AMA welcomes new concerted action to address bullying

3 Aug 2012

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA welcomes the initiatives and recommendations of the Anti-Bullying Forum, which was convened in Canberra this week by the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth, Peter Garrett.

The Forum brought together teachers, parents, young people, and experts in education, child welfare, psychology and marketing to discuss ideas to address bullying in schools.

Dr Hambleton said the Forum had produced a commendable list of ideas for action in schools and within families, and the outcomes were valuable additions to broader strategies to address bullying more widely in the community.

“Schools have an important role to play in the prevention of bullying, and many schools are making concerted efforts to prevent and address the problem,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Unfortunately, bullying is not limited to school. Cyber bullying can occur at any place and at any time.

“Young people may be reluctant to disclose that they are being affected by cyber bullying, and may look beyond their parents and teachers for confidants with whom to share and discuss their problems.

“Doctors are a trusted and confidential source of information for young people and their families who are experiencing bullying, including cyber bullying.

“The physical and mental health consequences for those who are bullied are serious.

“Victims of bullying can become traumatised, anxious and seriously depressed, and sometimes these problems can continue through to adulthood.

“Doctors can help reassure children and young people that they are not alone in their experience, and that help is readily available.”

Dr Hambleton said that Minister Garrett earlier this year launched AMA brochures to inform and assist young people and medical professionals to deal with issues arising from bullying.

A brochure for older children and adolescents, Bullying: What you need to know, explains what bullying is, provides specific information on cyber bullying, and gives advice about how to deal with being bullied and how to identify bullying behaviours.

A second brochure, AMA Guidance for Doctors on Childhood Bullying, contains a childhood bullying fact sheet for medical professionals who are interested to know more about childhood bullying and its health impacts.

“We want young people to know that they can talk about bullying with their family doctor, and we want to make sure that doctors are equipped with easily accessible information and advice to help their young patients,” Dr Hambleton said.


  • Research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found students who were bullied had almost a two-fold increase in the likelihood of depressive symptoms the following year;
  • While schools can work towards the prevention of face to face bullying, cyber bullying that happens outside the school setting is an increasing problem
  • Cyber bullying can take a number of forms including sending threatening text messages or emails; circulating untrue, embarrassing or hurtful information by sms, email or social networking sites; emailing or posting altered images; sending a virus or spy ware or taking on someone’s identity online and damaging their reputation;
  • Cyber bullying can involve a wide audience, the person being bullied may have little or no respite from online bullying, and the person or people doing the bullying may have some element of anonymity;
  • According to a January 2012 study by the Ipsos Social Research Institute, of the 24 countries surveyed Australia was the worst place for bullying over social networks, and the fifth for bullying online (this means that Australians were more likely to bully on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter than in chat rooms or on mobile phones);
  • A survey conducted by BoysTown found that the most prevalent forms of cyber bullying were name calling (80 per cent), abusive comments (67 per cent), and spreading rumours (66 per cent);
  • Recent research suggests that 10 to 15 per cent of students have experienced cyber bullying more than once (experience from the US and the UK suggests that this could increase to 30 to 40 per cent);
  • In a survey conducted for the recent Government Inquiry into Cyber Safety, 8.8 per cent of survey participants (15,592) admitted that they had cyber bullied someone else. Of those, 66 per cent reported that they had also been the victim of cyber bullying;
  • Research commissioned by Microsoft in 2008 found that 83 per cent of parents did not know what to do if a child was being cyber bullied, and two out of three were unsure of the best ways to help their children; and
  • Facebook has introduced tools that aim to reduce cyber bullying (and identify those people who may be at risk of suicide). 

Bullying: What you need to know is at

AMA Guidance for Doctors on Childhood Bullying is at

Schools and medical practices can obtain hard copies of the brochures by contacting the Federal AMA at or

The National Anti-Bullying Forum Communiqué is at



01 August 2012

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