School to run cyber safety unit
Marlborough Boys' College is introducing a cyber safety unit next year as part of the year 9 induction programme to show students the impact online and text bullying has on its victims.
Deputy principal Michael Heath says they need to get the message across that cyber bullying and other practices such as the sending of explicit images via text, can have long term consequences.
Social media sites that target young people by spreading rumours or making malicious comments are becoming an increasing problem around Marlborough and New Zealand. Yesterday the Express reported a site about Marlborough Girls College was shut down by facebook.
And earlier this year a further facebook site that used the college's name in the title and contained some "pretty nasty stuff" about students and staff members at the school, was stopped. The cyber safety unit will educate students on online privacy, cyber bullying and online etiquette.
Mr Heath said young people didn't realise something they posted online now could still be there in five or 10 years when they applied for a job. Year 9 and 10 students were educated on cyber behaviour in health classes, and any additional problems or issues that arose were addressed during school assembly, he said.
Cyber bullying is not the only problem that comes with advanced technology, however. A major issue the school faced this year was students sharing or posting explicit photos or videos of themselves.
Mr Heath said boys might send a photo to their girlfriend and then the relationship ended and the image or video of them remained out there.
"There are laws relating to explicit images of people under a certain age. They [the students] do it without realising the consequences."
The school had a strict policy on bullying and dealt with it well, he said. However, one of the issues the school faced was what to do with bullying that happened outside school hours. An issue could start or be triggered in school, but it often continued via text or through social media sites during the student's own time.
"Traditionally, we deal with things that happen during school hours," Mr Heath said.
"Where does our jurisdiction at school begin and end?"
To deal with bullying that occurred outside the school grounds, parents and caregivers needed to be informed and educated on what their child got up to online.
Restorative talks with students involved in bullying often revealed the perpetrator had no idea of the impact their actions had, Mr Heath said.
- The Marlborough Express