Mum's concern over threats and sexting at Bundy school
TECHNOLOGY was introduced to the high school curriculum to build skills, efficiency and accessibility, but what happens when these devices are being used for bullying and sexual content purposes?
This is what a Bundy mum, who the NewsMail has chosen not to identify for the protection of her son, says is the reality her teenage child faces.
Her child attends Kepnock State High School and after the school introduced iPads, she claims she was forced to finance a device she would rather her son go without, as school fees doubled.
"Every single child has an iPad now so I'm paying money to have less control of my child's safety, but I had no choice in the matter and it means they rely so much on technology these days," the mother-of-one said.
"Students from all over Bundaberg are adding each other on Facebook and they've never even met and kids are setting up fake Facebook accounts, so that no one can prove who is sending verbal threats to my child.
"There's verbal threats, 'sexting', nude photos being sent and the school know about it but every time I beg them to do something, they just say 'They are aware, their hands are tied, but there's nothing they can do about it'."
The abuse has become so distressing, that her son has started self-harming and has spoken to a psychologist about taking his own life.
"There's a lack of mental health services available in the Bundaberg area too and if you can convince someone to take your child on, you have to pay a lot of money and I don't have upwards of $140 available," the single mother said.
"I've taken my son to places before and this isn't me being melancholy, but you're instantly treated like you have done something wrong and you feel judged and ostracised when you're just trying to be proactive and help."
She met with the school's principal yesterday, who she says advised her that this issue could happen regardless of where she sent her child in Bundaberg and recommended reporting cyber crime to the police.
But the Bundy mum said she has raised this issue with police only to be told she needs to submit the evidence online and although she requested a liaison police officer attend the school meeting, this did not happen. The exasperated mother has threatened to send her child to a rural area.
"This is my life and every single day, I wake up to this living nightmare," she said.
"I have gone to the school for this issue so many times now that you see the staff's faces deflate when they see me coming - I'm like the mascot of cyber-bullying at Kepnock State High School.
Education Queensland response
EDUCATION Queensland says Kepnock School officials have met with the parent of a student to discuss her concerns, but reject the school suggested her child be moved.
"Kepnock State High School is committed to providing a safe, respectful and disciplined learning environment," an Education Queensland spokesperson said. "Any situation that threatens the safety and well-being of students or others in the school community is treated extremely seriously, and dealt with as a matter of priority.
"IPads are not a compulsory part of the school teaching and learning process. Facebook and other social media are restricted on all school networks and devices.
"The school has a strict policy that personal mobile phones may not be used during school hours except for emergencies and other parental communication."
Education Queensland said any students breaching these rules, or who are involved in bullying incidents, will be dealt with in line with the school's Responsible Behaviour Plan but said no further details could be provided due to student privacy issues.
"Kepnock State High School does not tolerate bullying and violence and has implemented a range of pastoral care programs and initiatives across all year levels and participates in the annual National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence," they said.
"The school has also implemented a school-wide Positive Education program that explicitly teaches students expected behaviours (including anti-bullying) and offers support to students through a range of support staff, including a guidance officer, school chaplain and student advisors."
Education Queensland said students and caregivers with concerns were encouraged to report cases of bullying or misconduct to the principal or their closest department office.
If you or someone you know is struggling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.