Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Bay of Plenty schools work to tackle net bullies

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Cyberbullying seems to be done via text messaging and Facebook in the Bay of Plenty.
Cyberbullying seems to be done via text messaging and Facebook in the Bay of Plenty.

Most secondary schools have had cases of their students being cyberbullied.

That's the view of Mount Maunganui College deputy principal Ady van der Beek, who said the bullying mostly took place outside of school but had the potential to manifest inside school.

The college had tried to protect its students from cyberbullying through education and awareness.

"Students have presentations at assembly where the issue is addressed. They are informed of the nature of bullying, the harm it can cause and what they should do about it. The aim is to build emotional capital so that our students are empathetic to one another," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"Students are also encouraged to seek assistance if they feel they are being bullied, to speak out. Students are also informed that it is an offence to cyberbully anyone and that victims have the right to make a complaint to the police."

The main platform for cyberbullying was Facebook or text messages, he said.

Mr van der Beek said the college normally became aware of the issue through students reporting the bullying.

"If the bullying had a negative impact on a students' wellbeing at school then we are concerned. A range of options are available depending upon the situation. They involve communication with family, seeking the removal of offensive communications where applicable, restorative practice including support for the victim, contact with the police, and punitive outcomes."

Aquinas College principal Ray Scott said they had had the occasional issue at the school. "Kids using inappropriate texts. Simple texting or something through Facebook or other social media which can end in bullying. Getting on to it early seems to be the key."

"If something comes to us, we will deal with it and find out from the kids what's going on. Then we will alert parents or family members to what has happened and make sure it is resolved and sorted it out as soon as possible.

Mr Scott said the guidance councillor from the school would work with all the parties concerned. He said they tried to make children and their parents aware of their responsibilties to limit the issue.

What can I do to prevent cyberbullying?

• Be careful who you give your mobile number to and don't pass on friends' numbers without asking them first.
• Don't respond to texts from people you don't know. These can often be sent randomly to find people to bully.
• If you witness cyberbullying try to help the victim. You can offer them support, or report the bullying anonymously if that feels safer.
• Don't post revealing pictures of yourself or others online - they may get sent on and used to bully you or other people.
• Keep your online identity safe - create strong passwords with a mix of lower and upper case letters and numbers. Pick difficult answers for your "secret question" on your accounts that people who know you wouldn't easily guess.
• Don't share your password with anyone - even your friends.

- www. netsafe.org.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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