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Destroying Avalon facts for kids

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Destroying Avalon.jpg
First edition
Author Kate McCaffrey
Country Australia
Language English
Genre novel
Set in Perth
Publisher Fremantle Arts Centre Press
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 264
ISBN 9781921064579

Destroying Avalon is a 2006 children's novel by Australian author Kate McCaffrey. The story follows fourteen-year-old Avalon as she moves from the country to an urban high school.

In 2006, the book was the winning entry in the "Young Adult's Books" category of the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards. In 2010, the book was added to the optional reading list for the New South Wales HSC English syllabus in Australia.


Cyber bullying

A survey conducted in Australia found that 42 percent of girls aged between 12 and 15 reported being intimidated or denigrated online or via mobile phone messaging. This is one of the negative sides of modern technology like the Internet. The author's novel Destroying Avalon focuses on the new and destructive phenomenon of cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying, for the 'always on' generation is a 24/7 deal. Traditional bullying victims are safe once they reach their homes. But with this technology the harassment is never ending, overwhelming and soul destroying. One of the main reasons behind the increasing incidence of cyber bullying is that this generation use technology in a vastly different way to the older generations. Where an adult might log on to check a bank account, pay a bill or send a reminder to someone, teenagers are using it to socialise. They cannot turn their phones off or not log onto the Net, because if they do they exclude themselves from their social group. And whereas traditional bullying stopped when the bell sounded at 3.30pm cyber bullying is relentless, continuing into the night and on weekends.

Another characteristic of this form of bullying is the anonymity it provides. It allows kids who probably would not engage openly in such behaviour an opportunity to hide behind the faceless nature of the internet and torment others. These are the sort of kids who probably would not bully face to face because they would not like to see the pain on the victim's face, or because they do not want to get caught. Cyber bullying – particularly in chat rooms – takes on a Lord of the Flies mentality: it whips the kids into frenzy. They find themselves sucked in because everyone else is doing it and no one knows who they are!

What they do not know is they can get caught. Stomp through the World Wide Web and you will leave footprints. Make death threats and the police can charge you; the law is constantly evolving to incorporate cyber crime. Unfortunately, victims of bullying, traditional-style and cyber, suffer in silence. Fear of further reprisal and lack of faith in any form of justice or help keeps their mouths shut. Their secrecy, in turn, allows bullies to continue.

Cyber bullying in this novel

In the novel, Avalon becomes the target of a campaign of cyber harassment. Throughout the novel, Avalon experiences many of the forms of cyber bullying outlined in Campbell (2005) "Cyber Bullying: An Old Problem in a New Guise?" Australian Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 15(1). 68-73.

The bullying is relentless, continuing into the night and on weekends. Avalon also has to deal with the publicity around her abuse as students in the school publicly mock her.

McCaffrey's inspiration

Before McCaffrey became a full-time writer she was a high school teacher. The last school she worked in was a technology school, and it was at this school she saw the beginnings of cyber bullying. Kids were using email and internet accounts to sledge other kids. Teachers had to attend IT sessions to help 'catch up' with the students' advanced computer knowledge.

According to McCaffrey, "one day, when I was working on a different novel, I saw a talk show with a young American girl telling the host about the ordeal she'd just endured at her school. She spoke about the kids creating blog sites to spread rumours about her, the constant threatening emails and text messages, how there was no escape from it... I put aside my current work and quickly penned the outline of Destroying Avalon."

She has also written that, "My initial purpose of Destroying Avalon was to raise awareness. It was to create a book that made people shake their heads in disbelief and say "Is that really happening?" I wanted teachers, parents, and decision makers to see how serious the situation is and say "What can we do it about it?" I wanted education programs in place, measures taken to reduce the 'anonymity' the internet provides by preventing access to sites with only a web-based email account. I wanted accountability. I wanted parents to put in place tighter restrictions on their kids' mobile phone access, I wanted to draw attention to it and work towards a solution. Because at the moment there isn't one, this thing has the potential to explode."

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