BNOF – Bullying and Cyberbullying

Bullying and Cyberbullying


Bullying is when an individual or a group of people, with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond.

Cyberbullying is when bullying happens in the online/texting environments. The key elements are the same - intent and repetition:

  • 1 mean text is hurtful – that is not bullying
  • Repetition means there is no escape – in US, 1 in 4 people experience cyberbullying


In New Zealand it is illegal to post online causing distress. New Zealand’s Harmful Digital Communications Act (2015) relates to any form of electronic communication (text writing, photo, intimate visual recording) that causes harm or serious emotional distress. Netsafe has been selected as New Zealand’s preferred agency for handling all harmful digital communications by receiving complaints and enquiries; assessing and advising; and investigating.

Civil enforcement of the Harmful Digital Communication Act started on 21st November 2016 relating to:

  • Post with intention to cause harm
  • Post causes harm to reasonable person
  • Post actually causes harm

Most online activity with youth is positive, however, there are some real concerns happening in this space:

  • Abuse of teachers
  • Abuse of peers
  • Sexting is now considered normal and mundane
  • Children are drawn into radicalisation
  • Revenge porn – posting intimate images without consent
  • Schools – staff training and community engagement needed
  • From Violence Free Communities 2017 Pink Shirt Day survey of over 900 students in four high schools:
    • 70% experienced bullying of which 92% happened at school and 45% happened online
    • 58% witnessed bullying of which 90% happened at school and 57% happened online