Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Warriors star Shaun Johnson on cyberbullying

The Herald sat down with Warriors star Shaun Johnson to discuss cyberbullying as part of our campaign, Stop the Hate.

He has faced abuse online many times.

Read how he deals with the issue and his advice for people being cyberbullied in the Herald's Q&A below.

What are your experiences of online abuse and cyber bullying?

You could probably print a book out. You get the, 'Shaun should be dropped' all the time, and there's ones that always sort of float around, you know, 'You're weak', 'You're a pussy', 'You don't deserve your money' or 'You shouldn't be paid'. All that sort of stuff, so yeah, I see it a bit.


I'm human and like anyone else ... you read something not nice and it certainly has an effect on you. I've had to learn to deal with it, by putting it to the side, but it certainly reaches a threshold where I sort of think 'enough is enough'. It definitely has an impact.

Some of the stuff people say, when I read it I genuinely think, 'How can you talk to someone else like that?'. That's probably the simplest way to look at it, you know, I go, 'Everything aside, rugby league, me, whatever, how can you talk to someone else like this, how do you think it's okay?'.

I know personally, no matter who I supported, how much I disliked someone, there's no right I have to speak to someone else like that.

I think of late I've really realised that it's probably the minority, those people writing those negative things. Those numbers, whether there's 10 of them, 100 of them, they don't come close to the people who are still interested and do support you.

So for me, it's reminding myself that I do have a lot of support behind me still and people are still interested in what I'm up to and that's why I have social media, to stay in touch with the people that do want to know what I'm doing. It's just been hard lately with everything that's been going on.

Shaun Johnson in action for the Warriors. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Shaun Johnson in action for the Warriors. Photo / Jason Oxenham

What is your message to someone struggling with cyber bullying?

I won't say don't read it and all that, because it's so hard not to. If you're active on social media, like myself, you're bound to see it.

The way I look at it, the people who are saying those things to me are coming at me for a reason. At the end of the day, in my situation I get to live my dream job, and whether we're winning or whether we're losing - and that's when people usually say those bad things about me - I'm still playing the sport I love.

So anyone that's copping it, it's usually because those people are jealous, those people have got an issue with who you are and what you're doing. So just stay happy in your own bubble.

I'm still living my dream, I still get to wake up and play the sport I love, so for whatever area or situation that person [is] in that's getting bullied, just focus in on what you can control, and it's about you having fun and doing what you're doing, no matter what it is.

What is your message to the bullies?

I wouldn't give them the satisfaction. I've said it before, 'I don't know how you can speak to someone the way you do'. It's that simple. Would you want your kids to speak to you like that? Would you want your kid to speak to someone else like that?

Where to get help:

• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm)
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723),

- NZ Herald

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