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New online technology aims to change bullying behaviour

Around 463,000 young people are bullied online in Australia each year with victims being impacted by cyber-bullying to the point where some engage in self-harm and suicidal ideation.* The National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, Australia’s largest anti-bullying event in schools will be held on 18 March, and a new technology has been launched to help prevent online bullying. 

reword is the first technology of its kind in Australia. It works by identifying cruel or intimidating words in real time to prompt online users to reword their message or post. 

Similar to spellcheck functionality, a red line appears through words to highlight bullying behaviour, encouraging online users to reconsider their choice of words.

Chris Tanti, CEO of headspace, Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, said, “Sadly, online bullying is endemic. We’re encouraged that this is a tangible online tool that will genuinely help change behaviour and reduce incidents of bullying.” 

Testing has shown that 79 per cent of young people (12-25 years) are willing to reword when they see the red line. 

“The pressures on children in social media are intense. reword is one way we can help empower them in real time,” he added. 

The tool also encourages the online population to collaborate and become co-authors of new bullying terms, giving them ownership over reword while building the tool’s intelligence and lexicon. Youth groups have been heavily involved in the creation and testing of the tool and three schools in Melbourne are piloting reword. 

The technology was created by Leo Burnett Melbourne in partnership with headspace

Adults and young people alike are being encouraged to download the free tool of 18 March by visiting: http://www.reword.it

Media contact: Michael Bennett 0413 025 385 MBennett@headspace.org.au