects learning and development across primary schools in Australia.Cyber bullying therefore is a very serious problem with today’s youth. Teenagers mainly have problem with cyber bullying and therefore find it hard to communicate with others about the problem they faces.Many lives are lost, people are getting hurt and they are also suffering from anxiety and depression. The parents, teachers, schools and education boards are not working enough towards changing the attitude and mentality of the adults and children in the society. The road to recovery from bullying is very challenging and in fact the effects of bullying can stick around for a long time. If bullying is not addressed properly, it can cause a lot of problemfor the children. Therefore, in order to help a child to heal from bullying, the school authorities and parents must come forward to help him out. Consulting a councelor will also help the bullied victim to recover fast.

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