THE worrying issue of cyber bullying was raised yesterday at the Ballina inquest into the death of Alex Wildman.
A friend from Alex Wildman's former school at Ingleburn, in south-western Sydney, told the inquest they had received 'nasty messages' via computer messaging software some time last year after Alex had moved to Lismore, believing the messages to be from Alex.
The youth, who cannot be identified, said via telephone that the messages had come from Alex's online account, but did not sound like something the Kadina High School student would say.
The youth said they then told Alex to stop talking to them, and that Alex couldn't understand why they were so upset. The youth said Alex denied sending the messages.
The youth alleged the eight or nine messages were sent by someone else who knew Alex's online password.
The youth also said that further messages were then sent via the internet to Alex's Sydney friends warning them to 'stay away' from Alex during his planned visit to Sydney in the school holidays in the weeks before his death in July last year.
But the youth told the inquest they did not report the messages, even during counselling sessions at their Sydney school after Alex's death. “I don't open up as well to counsellors,” the youth said.
The youth said that Alex had been a victim of bullying at his former school, saying they had seen Alex be 'pushed and pushed' and had heard 'nasty comments' hurled at him, but that Alex had given up reporting the incidents.
“Nothing was ever done - it kept happening,” the youth said.
“They (the bullies) got told off or got detention, but the same things kept happening.”
Kadina High School teacher and year adviser for Alex Wildman's year, Sheila Flatley, known by her middle name Jeanette, agreed with counsel assisting Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson, Peter Hamill, SC, that cyber bullying created new challenges for teachers as it could happen 24/7.
She said cyber bullying was covered by the school's anti-bullying policy, and students were given handouts every six months as part of an anti-bullying program at the school.
The inquest continues today.
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