International research has identified that women and girls are subjected to very high levels of online abuse simply because they are women. The federal office of the eSafety Commissioner has produced a range of resources to support women in understanding the different types of abuse and the pathways available to get help and support.
The eSafety website quotes a 2018 survey of Australian women aged 18-55, conducted by Ipsos MORI for Amnesty International, that found three in 10 women (30 per cent) had experienced online abuse or harassment. Nearly half (47 per cent) of those women who said they had experienced online abuse were aged 18 to 24. Thirty seven per cent of women who had experienced online abuse or harassment said that on at least one occasion these online experiences made them feel that their physical safety was threatened. 42 per cent had experienced online abuse or harassment said it was misogynistic or sexist in nature and a fifth said it had included threats of physical or sexual violence.
As stated on the eSafety website: “If you are the target of online abuse, remember it is not your fault. Everyone should be free to interact online without the fear of abuse.” Abuse can be reported to the social media service/platform it was posted on. Depending on the platform, you can generally block, report, ignore or mute the abuse. You can also report illegal and harmful content, cyberbullying and image-based abuse to eSafety at esafety.gov.au/report.
The eSafety guide provides information for a large range of social media apps and games. For each app or game it explains how to protect your information and report inappropriate content.
The office of the eSafety Commissioner has also developed a range of resources to support online safety with links for students, teachers and parents launched as an ‘open letter to Australia’s school principals and teachers‘. This post includes links to eSafety’s COVID-19 related blogposts for the online safety kit for parents and carers, protecting children from online abuse and keeping schools and learning safe online. There is also a link to their new 2-hour NESA-registered webinar for educators: “Online safety module — risks and protective factors”.
Federation advises members to ensure they are aware of not only the NSW Department of Education’s expectations and Social Media Policy but also understand the potential risks for public school teachers in using social media in their professional and private lives. See Federation’s information leaflet TR15 — Social Media and Electronic Communication.