Laura Polson and Shae McDonald
(Australian Associated Press)
A cyber-hate expert says a proposal to ban an app that could aid online bullying is not the solution and instead societal attitudes need to change.
Queensland mum Katrina, who has not disclosed her last name, started a petition to ban anonymous feedback app Sarahah following the tragic death of Northern Territory teen Dolly Everett, who took her own life.
“I do not want my daughter or any other to become the next Dolly,” she wrote on the online page.
The petition has received more than 100,000 signatures in less than one week.
But journalist Ginger Gorman, who is writing a book on cyber-hate and has been a victim herself, told AAP it was not practical to ban one social media app as there were new platforms being introduced every day.
“It’s also crucial for vulnerable kids to have access to social media because they often find support networks there,” she said on Monday.
“We shouldn’t deprive them of that opportunity.”
Ms Gorman said she understood why Dolly’s “devastating” death had made parents fearful, but an attitudinal shift was needed to address cyberbullying.
“We are not taking it serious enough,” she said.
“If you are getting attacked online it is real life, they are credible threats. Everybody should feel safe online.”
Ms Gorman said teaching children resilience, using resources like the eSafety Commissioner website on digital safety and having parents be aware of their child’s online activity would help.
She also suggested further government legislation, education for law enforcement and platforms taking responsibility for an issue that affected people of all ages.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for young people aged 5 to 25).