This article is from the November 4, 2018 issue of The Herald Sun Digital Edition.
IN films, the stalker is typically a shadowy figure who lurks in bushes or stealthily tip-toes behind their prey.
But with children now spending more time in “online playgrounds” , through phone apps and social media, parents are finding it more difficult to spot the real dangers.
Gippsland siblings Matilda, 12, and Brock, 14, said they were lucky to have support from their teachers and parents when teasing escalated to bullying and then stalking.
Matilda was in grade 3 when she began being followed and tormented by other girls.
The persistent pestering lasted six months and the once-bubbly youngster became withdrawn and afraid to go to school.
“I felt scared because they were always there,” she said.
“I don’t think anyone deserves that.”
Now in grade 6, Matilda has witnessed bullying move from the schoolyard to online where it is more difficult for parents to monitor activity.
Parents Leigh and Kelly said they tried to remain open with their children and thought it important to stay up to date with new apps.
They backed their children’s school’s decision to ban phones at lunchtime and recess.
“We’ve always told them to be honest with us and that they can always come to us,” Kelly said.
What to do?
- Document the stalking, including saving messages and taking screenshots of online comments
- Parents should monitor phone and internet use and learn about new apps popular with children
- Block the person and do not engage
- Raise the issue with the school
- Contact police
- Seek advice from your doctor
- Call Victims of Crime helpline on 1800 819 817