Online bullying aka cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to hurt or embarrass somebody else. Cyberbullying can take many forms, like when someone puts something online that:
Digital content can be shared and seen by a lot of people almost immediately and it can be difficult to get the content deleted permanently. Access to technology means that cyberbullying can happen at any time, any place and by anyone. Like bullying, cyberbullying can make you feel sad, angry, anxious, uncomfortable, worried or scared.
If you feel that something is wrong and you’re not happy, you should speak with someone who can help you – like a teacher, counsellor, family member or other trusted friend.
If someone is blackmailing you by threatening to release a nude photo or video of you, they could be committing a criminal offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. You should contact the police.
Someone else should not share your intimate photos/videos without your consent. If they do, this is online sexual harassment and is a criminal offence under the Harmful Digital Communications Act. You should contact the police.
It is a crime to encourage someone to commit suicide, even if the person does not attempt to take their own life.
Schools in New Zealand should be a safe place for students. If you know about bullying at your school, you should tell a teacher or your dean about it. They should try to help stop the bullying.
Serious cyberbullying can be a crime. If you are found guilty of cyberbullying you could be fined $50,000 or jailed for up to two years. These are the maximum sentences.
The Police may prosecute a person if the person:
Serious cases of online bullying are illegal under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015. These could be things like leaked nudes, telling someone to kill themselves, and extremely offensive, abusive or harassing content.
NetSafe offers a free service in New Zealand to help with online bullying, harassment and abuse. If you or someone you know needs help, contact NetSafe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723).
You can contact the Police if the cyberbullying threatens harm, like hurting or fighting, or if you’re being blackmailed. This is against the law. Save the evidence (screenshot) and contact the Police.
A digital communication should not:
SticksnStones is a student led anti-cyberbullying programme. Check out the website for more information and tips about cyber bullying.
NetSafe provides information, advice and support for people with online safety issues. The website is helpful https://www.netsafe.org.nz or you can call them on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), or email email@example.com.
If you need some legal help, you can give us at YouthLaw a call.