Tack­ling in­ter­net safety for youth

Group hosts com­mu­nity events to help nav­i­gate an of­ten be­wil­der­ing world

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

A Cen­tral Otago stu­dent-led ini­tia­tive tar­get­ing cy­ber­bul­ly­ing and pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive online ex­pe­ri­ences should be adopted na­tion­wide, a Sticks ’ n Stones spokesper­son says. The group, Sticks ’ n Stones, is host­ing a se­ries of com­mu­nity events next week which will cover so­cial net­work­ing, se­cu­rity set­tings, YouTube, cy­ber­bul­ly­ing, be­ing pos­i­tive and nav­i­gat­ing life online. Spokesper­son Karla San­ders said the group was made up of 26 year 10 and 11 stu­dents from Dunstan High School, Cromwell Col­lege, Mount As­pir­ing Col­lege, Roxburgh Col­lege and Man­iototo Area School who were re­cruited in Fe­bru­ary and March this year. ‘‘It was formed as a project through Cen­tral Otago REAP af­ter re­ceiv­ing fund­ing from the Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment’s Te Pu­nanga Hau­maru fund. It was pro­moted at school as­sem­blies and stu­dents chose to be in­volved, com­mit­ting them­selves to the project and the op­por­tu­nity to af­fect change.’’ As a com­mu­nity, it was ‘‘cru­cial’’ in­ci­dents of bul­ly­ing was taken se­ri­ously, she said. ‘‘Sticks’n Stones is so im­por­tant be­cause we need to be think­ing and talk­ing about be­ing pos­i­tive online. As a com­mu­nity it is cru­cial that we take in­ci­dents of bul­ly­ing se­ri­ously and sup­port each other to ad­dress them in ways that cre­ate a cul­ture that will no longer tol­er­ate ha­rass- ment of any kind. ‘‘Online in­ter­ac­tions can have a real im­pact of the self es­teem and men­tal health of young peo­ple and mak­ing a fo­cus on stand­ing up to hate and bul­ly­ing is cru­cial to sup­port vul­ner­a­ble young peo­ple.’’ There were sev­eral pro­grammes and projects across New Zealand ad­dress­ing bul­ly­ing and strate­gies to min­imise its dam­age, she said. ‘‘But as a stu­dent led and man­aged ini­tia­tive, we be­lieve we are pro­vid­ing an ex­am­ple of good prac­tice that has al­ready gained at­ten­tion from other schools across the coun­try and we would love to see it adopted New Zealand wide.’’ The expo-style events will be in­ter­ac­tive and there would be 15-minute ‘‘mini-lessons’’ on a range of sub­jects, she said. There would also be a Q&A panel with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the health sec­tor, po­lice, young peo­ple and coun­sel­lors.

Photo: SUP­PLIED

Team­work: Sticks ’n Stones School rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Dunstan, Cromwell Col­lege, Man­iototo Area School, Roxburgh Area School and Mt As­pir­ing Col­lege are pro­mot­ing pos­i­tive online mes­sages to the com­mu­nity. What: On­life – Your chance to find out about liv­ing online!

When and where: De­cem­ber 2: Ran­furly, Ran­furly Town Hall, 7-9pm De­cem­ber 3: Cromwell, Cromwell Pres­by­te­rian Church, 7-9pm De­cem­ber 4: Alexan­dra, Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, Skird St, 7-9pm De­cem­ber 5: Wanaka, Wanaka Pri­mary School Hall, 6.30-8.30pm Cost: Gold coin dona­tion with pro­ceeds go­ing to the What’s Up helpline for young peo­ple.

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