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Body shaming, viral nudes, violent threats, hacked accounts, doctored images, and extreme nastiness—these are common occurrences online for too many young Australians.

As a proud partner of Stay Smart Online Week 2016, the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner is today launching Rewrite Your Story, a new, youth-focussed project that explores these issues using real-life experiences of young people facing cyberbullying.

“Through our cyberbullying complaints scheme, we regularly deal with issues like those featured in Rewrite Your Story, and we know firsthand the negative impacts these issues have on young people,” says Acting Children’s eSafety Commissioner, Andree Wright.

“We know cyberbullying continues to be a big issue for young people, with our research showing 19 per cent of Australians aged 14-17 have experienced cyberbullying in the 12 months to June 2016,” says Wright.

Central to the project are eight short films depicting instances of cyberbullying that are designed to empower young people to take action and rewrite their story of cyberbullying.

The first film released today—Connor’s Story—explores what happens when a seemingly harmless joke goes viral, and how the behaviour of a cyberbully can be the result of their own experience as a victim.

“The films are designed to be conversation starters—leading young people to discuss the serious implications and possible solutions to cyberbullying,” says Wright.

Rewrite Your Story also launches with a fresh, youth-focussed website featuring youth-written blogs, professional advice and an interactive quiz. Other complimentary resources include lesson plans for each short film, information for parents, and a series of visually engaging posters.

A Facebook Live event, streaming today from 11am AEDT, will feature teenage actors, bloggers and other young creatives who have contributed to Rewrite Your Story, discussing the burning questions emerging from Connor’s Story and their own online experiences.

“Young people often feel alone when they’re going through cyberbullying, but we want them to know if they report it to us, we’ll stand with them and remove the material” adds Wright.

The next short film in the Rewrite Your Story series will be released next month, with the other films to be rolled out over the next nine months.

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Backgrounder

Rewrite Your Story (RYS) is a youth-focussed initiative which explores cyberbullying and other online issues young people face.

Developed by the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, RYS features real-life cyberbullying stories, alongside advice and support about how to handle it. The program also provides essential information about how and when to report serious cyberbullying to the Office.

RYS is designed to empower young people to be courageous in the face of cyberbullying, guide them when they need, and help them to support their friends.

The program also provides essential information about how and when to report serious cyberbullying to the Office. The Office’s cyberbullying complaints scheme allows young people, parents and an authorised adult (such as a teacher) to report serious cyberbullying material and to get that material removed.

Rewrite Your Story includes:

  • a fresh, youth-focussed website at esafety.gov.au  which features the work of talented young artists, writers and creatives, as well as experienced professionals
  • conversation-starter videos looking at cyberbullying and its impact
  • useful teaching resources
  • a set of visually engaging posters suitable for libraries, classrooms or common areas
  • an innovative tool that walks young people through the situation they are experiencing and directs them to relevant resources, including how to report serious cyberbullying.

Facebook live event
We’re launching the first RYS short film ‘Connor’ via a Facebook Live discussion with teens. Hosted by youth writer Rosie, the group will include teenage actors from the RYS films, and other young creative who have contributed to the project. These special guests will be answering questions from our social media feeds and unpacking some of the issues raised in the ‘Connor’ film.

When: Today, 11am – 11.45am AEDST
Where: www.facebook.com/rewriteys

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