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Banning bullying apps not the answer

A young girl has been overwhelmed by the response to an online petition to call out her tormentors. (Stock image) Source: AAP

A petition to ban an app with potential for bullying has reached more than 102,000 names while a cyberhate expert suggests more can be done.

A petition to ban an app with potential for online bullying has amassed more than 103,000 signatures in five days, but a cyberhate expert says the proposal would have little impact on a much bigger problem.

The petition started by a Queensland mother Katrina, who does not disclose her last name, gained huge traction following the tragic death of Northern Territory teen Dolly Everett who took her own life.

"I do not want my daughter or any other to become the next Dolly," the Rockhampton mother wrote in the petition's description which aims to ban anonymous feedback app Sarahah.

Journalist Ginger Gorman, who is writing a book on cyberhate and has been a victim herself, believes banning apps and social media for children is not the answer.

"It's not practical, there are thousands of apps, with new platforms springing up every day," Gorman told AAP.

"It's also crucial for vulnerable kids to have access to social media because they often find support networks there. We shouldn't deprive them of that opportunity."

Gorman said Dolly's death was "absolutely devastating" and understands why it prompted fear from parents, but unfortunately the issue is bigger than a single app - it's breaking an attitude in society.

"We are not taking it serious enough," Gorman said.

"If you are getting attacked online it is real life, they are credible threats. Everybody should feel safe online."

Gorman believes just as the conversation around domestic violence has improved so can the norms around cyberbullying.

She said it's "crucial" people speak out about what they are experiencing, but we should not blame the victim.

"I have been a cyberhate target and so have my family. You are so terrified for yourself and your kids," Gorman said.

"You don't know where the person is. It's terrifying."

She suggests teaching children resilience, using resources like the eSafety Commissioner website on digital safety and having parents be aware of their child's online activity, by learning how to use the apps themselves.

Gorman says so much more can be done including further government legislation, education for law enforcement and platforms taking responsibility for an issue that is affecting all ages.

"Cyberhate can happen to anyone," she said.

"We have to take it more seriously - now."

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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