Students slam CHB 'confess' site

By Morgan Tait

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Students at a Hawke's Bay school say malicious Facebook pages set up to spread explicit rumours about their peers can have dangerous effects on teen lives.

The latest Facebook page to cause controversy, Central Hawkes Bay Confess, followed in the footsteps of pages that prompted warnings from authorities and mental health experts earlier this year.

The page, now removed from Facebook, used an anonymous administrator to post updates about local teens, using their full names to publicly disclose intimate and malicious rumours.

The CHB page affiliated itself with Central Hawke's Bay College, and targeted students there.

Central Hawke's Bay teenagers, who asked not to be named, told Hawke's Bay Today the pages were blatant cyber-bullying, set up by "low lives" just to make others miserable.

The pages can have serious effects on those targeted.

"Some find it entertaining, some find it extremely painful. To find out the truth about something through [Facebook] sucks.

People put their lives on the line over this mud."

Students said it affected some teens more than others.

"I used to find it entertaining until I found what it was doing to people, now more and more confession pages are getting made talking more lies.

"On Facebook they act like they don't care, until you see their status [and they're] writing depressing stuff about what's been said about them."

The students had heard of teens self-harming because of the pages, and did not want that to happen in their community.

"Some girl already killed herself because of these pages, we don't need anyone from central doing that."

Central Hawke's Bay College principal Lance Christiansen said the school was aware of the page - and others - so had it removed and made a complaint to Waipukurau police.

"We are aware of it and have had similar versions of them shut down in the past, this one is just the latest version I gather," he said.

"We can't tell who started these things and I believe they have been across other areas of Hawke's Bay."

He said Facebook was blocked on school computers, and there was an emphasis to educate students and parents on appropriate internet use and safety.

"It's the perils of having modern technology in schools. The thing about these things is that they have got nothing to do with schools purely because they can't access it while they are here.

"We teach them how to manage [bullying] and how to use technology in the correct way. Because it is becoming more common now most students do seem to be a little wiser about how they use technology.

"Basically these things happen from time to time and the school has already warned parents to be aware of what their kids are doing, and it is even some of the parents who are aware that have alerted us to it before."

Earlier this year, Hawke's Bay police said local teens had faced legal action over behaviour on social media sites, as activity could constitute harassment.

Child psychotherapist Dianne Lummis also said earlier this year that cyber-bullying has serious impacts on mental health and is a growing issue.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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