Incidences of bullying occurring outside schools, being linked to social media, and then coming back into schools are becoming increasingly common, the Dunedin Secondary Schools Partnership says.
DSSP manager Gordon Wilson told The Star, when contacted, that at a recent meeting of the partnership executive four principals reported such incidents.
“It is happening on a weekly basis,” Mr Wilson said.
Such issues were difficult for schools to handle as they could involve an outside statutory agency such as the police.
“It is understandable that parents would like schools to deal with these issues.”
But, depending on the circumstances, it could be difficult or even illegal for schools to intervene, he said.
The DSSP spent a considerable amount of time and resources within schools working around such issues, Mr Wilson said.
A Dunedin school principal said the issue had been discussed with principal colleagues from around the city.
Principals reported pupils as young as year 9 were gathering and drinking together, sometimes at their own homes, sometimes at flats in the student area and sometimes at houses that they “rent” for a party.
Alcohol was provided, in some cases by parents, and in other cases by older pupils or young adults.
When arguments broke out (often due to conflicts triggered by social media posts), the mix of immaturity and alcohol could lead to violence.
Fights and altercations were being filmed and distributed via social media.
Mr Wilson said if the incidents were between pupils at the same school, parents were demanding that schools dealt with the situation using their disciplinary procedures.
This was despite the fact the young people concerned should be in the care of their parents, not the school.
In a written statement to The Star, Dunedin police said they took any reports of bullying seriously.
“Police are always concerned around young people attending parties where there is alcohol and little adult supervision.
“Young people can be victimised at these events and parents need to take a more proactive role in supervising their children when they are at a young, vulnerable age,” the statement said.
If you are a young person and witness bullying, police urge you to show your support to the victim and tell someone who can help put a stop to it. Tell an adult you trust and seek help, and if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call the police.
Help at hand for victims of bullying
If you are experiencing bullying, or are concerned about someone who may be, the following agencies are available to help:
Bail on Bullying (BOB) is a support network and resource, driven by young people, which aims to eliminate bullying in Dunedin. Phone 0800 474-1121, or find them on Facebook.
Youthline Otago can be contacted by phoning 0800 376-633, free-texting 234 or online on Facebook.
Sticks’n’Stones is a pupil-led programme focused on taking positive action online to stop bullying online or in person. Email sticks’n’email@example.com or find them on Facebook.
Stopping Violence Dunedin (SVD) focuses on reducing family violence and other damaging conflict in our communities. Phone 474-1121, or go online to www.stoppingviolencedunedin.org.nz
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 111 for the police.