A REDLAND school-based police officer and Cleveland's BABI Youth and Family Service have joined forces to delete cyber-bullying among teenagers.
The Stop Harassing Me Postcard pilot project has been so successful, it has spread to other regions in Queensland.
It was awarded a Police Commissioner's gold lantern prize for Excellence in Problem-Oriented and Partnership Policing in the Metropolitan South Region.
The idea for the project came three years ago when Senior Constable Nathan Vaughan, who is based at Victoria Point and Cleveland District high schools, and BABI youth workers Jo Clarke and Michele MacNamara, met to share their experiences of counselling victims of cyber-bullying.
Together, they devised a preventative education program to offer a positive resolution option for students who are subjected to acts of cyber-bullying the Stop Harassing Me Postcard.
Students who have experienced menacing or threatening comments or have seen offensive material about them posted on social networking sites can request to complete a Stop Harassing Me Postcard with a member of the school's support staff, such as deputy principals, guidance officers, or a school-based police officer.
The student completes details on the back once evidence of cyber-bullying has been verified. The postcard is then delivered to the cyber-bully by a member of the school's support staff. It explains that their actions are unwelcome, may be illegal and should stop immediately.
BABI youth worker Michele MacNamara, who designed the postcard, said cyber-bullying happened mostly outside school hours and many schools found dealing with online bullies confusing.
"The schools still have a duty of care (with their students) because the ramifications of cyber-bullying happens within the school grounds," she said.
"And there only seemed to be two options (before we started the project for students); one go to the school, or secondly go to the police."
Senior Constable Vaughan said the program had been introduced into all Redland state high schools and some private schools, such as Faith Lutheran College.
"Before cyber-bullying, if a student was bullied at school, they could go home to their room to their own sanctuary. But now, if they switch on their phone or computer it's there; it's still coming and that's bad news," Snr Constable Vaughan said.
"Now, however, if a cyber-bully is served with a postcard, and the bullying does continue, they (the victim) then have the option to go to the police," he said.
He said a recent survey that questioned 5500 students in the Wynnum District found that 70 per cent of all students would use the postcard if they were cyber-bullied.
"We've only had one postcard breached, but after we had a mediation session with their parents the bullying stopped. The postcard project is working."
He said the success of the pilot program in the Redlands had seen it taken up in other regions through the Queensland Police Service including Mount Isa, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Logan and the Gold Coast.
However, Senior Constable Vaughan said funding had restricted the number of presentations he and BABI could make.
"We have recently received enquiries from throughout Australia, but BABI and I are restricted to the Redlands because of funding.
"We are sponsored by Redland City Council but if we could get a corporate sponsor, then we could take this project further," he said.
Senior Constable Vaughan said a short film about the project being made with Victoria Point High would be shown at future presentations.
For more information on the Stop Harassing Me Postcard project, contact BABI on 3488 2533 or visit www.stopharassingme.org.au.