What the research says

The Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study CHPRC, conducted by Edith Cowan University May 2009 found that:

    • Cyber bullying was defined by young people as cruel covert bullying used primarily by young people to harm others using technology such as: social networking sites, other chat-rooms, mobile phones, websites and web-cameras.
    • 7-10% of students reported they were bullied by means of technology through the school term.
    • Slightly higher rates of cyber bullying were found among secondary students and students from non-government schools.
    • Differences were found in each age group regarding the mode of technology most prevalent for cyber bullying in and out of school. More internet-based bullying through social networking sites was reported than through mobile phones, especially as students get older.
    • Cyber bullying appears to be related to age (or access to technology), with older students more likely to engage in cyber bullying than younger students.
    • Students reported that home cyber bullying is likely to be higher among older students especially if parents don’t have the knowledge and skills to help their child.
    • Cyber bullying differences were found in each year group (Year 4 to 9) regarding the mode of technology, with nasty messages more likely to be sent via the internet (most often through social networking sites) than via mobile phones, more especially as students get older.

    Source: Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study CHPRC,
    Edith Cowan University May 2009

    In Australia, the following descriptors were used to demonstrate how students exposed to cyber bullying were made to feel:
    • Isolated
    • Excluded
    • Challenged
    • Unsafe
    • Vulnerable
    • Rejected
    • Bewildered
    • Violated
    • Lonely
    • Powerless
    • Depressed
    • Threatened

    Source: Behind the Scenes: Insights into the Human Dimensions of Covert Bullying. Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies –
    University of South Australia Centre for the Analysis of Educational Futures – Flinders University, SA December 2008.

    Table 16: Racial Discrimination Act – complaints received by area
    Racial Discrimination ActTotalPercentage (%)
    Rights to equality before the law-
    Access to places and facilities31
    Land, housing, other accommodation122
    Provision of goods and services9118
    Right to join trade unions
    Incitement to unlawful acts2
    Other – section 920541
    Racial hatred7715
    Total* An area is recorded for each ground, so one complaint may have multiple and different areas.503100

    Source: Annual Report, Australian Human Rights Commission 2008-09.

    Table 20: Racial hatred complaints received by sub-area
    Racial Discrimination ActTotalPercentage (%)
    Media – press/TV/radio57
    Disputes between neighbours34
    Personal conflict101013
    Racist propaganda23
    Internet – email/webpage/chat room68
    Public debate11
    Provision of goods and services2229
    Total* One sub-area is recorded for each racial hatred complaint received.77100

    According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, complaints of internet-based racism and racial vilification have been growing in recent years (18% in 2008/09). These figures only include complaints finalised by the Commission. It is expected that the majority of online racist vilification is either not reported, or is reported directly to the software provider.

    Research undertaken in mid western United States shows that online race discrimination is frequent. Surveys show that at least 67% of adolescents have experienced racial discrimination online at least once. 34 % of participants who responded said the discrimination occurred in more than one location, the most common being via text message and social networking sites. This study also showed that online racial discrimination was related to increased levels of anxiety and depression.

    Source: Brendesha M. Tynes, Ph.D.a,b, Michael T. Giang, M.S.c, David R. Williams, Ph.D, M.P.Hd, and Geneene N. Thompson, B.A. (2008),
    ‘Online Racial Discrimination and Psychological Adjustment Among Adolescents’, Journal of Adolescent Health 43 (2008) 565-569

    Further information is available in the research section of the eSafety commissioner website. Research topics include:

    • Australia in the Digital Economy: research report series
    • Click and connect: Young Australian’s use of online social media
    • Developments in internet filtering technologies and other measures for promoting online safety
    • Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007
    • Media and Communications in Australian families series of short reports