Cyberbullying at school

In short

The initial problem

After two school friends fell out, one was subjected to cyberbullying and took out an intervention order.

The solution

Mediation through the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria identified the real issues behind the falling-out, and helped the students put an end to the cyberbullying and intervention orders.

The full story

The background

Grace and Sarah are both 15-year-old girls who attend the same school.

The problem

Grace became upset when Sarah started calling her names and posting nasty comments about her on Facebook. Grace’s mother was concerned that her daughter was being cyberbullied and applied for a personal safety intervention order against Sarah on her daughter’s behalf.

Sarah’s mother consulted her solicitor and responded by also applying to court for a personal safety intervention order against Grace. She said her daughter found Grace hostile and suffocating.

The court recommended that mediation be organised through the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

The mediation process

Both mothers contacted the Dispute Settlement Centre and a mediation session was organised with a Dispute Assessment officer.

Although both mothers were required to attend the session, everyone agreed that the main issues were between Grace and Sarah – who would feel more comfortable talking to each other without their parents in the room.

During mediation, Grace said Sarah’s Facebook posts really upset her and made her feel uncomfortable at school. Their mutual friends had also begun teasing her and writing unwelcome comments. Grace said she wanted the teasing to stop and their old friendship back.

Sarah said she was sorry for writing the comments on Facebook but also said that she had done it because she found Grace suffocating.

The mediator then held a private session with each of the girls, which explored ways to improve the situation.

The solution

The two girls agreed that, while their friendship wasn’t going to be as close as it once was, they would stop making hurtful comments online. Their mothers then joined the mediation session to listen to the agreement and discuss how it would work in practice.

Once the mothers were satisfied that that their daughters had resolved their issues, they both signed a more formal document, advising the court that their applications for intervention orders would be withdrawn.

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This page was last updated on May 14, 2014