Cyber bullying
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Cyber bullying is becoming a serious problem
One in four school children is being bullied using modern technology, and that frightening ratio could go even higher as more children get access to computers and phones.

Traditional schoolyard bullying is now taking place over the internet and via phone messages.

A 2008 Galaxy Research poll found one-quarter of schoolchildren suffer from cyberbullying, but Alannah and Madeline Foundation cybersafety general manager Jackie Van Vugt said that figure could be higher.

"We have research showing 1 in 10 students is being cyberbullied every few weeks," she says. "The latest research we have was done a few years ago now, and evidence from overseas shows it's at much higher rates in the US and the UK now."

Some overseas studies show female students are more likely to be victimised, as are high school students, due to their greater access to gadgets.

Younger students now own mobile phones in greater numbers, according to a January study by Sweeney Research.

The Australian study of more than 1000 parents found that 87 per cent of children aged between four and 16 own or have access to a mobile phone and 66 per cent take their mobile phones to school at least some of the time.

Van Vugt said this access to technology needed to be better managed.

"All children have the capacity to behave badly, especially if they don't understand the impact of their behaviour," she added.

To address cyberbullying, the foundation has created a school-wide program called eSmart. Piloted in more than 150 schools last year, the program educates and sets boundaries on cyberbullying. But the cost of the program to each school, $3500 over four years, may prevent its wider adoption.

Mobile phone recycling program MobileMuster has launched a fundraising campaign, under the banner of "Old phones, safe kids", to promote the program.

MobileMuster recycling manager Rose Read says the organisation will donate $1 for every 2kg of phones, chargers and accessories recycled before May 31.

This drive is expected to raise as much as $20,000 for the eSmart program, or deliver the program to 20 schools for one year.

Old mobile phones can be donated at drop-off points listed at

Van Vugt recommends that parents monitor their children's emotional state and technology use with a sympathetic approach to bullying, rather than being confrontational or punitive.