A mobile phone ban in schools could potentially reduce cyberbullying but it won't stamp out the problem completely, a youth mental health worker in Dubbo believes.
Phones will be banned in all Victorian public schools from the start of the 2020 school year, the state's education minister announced earlier this week.
His decision was backed by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan who encouraged other states and territories to bring in a ban because he thought phones were a distraction in the classroom.
"It's very difficult for teachers to teach when they are trying to discipline against the constant use of mobile phones," he said.
Amy Mines, Headspace Dubbo's community and youth engagement coordinator, backs a ban.
"I don't know that phones have a role to play for young people at school," she said.
"I understand people need phones to be able to be contactable outside our schools but I know there's plenty of schools who have offered safes and lockers to store phones in so they can use them after school."
Ms Mines said social media apps and mobile phones were increasingly being used to bully people.
This is contributing to a spike in the number of young people presenting to Headspace with bullying-related trauma, she said.
"Most of the cyberbullying we see starts off in the playground and then is taken online after hours," she said.
"Technology has made it harder for people to escape.
"Whilst I totally agree that there shouldn't be any phones at school... that's one part of a bigger problem."
She said parents and schools should work together to deal with bullying, and services like Headspace could help families identify signs and symptoms of bullying.
"It's very easy for us to blame the bully, but we also need to look at who was around and who was witnessing the bullying, especially with online.
"If you've got friends sending snaps to someone that are harassing and you're sitting by watching that happening then technically you're as bad as the person hitting send on that message."
People who using social media should think twice before hitting send and consider the consequences of what they are doing, Ms Hines suggested.
"With Snapchat and things like that, once you send it you can't see it anymore but that's not to say someone hasn't taken a screenshot of it or has other ways of capturing that evidence.
"People need to be thinking a lot more before they do these things because it will catch up with them and there are a lot of concerned citizens in our community that are ready to collect evidence and do what needs to be done with it."
Parents should also be mindful of the example they set for their children.
"As adults we need to be mindful of our own online behaviour and what we are role modelling to our young people and if we wouldn't say comments or share opinions directly to people, face-to-face, should we really be airing these online," Ms Mines said.
Headspace advice for parents and guardians to follow when talking to a young person about cyberbullying
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