Cyber bullying: 'We didn't know the dangers' of online world
WHEN his 17-year-old son Allem took his own life nine years ago Ali Halkic struggled to understand why it had happened.
It was not until police investigated that the insidious truth was revealed: that he had become the target of a "so-called friend of his who used social media to harass him and bully him".
They found a consistent series of threats to hurt Allem, messages which sparked a chain of events which ultimately changed the lives of Ali and his partner Dina in the most horrific way imaginable on February 5, 2009.
"It all evolved on that night," Mr Halkic said.
"Within a couple of hours (the threats) took him out of the home, he went to try and deal with this and... he ended up taking his life."
It is a story which every parent's worst nightmare, and this week Mr Halkic will be in Gympie to speak to the community about it.
A guest speaker at the Bullying Prevention and Cyber Safety Prevention session to be held at the Gympie Civic Centre, Mr Halkic has pushed for legislative change ever since that fateful night.
And he has already had success.
"Allem was found as the first person in Australia to be recognised as the victim of crime after committing suicide," Mr Halkic said.
While the Allem's stalker pleaded guilty to the charge in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in 2010, he avoided jail and was instead given an 18-month community-based order.
Since, Mr Halkic's fight has resulted in changes to Victorian law, with a similar charge now attracting a maximum 10 year jail sentence.
Now he hoped to bring the rest of Australia in line.
"These things happen in every state."
"The law has to be uniform right across Australia to send a clear message to everyone."
Mr Halkic said it was important that children who are bullied be given a voice and encouraged to report it to parents and teachers and "bring it to light, expose people for what it is".
And for those who sit behind their screens and keyboards, confident to stalk and spit bile online without care?
He said they needed to grasp the impact of their words.
"There are consequences to everyone's actions.
"If you're not prepared to... do it face to face, then you shouldn't do it online," he said.
And parents also had an important role to play.
"I think the concept of where we failed as a parent, was that your child is home and safe, we paid for his computer we paid for his phone - yet we didn't understand the dangers associated with giving him that access."
"Parents need to really monitor and jump on their social media, and understand (it)."
The Bullying Prevention and Cyber Safety Presentation will be held this Thursday, March 15.
Doors open from 6pm and entry is free.
* If you need help, phone Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or visit www.kidshelpline.com.au, or phone Lifeline on 131114.