12 Oct 2015
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Police join fight against cyberbullying

By Catherine Knowles

Cyberbullying is a threat to students in New Zealand, and the police are getting involved in raising awareness in both young people and their parents.

In light of recent cases, the police are encouraging parents to take more responsibility for their children’s use of social media and technology.

Hank Van Engelen, Whangarei Police campus cop senior constable, says he comes across many cases of young people being bullied by others through social media which they access on their electronic devices.

Van Engelen says cyberbullying can happen wherever and however young people communicate with their friends through websites, online chat and mobile phones.

“Parents and caregivers need to give their children guidance around the use of social media on their phones and other electronic devices.

“They need to have access to their children’s accounts, so they can see who they are talking to and what is being said,” he says.

Van Engelen says it is no different than knowing who their children’s friends are, where they are going and who they are going with.

“If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied get them to block the sender and seek advice on how to support your child. Don’t become part of the problem by jumping online to have a go at the person carrying out the bullying," he says.

According to Van Engelen, Netsafe’s website provides good advice on cyberbullying.

The police are also working with the schools to assist and advise young people about cyberbullying in general.

School community officers deliver sessions for school students around how to prevent cyberbullying, what to do if you’re cyberbullied, how to help others that are being cyberbullied, how to protect personal information online and where to go for support.

They also talk about the new law Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, specifically section 22, which is about causing harm by posting digital communication.

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