Bullying is on the rise in the state’s central and far west, according to Interrelate area manager Anne Heath.
And the issue is widespread, with about one in five Australian year four students reporting being bullied almost weekly, according to recent global study.
In 2016, children as young as six contacted Kids Helpline with alarming reports of victimisation.
“From what we hear, bullying is actually becoming more prevalent in our communities,” Ms Heath said.
“One of the most significant things about social media is in the past children might have felt safe in their home – safe from bullying. But social media follows people into their homes as well.”
In NSW primary schools, Interrelate’s Say No To Bullying poster competition has given children a platform to talk about bullying.
More than 440 students from across western NSW have entered this year’s competition, with seven Dubbo region students chosen as highly commended for their designs.
A regional finalist will be chosen to represent western NSW at an event in Sydney on Monday, with all ten finalists’ designs to go on display in libraries across NSW.
More than 20,000 children have taken part in the poster competition since it began in 2014.
Ms Heath said the competition and The National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence on Friday were igniting conversations about bullying and respect.
“I think it’s really important to put bullying very clearly on the agenda, since it is such a significant issue in Australia,” she said.
“There’s a lot more media attention on bullying as well … and hopefully it gives children an opportunity to talk to their families about it as well.”
She urged anyone who felt they have been bullied – at school, online or in the workplace – to speak up.
“Talk to your teachers, talk to your parents, talk to your friends … but don’t feel that it’s your fault,” Ms Heath said.
“Bring it out into the open.”