Today is Safer Internet Day 2021 aiming at celebrating the positive aspects of being online, creating a better and safer internet experience for everyone.
We are committed to seeing people not only contributing well in their communities but flourishing in safe environments. That includes online spaces.
2020 saw online platform usage skyrocket across the world and while it enabled people everywhere to keep connecting with family and friends in times of physical and social isolation, it also became apparent that the unacceptable prevalence of online abuse also escalated. Research has shown that women are disproportionately targeted for online abuse and children and youth are particularly vulnerable to abuse in online gaming, unwanted contact from unknown persons and cyberbullying.
As a church we recognise the critical work ESafety Commission is doing in helping us all create safer environments for people in online spaces.
The e-Safety website has a host of incredibly helpful tips and resources to assist you: from tips for parents in how to manage online time with children and the challenges to be aware of, to keeping yourself safe with managing settings and reporting abuse.
For parents who are looking for ways to help their children engage safely online, the eSafety office have created some wonderful new resources for young children and releasing new research for teens.
If you are the target of online abuse remember, it is not your fault. Never be afraid to speak up and ask for help. You are not on your own, and there are practical steps you can take to protect yourself and to deal with the abuse.
It’s also helpful to reflect on these:
- Remind yourself that your value and worth is not based on the opinions of others.
- Switch off your device. Go for a walk or do something that refreshes you and brings you peace before responding to any comments that have been hurtful or abusive
- Talk to a trusted friend, family member or health professional – especially if you feel things are getting overwhelming
- Be kind to yourself. Practice good self-care through exercise, sleep, relaxation and good nutrition.
- Be informed. Be prepared. Do your research before commenting on issues or stories. Be respectful as you contribute to discussions.
- Be an advocate. Be a role model and advocate for safely speaking up and showing support to others who are experiencing online abuse.
May our words and actions be quick to encourage, build up, comfort and support one another in our everyday encounters and online.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 ESV
If you are in danger right now, contact police on Triple Zero (000).
For non-emergencies, you can call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 or contact your local police station.
Other helplines available:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kidshelpline: 1800 55 1800
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800 273 8255
Samaritans: 116 123