Easy net access aids cyber bullies

Confiscating technology from cyber bullies will not combat the problem, a Timaru police education officer says.

Senior Constable Keri Brown said because we now live in a world heavily reliant on technology, most people could access the internet or a cell phone even if they had had their device removed.

The issue of cyber bullying was raised by The Timaru Herald last week, after two cases were reported to the police.

Another example of severe cyber bullying was highlighted in the Herald yesterday, after a young woman was sent sadistic emails over a period of two months. The woman was living in Christchurch at the time.

Mrs Brown said she could not comment on the case because she was not aware of the exact details as it was dealt with by Christchurch police.

Mrs Brown, who takes a preventative approach in her work, advises parents and children to use NetSafe as a guide on what to do if cyber bullying is becoming a problem for them. NetSafe is a non-profit organisation that promotes safe and responsible use of online technologies.

She said confiscating devices like phones and tablets from children could help, but did not always solve the problem because there were so many other ways and means of getting online. That could be something as simple as using a friend's phone or computer, she said.

"It's such a (large) part of their lives. They feel they need to be online and keeping up with it, but with it comes issues."

Mrs Brown said she did not know how many cases of cyber bullying had been reported to Timaru police this year, but did not believe the problem was getting out of control.

"I just think it's been reasonably steady as new technology is around."

She said people were becoming more "wise about it" and aware of what was right and wrong. They were also becoming more aware of the services available to them if they needed help, she said.

The Timaru Herald