Monday, 24 June 2013
Private Members' Business
Could I just say how much I agree with the previous speaker, the member for Makin, on how serious an issue this issue is. Five minutes does not really give you enough time to address it. It is a very important debate, and I congratulate the member for Forrest for having the initiative, the energy and the get up to put this on the Notice Paper and put it before us today, because it is a very important discussion. As we have heard from previous speakers, including my good friend and colleague the member for Hasluck, it is an issue that is well worth us debating because, especially when it comes to people who use very devious means through the cyber network to groom, it is a very dangerous thing. With more and more children today spending more and more time on their computers looking at social media sites, it is important that we do what we can to ensure that our children are as safe as possible. I think that goes to the heart of what the member for Forrest is trying to do in bringing this private member's bill forward. At any stage where our children are vulnerable to people who have extremely dangerous motives we need to be doing what we can to make sure that they are protected. That is what the member for Forrest is looking to do here.
Whether we like it or not as a community social networking is here to stay. It is very much becoming part of our children's lives. One only has to look at our political life—we are seeing much more Facebook, Twitter, webpages. They are all being used to get across political messages and being used as campaigning tools. If we are doing it, then of course younger generations are going to do exactly the same thing and they are going to use these networks more and more. We have to be aware of that and we have to understand that this is new technology which presents new dangers. We are seeing instances where bullying is going on and where severe peer group pressure is being put on people, especially young children. Young students are feeling very isolated, very sensitive and are feeling they are being bullied in a similar way to the way bullying occurred in the school yard. All of us who went through school have seen bullying occur in one form or another. It is not nice; it is not pleasant. At least when it is being done physically there is the opportunity for people to see, be aware and step in and influence, whereas one of the real dangers of cyber bullying is that it can remain hidden and it is extremely difficult for people to see or understand what is going on and to be able to intervene. One of the really insidious things about cyber bullying is that it can occur over a long period of time and it is very hard to detect.
The member for Forrest has done us all a favour by putting this bill on private member's business. I commend previous speakers, including the member for Hasluck, who did such an excellent job with his five-minute speech. This is an issue that will continue to be discussed and to be dealt with in a careful way.