For immediate release
7 February 2018
MIEACT applauds cyber safety training initiative
Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT) has commended the Australian Government’s announcement yesterday that cyber safety training will be extended down to kindergarten level.
Children as young as four will be taught how to stay safe online, in a move designed to fight child exploitation, bullying and grooming through online games and subscriptions.
MIEACT executive officer and 2017 ACT Young Australian of the Year, Heidi Prowse, said it is important to teach children and young adults how to be resourceful when faced with online harassment.
“Young people need to be able to identify what is unacceptable and disrespectful behaviour towards others, how to protect themselves and where to get help if they find themselves on the receiving end,” she said today.
“Online activity is part of the everyday fabric of life in an Australian family. Teaching children this young will set a solid foundation by the time they enter their teenage years and begin to form lasting mentally healthy attitudes.”
The ThinkUKnow cyber safety program is run by the Australian Federal Police in conjunction with Microsoft Australia, Datacom and the Commonwealth Bank. It is delivered by state and federal police.
MIEACT is a Canberra not-for-profit that delivers mental health training to high schools and workplaces throughout the ACT.
“We are rolling out a bullying prevention program this year that supports victims, bystanders and the perpetrators themselves,” she said.
“While our program is aimed at students 12-18 years old, MIEACT supports the move to teach children cyber safety from the earliest possible stage; from the very first day they are granted access to tablets, phones and social media.”
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor yesterday announced the expansion of ThinkUKnow to include students in Kindergarten, Years One and Two, saying it comes in response to younger children accessing technology and law enforcement addressing incidents involving younger victims.
Fairfax Media reports research by the federal government’s e-Safety Commissioner shows 66 per cent of kids use YouTube, 56 per cent use Facebook, 53 per cent use Instagram and 30 per cent use Snapchat.
For teens, social media use grows to 90 per cent for Facebook, 70 per cent for YouTube and 58 per cent for Instagram.
Nearly 50 per cent of kids reported sharing photos of their face online, while about a quarter said they had shared their last name or real age.
“Online safety is crucial to developing mentally active and healthy children, and any training that pre-emptively addresses issues before they develop into lasting attitudes is a welcome advance in building a strong, emotionally healthy community.”
For more information about the program visit www.ThinkUKnow.com.au. If you are aged between five and 25 years and need assistance, you can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 . If you are an adult in distress, please call Lifeline Crisis Support on 13 11 14. If you would like to book mental health training for your child’s school or your workplace, please contact MIEACT (02) 6257 1195 or visit our website www.mieact.org.au .
For more information, please contact Kathy Brine (02) 6257 1195. Heidi Prowse is available for media interviews on 0422 622 127.