Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Victim's mum backs recommendations

Hayley-Ann Fenton. Photo / Martin Sykes
Hayley-Ann Fenton. Photo / Martin Sykes

The mother of a Rotorua teenager who took her own life after being cyber-bullied has been calling for the Law Commission's proposed changes ever since.

Lesley Fenton yesterday told the Herald she was delighted at the commission's recommendations - and believes their implementation would save other parents the same anguish that came after her 15-year-old daughter's death in July 2009.

Hayley-Ann Fenton died in hospital hours after receiving threatening text messages from the wife of her ex-partner. One of her last texts to him reading: "I love you I'll see you in heaven."

Elina Tiumalu was later convicted on charges of intimidation - but Mrs Fenton said what she wanted stretched beyond Hayley-Ann's case.

"What has been recommended now is what we have been waiting for for so long and I'm just so rapt it's happened.

"We do need a law change, especially with technology today and the fact that it's getting worse and worse - the kids aren't just texting but they're on Facebook, Twitter, everything you can think of."

She believed teens who cyber-bullied others needed to face tougher penalties than school stand-downs.

"They are getting away with it and there should be consequences - because there are for their victims who have to live with them for the rest of their lives."

Secondary Schools Association president Patrick Walsh also backed the recommendation.

"We've been very concerned about it - Facebook seems to take a long time to remove offensive websites and material, and cyber bullying is probably now one of the major issues that secondary schools have to tackle."

- NZ Herald

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