Cyberbullying Rates Have Doubled In The Past Year

Mental health experts say a national strategy to deal with cyberbullying is well overdue.

Cyberbullying is on the rise, with more than one-in-three young people being bullied online.

Among 14 to 16-year-olds, reported cyberbullying has doubled in the last 12 months from 18 percent to 36 percent.

Teenagers between 17 and 19 however, experienced the highest prevalence of online bullying where a whopping 43 percent of all bullying happens online.

These alarming numbers were revealed on Sunday in a new survey conducted by mental health organisation ReachOut Australia. The survey involved 1000 young people aged between 25-14 and aimed to uncover how bullying is being experienced.

The undeniable result is that cyberbullying is getting worse.

"We are seeing that is this an issue that is not getting any better and we are really calling on the government and industry to really say ‘time's up’. We have got to get serious about this and we have got to tackle it now," ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said.

READ MORE: The Cyberbullying Talk Parents Must Have With Their Kids

National bullying statistics obtained by ReachOut showed in 2016  -- of the bullying being reported, 25 percent was occurring online, with 52 percent happening on a school premises, and the remainder at at work.

One year late, online bullying jumped to represent over one third of cases --  and both school and work bullying dropped.

Online bullying is on the rise. Image: Reach Out Australia
More Social Platforms Means More Bullying

Nicholas said one of the key reasons for the rapid growth in online bullying is the increasing number of platforms available to young people. These include more traditional sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and increasingly, video games that have a chat function built into them.

"We see now, for example, with the growth of online gaming --the 'fortnite' game that has taken Australian kids by storm -- that has chat that is built into that game. So for many parents what they are seeing is an expanding risk-base," Nicholas said on Sunday.

READ MORE: Is Bullying Worse In The Bachelor Mansion Or Australian Politics?

Games with a chat functions is just another way online bullying can be experienced. Image: Getty Images.

National Safety Standards Needed To Hold Online Bullies Accountable

Nicholas called on both industry and government leaders to front the charge and says Australia needs national safety standards -- which includes making perpetrators accountable.

"We need to keep focused on individual behaviours, we need to support young people and families to keep themselves safe online," Nicholas said.

"We have to look at what are the penalties, how do we keep people safe online and how do we penalise people who are harming our young people."

National standards will keep online bullies accountable. Image: Getty Images.

Nicholas said current efforts to make online spaces safer for young people simply aren't going far enough because cyber bullying numbers are increasing.

"Cyber bullying is the leading concern of Australian parents," Nicholas said.

Contact Siobhan at skenna@networkten.com.au