A Facebook page set up to bully an Otumoetai College student was taken down on Saturday night after causing an internet furore.

The page, called "Putting your stick away after a hard day of being a social outcast", appeared to have been set up by a fellow student and included a photograph of the boy.

Initially, the Bay of Plenty Times reported the page attracted the support of other students who joined in making fun of the page's target, and identified him by his first name.

Comments included: "HAHAHA. Who did this? ******* crack up ... sad ... but crack up!", "hahahah poor stickboy ...", "Pure genius!", "Golden" and "haha ledgend".

The Bay of Plenty Times chose not to name the students involved.

But the tone of the page changed abruptly after supporters and anti-bullying campaigners took to Facebook to criticise it.

A friend of the boy's mother used the Trade Me message boards to ask people to contact Facebook to have the page removed.

Posting as "widgie69", the user said: "Posting on behalf cos bullying sucks - can everyone please search for this page "Putting your stick away after a hard day of being a social outcast" and report it. It is designed to bully my friends son and she (as well as I) wants it pulled."

The message, posted in the Parenting part of Trade Me message boards, quickly attracted hundreds of responses from angry users, one who said the page was "bullying taken to a whole new level".

Within three hours, the Facebook page had been removed, but not before Trade Me users bombarded the page with criticism of the bullies and slammed it as disgusting and repulsive.

One user wrote: "This is repulsive and the lot of you should be ******* ashamed of yourselves! Just because someone is different, or you think they're slightly weird, doesn't mean they should be bullied or harassed like this in a public forum - or a private one!

"Yu don't have to like the kid, or be friends with him, but if you were decent human beings you would at least accept his differences and leave him alone."

Another user wrote: "... noone deserves the **** you're all giving this guy", while another slammed the bullies as "******** disgusting - you should be ashamed of yourselves".

Some Trade Me users criticised the language and tone of the comments used to reprimand the bullies.

The mother of the bullied boy took to Trade Me to thank supporters.

She said her son "never saw the page thankfully, but someone at school told him it was there".

"It is so great to see that this kind of behaviour won't be tolerated," she wrote. The incident also caught the attention of an organisation called B.U.S.T.E.D - Bullies Under Surveillance Teachers Educating Development. Group member Vanessa Caseley, who lives in Tauranga, said cyber bullying attacked children's self esteem, confidence and academic performance.

"We have got a very high suicide rate in New Zealand. There have been cases when kids have felt so bad about this bullying - everybody knows and everybody's talking about them - they feel there is no other option and they check out," Mrs Caseley told the Bay of Plenty Times.

Otumoetai College principal Dave Randell was unaware of the incident when first contacted by the Bay of Plenty Times, but said he would investigate it further.

He had not yet identified the boy targeted by the site, and had not yet received a complaint from the boy or his parents this morning.

Mr Randell said cyberbullying and Facebook comments could be "disgusting at times and inappropriate".

For that reason, social networking sites were blocked at school.

Incidents such as this one occurred out of school time yet spilled over into school life, he said.

"This happens after school and on the weekend but they bring it to school.

"We are trying to make as safe a school as we possibly can."

Students videoing and photographing others at school could sometimes be an issue but was difficult to stop, he said.

Secondary Principals' Association president Patrick Walsh said last month many schools now had network managers and teachers charged with trawling their students' social networking sites.

Behaviour such as bullying or wagging school could be picked up by monitoring sites such as Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, he said.

"From our point of view, schools have a legitimate interest in monitoring that stuff.

"We tell students that if it's up in cyberspace it's public and there for everyone to see.

"You should be happy to say it to somebody's face and if you're not, you should think twice about putting it on Facebook."

According to Netsafe, about one in five New Zealand high school students say they have been cyberbullied - and many say it makes them feel scared, depressed, angry or ashamed.