Kyra is the Rotorua Daily Post's police, emergency and court reporter.

Cyberbullying affects more than just schools - it's a community issue

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Rotorua Lakes High School principal Bruce Walker. Photo / Stephen Parker
Rotorua Lakes High School principal Bruce Walker. Photo / Stephen Parker

A Rotorua school counsellor says cyberbullies usually pick on those who are different.

"Kids can be very quick to pick up on differences in others' appearance, behaviour, abilities, ethnicity, gender identity and so on, and can target these differences as an opportunity for harassment.

"The flip side of this coin is the harm caused to individuals who are harassed for standing out in some way.

"Even for those who are not bullied, fear of being judged can be silencing and lead to anxiety. The 24/7 nature of social media has heightened this worry for many young people and we have noted a sharp increase in recent months of students attending counselling for anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation."

She said her school had launched an email address for the reporting of any bullying or objectionable on-line messaging.

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"Since the implementation of this email we have noted a marked decrease in the incidence of cyberbullying amongst our students."

Rotorua Lakes High School principal Bruce Walker says cyberbullying has become a huge issue and not just for students.

"It's a community issue and it needs to be treated as a community issue. It's not okay.

Often it happens outside of school hours when kids are at home and we have to spend school hours dealing with it.

"I think it's a huge issue. We have had teachers getting cyberbullied on Facebook by students.

"I'm really not sure how to deal with it, maybe it's a police issue. We advise parents to go to the police now," he said.

"It can get almost to the point of suicide for some. People need to think before they press send."

Youth co-ordinator at Te Waiariki Purea Charitable Trust Jo O'Brien says cyberbullying had become a very common issue.

"It's huge. It's very common and how it affects our young people in that it is their reality, although it's a virtual world they see it as reality.

"They take it to heart and some of our young people take their own lives because of it."

She said eight out of 10 young people she had talked to were affected by bullying on social media.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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