The place for Australian parents to report online abuse and cyber bullying

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What does the Australian community find acceptable for media to present to children? What might they be exposed to, and how can you help young people and their families manage the risks? Since my role as Australia’s acting eSafety Commissioner was introduced last year, we’ve created a number of projects and programs to act as a safety net for Australian children online.

I began my career working on documentary films and then moved to a position at the Australian Classification Board. There I saw a range of films, videos, computer games and police and customs seizures that told me a lot about what our society thought was acceptable – and what was not. Read more

The three important things all parents should know about social media

Social Media Mobile Apps

Social Media Mobile Apps. Photo: LoboStudioHamburg

How many parents who don’t hold a driver’s licence would attempt to teach their kids to drive? Would you teach your kid to ride a bicycle if you’d never been on one?

Social media is a well-entrenched reality in the lives of most kids. They’re accessing platforms like Facebook and Twitter from increasingly younger ages. As levels of computer and smartphone literacy also expand these platforms take in broader and younger demographics.

As with anything that can be risky for kids, experts in children’s behaviour always advise you to Read more

Parents, Kids & Social Media: Find Your Digital Spine

Snapchat Spine

Photo: Parentguides.com.au

In 2004 I wrote a book on the Internet and I made somewhat of a prediction. Call me Nostradamus. In the book I said there was a new world and I called it rather pathetically, Siberia. I said your children were early settlers in this new land and that this was potentially problematic because a lot of parents were standing on a metaphorical dock, waving goodbye to their children as they explored it.

I also said that I didn’t think staying on the dock was a very good idea because in Siberia what looks like a bank can sometimes be a robber. What looks like a friend can be a predator, and what looks like a game could be a trap. These are the pitfalls of the Internet and social media. Read more

A Guide to Australian Cyber-Bullying & Sexting Laws

Girl Crying

Photo: Counselling / Pixabay

Cyber-bullying is illegal in Australia, but working out what aspects are covered and how can be a challenge. Sexting, cyber-bullying and their related offenses are covered by a range of state, territory and federal laws. Some jurisdictions have specific anti-bullying laws, while others use existing laws to prosecute cases. Read more

A Parents Guide to Steroids

Gym Weights

Steroids and other performance and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDs) have long been associated with elite sportspeople desperate for an edge. PIEDs are used by people of all skill levels and ages, whether they want to boost their sporting performance or simply build muscle mass. Among the most notorious cases was champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour de France wins after admitting he took EPO (erythropoietin), which regulates red blood cell production.

PIED use is not common and in some cases steroids are used legitimately to treat medical conditions such as osteoporosis. Bu if used privately and without professional supervision they can have health implications. Steroids may be injected intramuscularly, taken orally or rubbed on the skin as a cream. Two per cent of Australian high-school students aged 12 to 17 say they have used steroids without a doctor’s prescription, with boys (2.4 per cent) slightly more likely than girls (1.5 per cent) to have tried them. Among the 1 per cent of students who tried steroids in the year before the 2011 survey, use was infrequent. Read more

We’re in this together

Firbank Panel Night

Parent Guides Panel Night at Firbank for Drugs 101

Our aim at Firbank is to help students develop the confidence, courage and skills they need to make their mark in their own world and in the world they will enter.

Firbank is a school where students not only aspire, but they ‘do’. It is the place where students, particularly adolescents, form the beliefs and values that will set them up for their life journey. Our school values of courage, respect, compassion, curiosity and integrity are key. But we have to live those values. And many of those values are pertinent to the issue tackled in Drugs 101. Read more

Relationships are key in preventing teen alcohol abuse

Dr Hanna Cheng

Psychologist, Dr Hanna Cheng

The Austin Hospital’s child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Hanna Cheng has specialised in this field for four years.

CAMHS at the Austin looks after children from zero to 18 years of age. We have a multidisciplinary team with clinical psychologists, nurses, occupational therapists, speech therapists, social workers, training registrars and psychiatrists.

A range of people refer children to us – parents, general practitioners, paediatricians, private psychiatrists and psychologists, schools and the Department of Human Services.

Initially we do an assessment to establish the presenting difficulties and one of our team takes on a care co-ordination role and looks at any psychological interventions received up to this point, social skills, drug and alcohol use, and family relationships. They meet with the school to work out a curriculum and to identify any special needs in that area. Read more

What do you do if your kids are drinking or doing drugs?

Rene de Sant'Anna - Odyssey House

Rene de Sant’Anna – Odyssey House

My core business is working with young people who are using substances and helping them to cut down or get off those substances. I’ve been working in this field for 22 years and the main substances kids use are the same – alcohol and cannabis. They may hav tried LSD, mushrooms, eccies (ecstasy) or cocaine, but their staple drug is usually cannabis or alcohol. Usually their parents refer them to me, and a young person is reluctant because they don’t see a problem – then we need to get that young person to a point where they also see their substance use is a problem.

People use drugs because they change the way they feel. The first time a young person uses they’ll have positive feelings and then they come back down to normal. So they use that drug again and then again because it feels good. Then something happens that wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t under the influence of that substance. Maybe a child misses school because they’re going to a friend’s house to smoke or drink, or they’re out late and the police bring them home, or they drink too much in the park, throw up and need an ambulance, or they can’t be bothered to go to football or netball. Read more

A Parents Guide to Hallucinogens

By Cheryl Critchley

Drugs 101 MushroomsHallucinogens, such as LSD, were popular with young people during the 1960s and 1970s “flower power” era. While many more drugs have been developed since, LSD is still available in Australia. Hallucinogen use among young people is relatively uncommon; about 3 per cent of Australian high-school students report having tried them.

Also known as “psychedelics”, hallucinogens can make you see, hear, smell, feel or taste things that aren’t really there or are different from reality, hence the word hallucinate. LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) is made in a laboratory and in its pure state is a white odourless powder. It usually comes in squares of gelatine or blotting paper that have been dipped or soaked in LSD and is sometimes sold as a liquid, in a tablet or capsules. LSD is usually swallowed, but it can also be sniffed, injected or smoked. Some plants, such as magic mushrooms, can cause similar hallucinations to chemically produced hallucinogens. Read more

A Parents Guide to Cocaine

By Cheryl Critchley

Drugs 101 CocaineCocaine has a reputation as the drug of choice for celebrities, but its effects can be far from glamourous. Cocaine can be dangerous if taken in high doses or contaminated by other substances. Snorting cocaine regularly can cause a runny nose and nosebleeds, infection of the nasal membranes, perforation of the septum and long-term damage to the nasal cavity and sinuses.

Only 1.7 per cent of Australian high-school students surveyed in the 2011 Australian secondary students’ survey had used cocaine, and only 1 per cent had used it in the past month. These levels have also fallen significantly since 2005, when almost 3 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds had tried it. Read more

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