Tackling internet safety for youth
Group hosts community events to help navigate an often bewildering world
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.
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.