The bullies who follow

As I write this column, I have joined the ranks of those who’ve had to isolate due to Covid-19. Anecdotally, there seems to be a bit of it going around again. The experience certainly reminded me of the importance of support networks for any whanau. I understand it can be hard to reach out. If you have to isolate due to sickness, do take up offers of assistance, grocery drop offs, medicine collection etc from friends and family however.

If you need further assistance in that regard, Cambridge Community House is a phone call away (tel 07 827 5402) and the Here2HelpU.nz website is also one stop access point for just those services.  No one should feel alone.

While I have been at home, there has not surprisingly been more device time than usual.  Social media invariably featured. It is a topic I have discussed a fair bit in conversations lately, especially with regards to the impact it has on our youth. When I was at school, bullying was left behind at the school gate and rarely happened over the landline. To some degree this at least gave the victim a break from the harassment.  Today’s youth have a high reliance on social media for their connection with peers, often also seeking through it, validation from others. This can make them vulnerable to online bullying – today’s bullying follows them around relentlessly on their device and may involve more than one perpetrator.

Sometimes the bullying is via direct messaging/group chats, and sometimes through targeted references in posts made on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat.  If this happens to your child, contacting their school is the first port of call, especially where it is happening in school time and on school property. If a situation escalates to serious, credible threats, assaults or other criminal offending, Police intervention may be appropriate however.

As always, www.netsafe.org.nz has a lot of helpful and relevant information. You can also report harmful digital communications via their website.

Another negative impact of social media is the incentive it gives some youth to offend by providing an audience for footage being streamed live or posted online showing their illegal or antisocial activities. Do you know what the tween or teenager in your family is looking at online and what they are posting themselves?

Finally today, I’d like to highlight the fantastic work that the Cambridge Committee of Social Services does each year with the Christmas Cheer initiative.

The initiative supports Cambridge families in need with new toys, Christmas goodies and supermarket vouchers to help make Christmas special for everyone. I encourage you all to make a small donation of a new, unwrapped toy if you can.

Main collection points are located at Cambridge I-Site, Paper Plus, Salvation Army and Cambridge Community House.

Please make your donation by 9 December 2022.  Until next time, stay safe.

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