Cyber bullying a teen issue
Survey findings comprehensive
A survey of Central Otago intermediate and secondary school students shows 34 per cent have been bullied in the past year and 87 per cent feel cyber bullying is a problem for young people. The Ministry of Youth Developmentfunded survey was completed by 740 11- to 18-year-olds from Alexandra and its neighbouring townships, Cromwell and Wanaka. It was the first youth survey in four years and the most comprehensive to date. The Central Otago facilitator of the Sticks n Stones cyber bullying programme, Karla Sanders, said the aim was to learn more about the issues facing local young people. Of the 34 per cent who said they had been bullied, three-quarters had been verbally bullied, 39 per cent had experienced cyber bullying and a quarter had suffered physical bullying. Forty per cent of those who had experienced cyber bullying had been sent hurtful text messages, a third had been bullied via social networking sites such as Tumblr, Ask.fm, Facebook or Twitter and a third had received hurtful instant messages through sites such as Facebook. While more than half of the respondents who had been bullied online had talked to a friend or parent, the fact nearly a quarter had ‘‘kept it to myself’’ was a worry. ‘‘That’s when mental health issues and self-harming can start.’’ On the other hand, just 25 per cent admitted posting something online which they later regretted. Another quarter had bullied someone via text message, 22 per cent had used social networking sites to bully and 18 per cent had used instant messaging. Some respondents said parents did not appreciate the seriousness of the cyber bullying problem and were not doing enough to protect their children. Others said teachers needed to be more internet savvy in order to help students and pupils’ cellphones should be taken off them at school. Mrs Sanders said the survey results would be shared with schools to help them understand the problems better. It also asked young people about their experiences with alcohol, drugs and smoking but Mrs Sanders did not believe the answers painted an accurate picture because 81 per cent of the respondents were aged 11 to 14. Another survey asking 15- to 18-yearolds about these issues was required. More than half of the predominantly younger respondents did not think alcohol was a ‘‘big issue’’ in their community, although nearly half had had an alcoholic drink. Sixtythree per cent believed smoking was an issue and 55 per cent felt that way about drugs. Just over half of the 740 respondents were girls. About 40 per cent came from Alexandra and 21 per cent from Wanaka and more than threequarters were Pakeha. Students were also asked their thoughts on the recreational and training opportunities in their towns and this information would be shared with local government and polytechs and other course providers. Mrs Sanders said many complained they were bored and frustrated by a lack of say on issues which affected them. Alexandra Youth Trust team leader, Sharon Waples, said youth workers would use the findings to ensure their programmes were meeting the needs of young people.
Bullying investigated: Alexandra Youth Trust team leader Sharon Waples and the Central Otago facilitator of the Sticks n Stones cyber bullying programme, Karla Sanders, discuss the results of the most comprehensive youth survey ever carried out in the area.