Online Abusive Behaviour against Girls Requires Community Response

Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) Chief Executive, Michelle Green, says that a predatory internet site exposes the need for a community-wide response to abusive attitudes towards women and girls.

In a statement, Ms Green said:

Independent Schools Victoria is deeply concerned by media reports of an online site posting images of young women and girls from schools across Australia.

The site names schools from all sectors – government, Independent and Catholic – in all states.

The website’s content, reported to include graphic images, individual names and other identifying detail, is deeply troubling and likely to involve criminal behaviour.

Police are investigating the site, which according to media reports is hosted overseas.

Since learning of the site, ISV has been in touch with the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training and the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority, who are cooperating with Victoria Police.

Independent schools named on the site are supporting affected students and cooperating with police in their investigation.

It should go without saying that this site and the behaviour involved are totally unacceptable on many levels. It involves abusive and predatory activity that exposes a gross lack of respect for women and girls.

All schools in all sectors run programs to teach students about respectful relationships, cybersafety and to help them respond to unacceptable online behaviour.  ISV supports its Member Schools to deal with these issues, with resources, advice and seminars.

It’s clear, however, that not all of these messages are having the intended aim and that more needs to be done.

We will work with all sectors of school education to review these programs and improve them where necessary.

It’s also clear that this is not solely an issue for schools. Rather, it involves our entire community, including parents who need to be more aware of their children’s online activity.

The fundamental issue raised by the content of this site relates to misogyny – entrenched abusive attitudes of some men and boys towards women and girls. Schools work to change these attitudes – but they can’t do it on their own.