PRINCIPALS have been given more powers to suspend students from school if they are caught cyber-bullying their peers while at home.
The NSW Education Department has expanded its suspension policy to better cover incidences of cyber-bullying that occur outside of school but surface at school.
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It’s one of a number of new anti-bullying measures in state schools including a specific anti-bullying policy with clear guidelines to stand alongside its discipline policy.
Four Hunter and Central Coast schools will take part in a statewide trial at 23 schools of an online bullying and reporting system.
The trial, to report next year, will allow students to send bullying reports to teachers through the use of a dedicated email address so the matter can be followed up.
Whitebridge High is one of the schools taking part.
Principal Ian Wilson said that while bullying was a part of growing up, technology and social media meant bullying and harassment could occur outside as much as inside of school.
The education department said principals had always had power to intervene over incidents outside school if it affected the school but a revision of its suspension and expulsion procedures this year had put more emphasis on the extent of the principals’ powers.
Ashtonfield Public School principal Narelle Ryall told parents recently that students using Facebook had been an ongoing problem.
Parent education expert Michael Grose welcomed the education department’s move. He said cyber bullying meant children could not feel safe at home.
‘‘The issue with bullying in cyberspace is it’s very impersonal, kids can feel very brave,’’ he said.
‘‘They will say and do things they wouldn’t normally because they can’t see a reaction.’’
He said studies suggested 13per cent of bullying happened online and the rest at school.