More misuse of Harmful Digital Publications Act?

The Harmful Digital Publications Act was promoted as a way to address online bullying, especially of young people, but here is another claim that it has been used to try to suppress critical information. ‘Mason Bee’:

There is a flaw in New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act that is being exploited to take down content on the Internet. Because most allegations have to go through the Approved Agency (NetSafe) before going to the courts anyone can start a trivial, frivolous, or vexatious case with them without having to prove that they had suffered the level of serious emotional harm that is required by the law.

I don’t know whether the HDCA is effective at addressing online bullying and abuse, but it has been misused be vexatious online bullies since 2015. A year before the HDCA came into force some of the worst online abusers in New Zealand duped a judge in trying to prosecute me and shut this site down because I kept exposing there attacks here. See:

I was notified again recently be Netsafe of a complaint from the same person, Marc Spring, who didn’t like being exposed here or in the Whale Oil book, along with co-online bully Cameron Slater.  Once again Spring appears to have not followed procedures defined in the act properly.

Mason Bee:

To make matters worse, NetSafe doesn’t appear to be keeping any records of the numbers of these cases. When asked how many public figures had sought to use the process they refused the OAI request on the grounds that they would have to search over 7000 records. With almost 3000 of those records coming from 2018 this is a hidden problem that is only going to get worse.

Netsafe have a job to do, and have to try to deal with both legitimate and frivolous or vexatious complaints.  I found them ok to deal with, but they didn’t provide me with any details about the complaint. They can only liaise and moderate, and if that doesn’t resolve issues it can become a police or court matter if there is merit in the complaint (although as I have found out, cases without merit resulted in lengthy and costly court proceedings).

Mason Bee:

How do I know this? Because I was targetted by a minor politician who decided to use the NetSafe process and demand that I change a post and cease writing about her in the future.

That post is titled Suzie Dawson and the Whistle-blower

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

This is the story of how I have ended up in the unenviable position of whistle-blowing on Suzie Dawson and Internet Party New Zealand.

It all came to a head for in March of 2019 when I wrote a post called Who is Suzie Dawson: Exile or Fraud? In it I questioned her claims, her history, warned people about her conduct, asked more questions and published a, then unanswered, complaint to the Secretary of the Internet Party saying I believed she had;

When the Internet Party Secretary replied, almost a month after the initial complaint, he refused to escalate the complaint and dismissed it as personal attack, not in the interests of the Party and because I had already published it online. Nothing was heard from Suzie during this time and she continued to ask for donations using the name and imagery of the Internet Party.

Then, in May, I received an email.

The same standard email I received from Netsafe saying they wanted to chat about a complaint that had been made.

At first I was absolutely sure it could not be Suzie Dawson. There was no way that a public figure who purports to fight for whistleblowers and journalist’s could be stupid enough to try and invoke a law made to protect teenagers from online bullying in order to silence criticism against her.

It turned out I was wrong. Suzie Dawson, in an act of lawfare, used New Zealands Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) to try and get me to remove statements from my website and to stop me writing about her in the future. She used a cyberbullying law to try and remove my right to Freedom of Expression.

I doubt there is a more perfect example of how she really feels about whistle-blowers or journalists.

If I had not been in a position where I had access to legal advice it is likely I would have been forced to alter or withdraw my posts, possibly even take down my website, in fear of litigation.

I’m not going to make any judgment on this specific issue, I’m merely giving it more of an airing because both online abuse and misuse of the HDCA and the courts as a weapon by online bullies, or of attempts to suppress information by people involved in politics is of  public interest.

If Suzie Dawson wants to put her side of the story forward in response here in a reasonable manner I offer her a right of reply.

I presume that legitimate complaints of online bullying are being dealt with by Netsafe, and some of them surface as prosecutions in the courts.

But I think that more information about misuse and abuse of the HDCA is needed. This is an important public online issue.

I think that it is important that Netsafe deal with valid complaints of online bullying, but also that people are aware their rights when subject to frivolous or vexatious complaints. The more extreme examples will be obvious, but there is likely to be a more murky middle.

Netsafe – Cyberbullying: Estimating Societal Costs

Netsafe has releases a report the commissioned on cyberbullying. Curiously the report was done by an economist, Shamubeel Eaqub, I presume to focus on trying to establishing the costs.

CYBERBULLYING: ESTIMATING SOCIETAL COSTS

New Zealand’s first-ever report into the economic effect of online harm estimates the cost to individuals, communities and interventions to be $444m every year.

The new report commissioned by Netsafe and undertaken by leading economist Shamubeel Eaqub provides an important new assessment of the damage from online bullying and harassment. To date, cyberbullying has been primarily understood in terms of social cost and personal harm.

The report gives NZ a starting point to begin to understand the full impact of this behaviour here in New Zealand, and where to best focus interventions and responses. The survey commissioned for the report reveals that 1 in 10 NZ adults have personally experienced online harm, and that 64% of people are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and its effects on society at large. It highlights that cyberbullying has a much wider affect than the individual person being targeted and that more could be done to address the risks.

Key points from the report:

The online world exposes some people to harm from cyberbullying. The cost to individuals, communities
and interventions are substantial. We estimate the societal cost of cyberbullying is $444m a year.

We used local surveys, international studies, and approaches from other fields to develop a framework and
identify the costs. We have not counted the potential long-term costs from health or productivity effects,
which we hope to pick up in a future iteration of this work.

Additional interventions against cyberbullying could focus on:

  • Destigmatising seeking help. 31% of those experiencing or witnessing cyberbullying did not seek
    help.
  • Investing in curriculum for schools. Young people are disproportionately affected by cyberbullying.
  • Raising awareness of cyberbullying and where to seek help. Victims of cyberbullying are most
    likely to turn to their family and friends for help. Awareness of where to go for help would be
    valuable.
  • International coordination of legislation and enforcement of cyberbullying. Currently these are
    uncoordinated.

It seems odd trying to equate the effects of cyber bullying in dollar terms.

Context

Successive new technologies have allowed communication to happen faster and they have become
widespread more quickly. For example, the telephone took nearly 50 years to become mainstream in the US
(over half of households). The home computer took nearly 20 years, the internet 13 years and smartphone 7
years. In New Zealand, nearly 90% of the population have access to the internet.

The widespread adoption of the internet and its applications allow much wider reach and greater intensity
of interactions, both positive and negative.

Like the real world, the online world also has a small population of bullies. The anonymity available online
can mean cyberbullying is more intense than in person. Some surveys show greater negative impact on
happiness and wellbeing from cyberbullying than social bullying.

In a survey we commissioned, conducted by UMR, only 10% of respondents had personally experienced
online harm, although the impact was higher among women, young people and ethnic minorities (we did
not collect more detailed information on disability, gender, etc.).

While most of the population appear unaffected by cyberbullying, some have intensely negative
experiences.

On victim demographics:

To get a better understanding New Zealander’s experiences and attitudes, we asked UMR to survey New
Zealanders on cyber-bullying using a representative panel of 1,000 respondents. They survey found that
New Zealanders are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and its effects on society at large (64%), and
in diminishing order on a family member, a friend, and the respondent her- or him-self (see Figure 3).

Within this, we saw much higher levels of concern among women, younger people, people with children
and people from minority ethnic groups. Our survey was not large enough to collect information on
disability, LGBTI and other related variables.

Figure 4 shows that within the last year, more people report knowing a friend that experienced some online harm than report experiencing online harm themselves.

Unsurprisingly, women, younger people and people from ethnic minorities reported higher levels of harm
experienced.

Surprisingly the report gives no details from the survey on “women, younger people and people from ethnic minorities”.

I’ve been cyber bullied quite severely, or at least some numpties tried to bully me (bullies need victims and I fought back rather than be victimised), and they tried seriously to bull this blog to to the extent of abusing court processes to try and shut this site down.

Ironically one of their tools of bullying, Lauda Finem, was shut down by a court order. That gang of numpties attacked, abused, defamed and bullied hundreds of people – and I suspect the demographics of that group would surprise the writer of the above report as I doubt it fits into his assumptions.

The LF bullying was serious enough to end up in a conviction for one of the primary bullies – see “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…” and Nottingham has not been acting alone.

As part of his home detention sentence Nottingham is forbidden to access the internet – something he unsuccessfully tried to impose on me. However he continues to abuse court processes – I was in the Court of Appeal yesterday with him still trying to re-litigate a prosecution he withdrew over two years ago.

There are others still being dragged through courts by Nottingham – and they don’t fit the survey claims about demographics.

It would be very difficult to comprehensively survey the extent and impact and demographics of cyberbullying, and I wonder how successful the Netsafe survey has been. The report has a focus on victim demographics that they don’t support with any data.

Did they try to quantify the costs of cyber bullying on the court system? There is no indication that they did – ‘court’ is not mentioned in their estimated cost nor the report at all.

There is a claim of a form of alleged cyber bullying before the court right now – see No news on Blomfield v Slater.

I know of people dragged through court after court that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending themselves from legal associated with online attacks.

And the cost to the judicial system must be substantial – I had my 14th hearing yesterday in a vexatious series of actions that can now have no substantial outcome – I and another party are legally not guilty and that can’t be changed, we have been awarded costs that are being appealed but as Nottingham is bankrupt he is unlikely to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs owed to me and others.

Did Netsafe consider any of this in their survey?

A lot of people are bullied online, I’m not trying to diminish the size of the problem, but I don’t know how well the survey gets a true picture of the problem.

A possible problem with getting an economist to survey online bullying is they may not have a full understanding of the scope and variety of bullying out there, nor the full costs.

Harmful communications and Your NZ

From today people who believe they have experienced online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying van submit complaints to the appointed agency, Netsafe, to try to stop the attacks.

Your NZ may have to deal with this if complaints are received under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. I will do what I can to ensure comments posted here don’t breach the Act and moderation may be necessary to do this.

Now the Act has taken effect it is important to note:

What are harmful digital communications?

Harmful digital communications take a variety of forms such as private messages or content that others can see. It includes when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages;
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours about you; and
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos of you.

What are the 10 communication principles?

The 10 principles work as a guide for how people should communicate online. Netsafe and the District Court will look at these when deciding if a digital communication breaches the Act.

The 10 principles say that a digital communication should not:

  1. disclose sensitive personal facts about a person;
  2. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  3. be grossly offensive;
  4. be indecent or obscene;
  5. be used to harass a person;
  6. make a false allegation;
  7. breach confidences;
  8. incite or encourage anyone to send a deliberately harmful message;
  9. incite or encourage a person to commit suicide; and
  10. denigrate a person’s colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

I will moderate comments here that I believe risk breaching those principles. I don’t want that sort of behaviour here anyway, but if I don’t then it puts this site at risk of breaching the Act.

If you believe that anyone has posted comments here that breach any of these principles then contact me. You can do this either through comments or directly:

  • Email: YourNZContact@gmail.com
  • Phone: 027 327 3468

I will deal with it as soon as I can. I’m not always available so it may take a few hours but it will be as soon as possible.

If I decide a comment here breaches the Act I will edit or delete the comment. If I can’t deal with it properly immediately the comment may be deleted in the first instance and then later edited and reinstated.

The aim of Your NZ has always been to allow robust discussion but not to be nasty or abusive. The Act does not change this approach, but it provides different means of dealing with abuse.

Some abuse is obvious, but sometimes it can get tricky. One person’s ‘joke’ can be perceived by others as abusive or offensive.

We don’t have to be prudes but we should be decent humans in the way we interact here. Most of it should be common sense.

It shouldn’t change things much here as I done my best to maintain reasonable standards already, sometimes in very trying circumstances.

If this site was to be subject again to the sort of attacks experienced last year by a couple of malicious visitors using multiple identities then I won’t rule out making complaints to Netsafe myself.

For more details see Harmful Digital Communications or Netsafe’s website.


Your NZ has already experienced an attempt to gag the site and threats were made to imprison me prematurely under the ACT. A vexatious court order didn’t comply with the procedures specified in the Act, was nearly a year before this part of the Act came into effect (today), and relied on evidence planted in anonymous comments here. When this was pointed out to the Court it was immediately thrown out.The vexatious incompetents who attempted this are some of the worst online abusers I have seen, frequently breaching the principles of the Act.

Harmful Digital Communications

The Harmful Digital Communications Act has taken a long time to come into force, but from today anyone who is experiencing online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying can report to the appointed agency, Netsafe, who will “receive, assess and investigate complaints”. What they will do to help targets of abuse and how effective this will be is yet to be seen.

From Netsafe’s website:


Anyone who is experiencing online abuse, harassment and cyberbullying can get help from Netsafe thanks to the Harmful Digital Communications Act (the Act). Netsafe will receive, assess and investigate complaints related to harmful digital communications from 21 November, 2016.

UNDERSTANDING HARMFUL DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS

The Act tackles some of the ways people use technology to hurt others. It aims to prevent and reduce the impact of cyber-bullying, harassment, revenge porn and other forms of abuse and intimidation.

The Act provides quick and affordable ways to get help for people receiving serious or repeated harmful digital communications. A digital communication is harmful if it makes someone seriously emotionally distressed, and if it is a serious breach of one or more of the 10 communication principles in the Act.

What are harmful digital communications?

Harmful digital communications take a variety of forms such as private messages or content that others can see. It includes when someone uses the internet, email, apps, social media or mobile phones to:

  • send or publish threatening or offensive material and messages;
  • spread damaging or degrading rumours about you; and
  • publish online invasive or distressing photographs or videos of you.

What are the 10 communication principles?

The 10 principles work as a guide for how people should communicate online. Netsafe and the District Court will look at these when deciding if a digital communication breaches the Act.

The 10 principles say that a digital communication should not:

  1. disclose sensitive personal facts about a person;
  2. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  3. be grossly offensive;
  4. be indecent or obscene;
  5. be used to harass a person;
  6. make a false allegation;
  7. breach confidences;
  8. incite or encourage anyone to send a deliberately harmful message;
  9. incite or encourage a person to commit suicide; and
  10. denigrate a person’s colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

How to get help?

If you are concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you or someone you know needs help with a harmful digital communication, contact Netsafe toll free on 0508 NETSAFE or complete a complaint form at netsafe.org.nz/report.

Netsafe can look into your complaint and tell you if there’s anything else you can do to stop the abuse and stay safe. We may also work with you and the person harassing you to get them to stop.

If Netsafe can’t resolve things, you can apply to the District Court for help – but you have to have tried to resolve things with Netsafe first.

How can the District Court help?

The court deals with cases of serious or repeated harmful digital communications that Netsafe hasn’t been able to resolve.

The court will look into whether the person harassing you has seriously breached, will seriously breach or has repeatedly breached one or more of the 10 communication principles. It will also consider how people responded to the advice Netsafe provided.

The court has the power to order people to stop their harmful digital communications and take action including:

  • Ordering material to be taken down;
  • Ordering someone to publish a correction, an apology or give you a right of reply;
  • Ordering online content hosts (like social media/telecommunication companies or blog owners) to release the identity of the person behind an anonymous communication; and
  • Order name suppression to protect your identity or the identity of anyone else involved in the dispute.

Anyone who ignores the District Court’s orders can be prosecuted and penalised. The penalty is up to six months in prison or a fine up to $5,000. Companies can be fined up to $20,000.

What if the situation is really serious?

The Act also includes a criminal offence to penalise the most serious perpetrators. It is illegal to send messages and post material online that deliberately cause somebody serious emotional distress.

Police will handle these most serious cases. They may prosecute a person or company if:

  • they intended the communication to cause harm;
  • it’s reasonable to expect that a person in your position would be harmed by it; and
  • you were harmed.

The court will consider a variety of factors including how widely the material spread and whether what was said was true or not. The penalties for this offence are a fine of up to $50,000 or up to two years’ jail for an individual, and up to $200,000 for a body corporate.


How this affects  Your NZ and you if you comment here: Harmful communications and Your NZ

 

Harmful Digital Communications – Approved Agency

Pre-empting a question in parliament today…

BRETT HUDSON to the Minister of Justice: What recent announcements has she made relating to the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015?

…it is easy to find a recent announcement, on the Beehive Releases page.

This should be of interest to anyone concerned about bullying on the Internet.

It’s of particular interest to me because some notorious bullies on the Internet in New Zealand have tried to use this Act against me via a court order, ironically, incorrectly and a year prematurely. When the judge was informed he had been duped by morons he discharged the order – if lawyers had made such fundamental errors in applying for a court order they would have faced serious repercussions.

One of the main concerns about the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015 was it’s potentially for being misused and abused, and that happened before the relevant parts had even come into effect.

NetSafe appointed to cyberbullying role

Justice Minister Amy Adams has today announced that internet safety organisation NetSafe has been appointed as the “Approved Agency” under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015.

“NetSafe will play a key role in reducing the devastating impact of harmful digital communications, by providing a timely and effective service for victims to get help from an independent body,” says Ms Adams.

The Approved Agency’s role includes advising on steps people can take to resolve a problem, investigating and attempting to resolve complaints where harm has been caused, and providing education and advice about online safety and conduct.

Budget 2016 included $16.4 million of new funding to support the Harmful Digital Communications Act including operation of the Approved Agency.

“NetSafe is experienced in addressing many of the issues associated with harmful digital communications. It brings a strong body of knowledge and experience in this area.

“They already work with a range of enforcement agencies to help victims. NetSafe has established relationships with companies and schools both in New Zealand and overseas, who they work with to remove or stop the spread of harmful content,” says Ms Adams.

It’s expected NetSafe will start as the Approved Agency in November 2016.

“Once the Approved Agency is up and running, people can apply to the District Court for mandatory orders in relation to any complaints they have been unable to resolve through the Approved Agency,” says Ms Adams.

“The court will be able to make a range of orders, including requiring material to be taken down. Failing to obey the court orders will be punishable as a criminal offence with a penalty of up to six months in prison or a $5,000 fine for individuals, and fines of up to $20,000 for companies.”

For more information about the Approved Agency’s role, the new court orders and other measures in the Harmful Digital Communications Act, visit http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/criminal-justice/harmful-digital-communications

 

What happens when the cyber bullies attack

I’ve seen a lot of knarly stuff on social media, on political blogs and elsewhere.

Most of the abuse, lies, misrepresentation, attempts to discredit and personal attacks in politics are able to be managed reasonably easily, most of the abusers think they are doing their duty trying to score political points but don’t usually take things too far – most blog moderators will stop excessive harassment (but some can be on-sided) and there are usually enough responsible people also involved to step in if it goes too far.

The worst abuse and attacks that I’ve seen have involved competing interests in groups working on sensitive social issues, and have involved nasty sustained harassment.

Young people interconnected via mobile phones and  the Internet can be particularly vulnerable to bullying and worse. It can get to the extent of being life threatening.

On Friday the Waikato Times published an account of what a teenager went through as a victim. I’m repeating it all here, I hope Fairfax don’t mind, but I think this message needs to be circulated as much as possible.

You can read it all on the Stuff site here. Or:

‘You are hated by everyone’: When Hamilton’s cyber bullies attack

OPINION: Teenager Grace King asked her friend to describe what she went through as a victim of cyber bullying. This is a true account of what she said.

Imagine this: You’re 17 years old, and you’ve been with friends all day. You come home, put your phone on charge and log in to your computer. You check your Facebook, your Ask.fm, Tumblr, emails. They’re all full of messages and posts “F**k you’re an attention seeking whore”, “You’re such a slut”. They’re anonymous of course, so you have no idea where this is coming from. It continues on though, as the night goes on “You’re honestly biggest attention seeker ever!!! Slut.”

It had started when your angry ex-boyfriend hacked your Facebook and written as though you’ve committed suicide, only six days after one of your closest friends did the same thing. “2 August 1995 – 27 August 2012. Rest in peace beautiful, depression is a monster. Please have respect for the family. Her mother, father and sisters do not want to be contacted, leave us alone please.” Once you’ve established that you are in fact alive, reading through all the supportive messages posted by your friends while they thought they had lost you, you see this: “For f**k sakes stop looking for attention seriously. You should know that people only do that for attention.”

This is just the beginning. Although you are alive, there are people that see your actions as attention-seeking, and voice these opinions anonymously all over the internet.

Eventually it dies down a little, and you get on with your life. You have some friend troubles as you realise who your real ones are, while others are still not getting past it, posting more messages and photos around the internet about how you’re an attention seeker with fake mental illness to get sympathy. You’re in fact dealing with clinical depression, which has compounded due to all of this. Even a supposed ‘friend’ starts to send messages to you “All of your so called “close friends” wish you actually killed yourself last year. Shit, it must suck to be you. You’re so hated, by everyone. We just fake being your friend because of how sorry we feel for you… And to laugh at you, make fun of you and take the piss out of you when you’re not around”, along with this one as well “I’m one of your closest friends but I hate you. Sorry your (sic) a two faced bitch so you can go kill yourself now”.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Early in the year, you fall pregnant, and before you make any decisions you tell your closest friends. Of course, there are a few people that start to find out, and then everyone knows. You feel honestly that you can’t bring another person into the world in your mental state. You can barely cope with yourself, let alone another person. You make the hard decision to have an abortion, only telling a few people, just so that you aren’t alone.

The wrong person finds out though, and of course a week later the whole teen population of Hamilton knows. You start to see messages like this: “Baby killer”, “You’re the load your mother should have swallowed… And so was that thing inside of you”, which is one of the deepest cuts, along with this “No one is uglier then you you’re such an attention seeker. Your parents must be so proud of the attention seeker slut they have to call their daughter. You should probably go and get some serious help for you many problems. And get a f—ing diary ’cause no one cares! You’re yuck”.

This pushes you deeper and deeper into your depression, to the point where you do attempt suicide, feeling helpless to the constant onslaught of hate both anonymously and in real life. You don’t succeed, but people use this to make you feel even worse: “You should have killed yourself tonight like you planned you pathetic piece of shit. So many people would be happier if the crisis team never got involved. Get it over and done with and save all of us from your disgusting presence.”

You have some close friends around you who have been supporting you through this, and things have started to die down. It’s going to take a while, but you’re closing down the accounts people use to be hateful, and eventually you’ll feel safe enough to venture back online, even just to keep in contact with your family and real friends. For now though, you’re alive, and after all of this, that is an accomplishment.

This story isn’t just one made up to make a point. This is a real Hamilton girl, 17 years old, who was cyberbullied anonymously by her peers, who twisted truth and spread misinformation and hate.

All of those posts quoted are actual messages she received online, and all are from anonymous users. These messages and others like it drove her to attempt suicide, contributed heavily to her social anxiety disorder and destroyed her self esteem. She is a real girl, but in truth she could be anyone’s daughter, sister, cousin or niece. In this computer centric world, Cyber bullying takes centre stage.

There are other effects besides anxiety and suicide. Cyber bullying has been linked to depression, low self-esteem and self harm, all of which can manifest without the notice of friends or family.

On a global scale, Cyber bullying has had a major impact. In the past two years, two Canadian teen girls, Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott both committed suicide after suffering severe cyberbullying for an extended time, proving that this is not only a problem in Hamilton, or even New Zealand, but internationally too.

It takes place predominantly online, but also through text messages and chat apps for smartphones. It is mostly through messages on social media sites Ask.fm, Facebook and sometimes Tumblr. These messages can be not only intimidating or threatening, but also hate filled names and constant attacks of character fuelled by supposed events or activities.

It’s more often than not based on hurtful rumours and whispers, than on truth. With nothing ever truly gone from the internet, these rumours can stick about for months, even years, prolonging the bullying long after the issue began. Cyber bulling is now one of the most common types of bullying in this age of constant contact through smartphones, tablets and laptops.  

Ask.fm is one of the worst websites that facilitates these hate filled messages allowing users (and non users) of the site to post anonymous questions to a persons profile, which they can choose to answer or ignore. Even if they are ignored, the messages are still there, and similar ones will continue to appear from others. Facebook is sometimes used, but this shows the users name, so they can’t hide behind the computer screen.

This is a big problem, particularly in Hamilton where there is a relatively small group of teens. This misinformation travels fast, exponentially growing to the point of no return.

Cyber bullying isn’t just a myth, but a true problem that needs a solution, fast. Every day teens all over the city see messages just like those and worse.

This nearly destroyed one girl’s life, and could do the same to you; your daughter or son, niece or nephew, sister, cousin, brother. Someone you care about could be silently suffering from this. Take notice of Cyberbullying, its effects and how to prevent it from happening. You might just save a life.

Tips to prevent and deal with cyberbullying:

– Don’t allow anonymous messages on Ask.fm or Tumblr if you use them.

– If you are getting death threats, take screen-shots of the messages, and take them to the Police. They take these threats seriously.

– Watch for sudden bouts of secretiveness and a change in mood around computers

– Talk to a trusted adult. It doesn’t have to be a parent, any close adult like a teacher or aunt/uncle, just someone that can help you to deal with the issue

– Block the person on social media. You can block people on Facebook from seeing or finding your profile, as well as on Tumblr, Ask.fm and most other social media sites

– Don’t respond to them. Take a screenshot as evidence of the bullying, then ignore or delete the message. By not responding, you are not giving them the chance to do more harm or use your response to make other comments.

– © Fairfax NZ News

Cyberbullying information for New Zealand provided by NetSafe

NetSafe provide information and advice to help New Zealanders stay safe online.

This cyberbullying website contains dedicated guidance for young people, parents and caregivers and teachers and principals who want help to understand and deal with bullying that takes place in cyberspace.

Read through the fact boxes, watch the NZ made cyberbullying film ‘At a Distance’ and visit Childnet International, creators of the UK short film Let’s Fight it Together’.

This cyberbullying information is available to download as accessible Word and PDF files and schools can also register for a free DVD that comes complete with learning resources for teachers.