Cyber bul­ly­ing a teen is­sue

Sur­vey find­ings com­pre­hen­sive

Central Otago Mirror - - SOUTHERN LAKES NEWS -

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.

Photo: JESSICAMADDOCK

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.

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