High school student strikes back at cyber bullies

By Ben Aulakh of the Westport News

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A Buller High School student has hit back at bullies she says suggested she kill herself.

Year 10 student Bek Collins yesterday told a school assembly of students from Years 9 and 10 someone had sent her a message through the Ask FM website. It told her to commit suicide, and that no one would care if she did so.

The website allows users to create a profile of themselves. People visiting the profile can answer questions the user has posted about themself.

Ms Collins' presentation to the assembly included a response to those who'd sent the message.

"I would like to take a minute here to tell that person, whoever you are, that I'm still here and that I'm not going anywhere anytime soon."

She said that in nine-and-a-half years of schooling she had been to seven different schools. At every school, and for as long as she could remember, she had been bullied.

She knew the people who had sent her the unpleasant internet message were in yesterday's assembly, because of the clues that were left.

Ms Collins said the bullying had ranged from name calling to physical bullying, including a leg injury at school in Cambridge in Waikato.

Life had been great during her time at Buller High, until the time she had received the suicide message.

Bullying was not ok, Ms Collins said. The saddest thing about it was that everybody could be exposed to it.

Bullying someone was also a criminal offence, as well as an infringement of their human rights, their safety and dignity.

It was a cowardly act to make someone think that they should take their own life, she said.

She also paid tribute to the support she'd had from her family.

"I'm just glad that I have grandparents and a mother who are going to follow this through to the end. We will find out who is responsible."

Westport police Community Constable Paul Sampson was also at the assembly. He told the students that cyber bullying was a "gutless act". People couldn't hide on the internet, as nothing was secret once posted on the web.

Mr Sampson said the issue was being taken very seriously by the Government. The Ministry of Justice had pushed through legislation which could mean three years imprisonment for anyone found guilty of inciting someone to commit suicide.

As well as causing distress, bullies in a small town like Westport could end up labelled, which could harm their employment chances in later life, Mr Sampson said.

The students were also shown a short film on the impacts of bullying yesterday.

Buller High principal Andrew Basher told The News the suicide message was sent to Ms Collins, out of school. She had contacted police, rather than school staff.

He said that when he had asked Ms Collins why she hadn't reported the incident to school staff, she said that she wasn't sure.

If she had reported the incident, staff would have done all they could to investigate it, Mr Basher said.

- NZ Herald

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