Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Combatting Cyber-Bullying: A Toolkit for Schools


15 August 2012

Hon Sir Grant Hammond KNZM


Law Commission
Combatting Cyber-Bullying:

A Toolkit for Schools

All schools would be required to implement effective programmes to combat bullying, including cyber-bullying, if the Government accepts the Law Commission’s latest recommendations.

The recommendation is one of a package of reforms proposed by the Commission in a Ministerial briefing prepared for Justice Minister Judith Collins. In May, the Minister asked the Commission to fast-track its work in this area in response to growing concern from Police, Coroners and teachers about the impact of cyber-bullying.

Project leader and media law expert Professor John Burrows said the Commission’s focus has been on the legal framework which anchors educational policies dealing with issues of student safety and well-being.

He said schools are already required to provide a “safe physical and emotional environment for students” but there was no specific requirement to have anti-bullying policies in place.

After examining the very extensive body of research and reports on bullying in New Zealand, including a 2011 report by Ombudsman David McGee, the Commission had come to the view that it was necessary to strengthen the legal requirements on both public and private schools with respect to combatting both physical and emotional violence.

“We acknowledge the difficulties created for teachers, principals and Boards of Trustees by increasing expectation that schools can, and should, address the myriad social problems that students bring to the classroom each day.

“We also acknowledge the amount of innovative work already being done by schools and the Ministry of Education to improve school culture and the learning environment.

“However, the evidence suggests this work needs to be better supported by nationally consistent policies and procedures which provide students, teachers and parents with a clear understanding of what constitutes bullying behaviour, online and offline, and how a school will respond to such incidents, including the threshold for escalating incidents to outside agencies such as the Police and Child Youth and Family.”

Consistent data collection and national reporting around standardised measures are also necessary in order to gauge the effectiveness of anti-bullying programmes and policies.

Professor Burrows said anti-bullying policies alone would not be effective. Teachers needed to know they had the backing of the law and access to resources and assistance from other agencies when required.

“In their submission to us, the Post Primary Teachers Association made clear that students are not the only targets of cyber-bullying and harassment. Teachers and the schools themselves are increasingly targeted through fake social media sites and other online publishing platforms.”

Like other submitters, the PPTA expressed frustration at the lack of clear and authoritative channels for dealing with serious complaints which could not be resolved online.

Professor Burrows said the Commission’s proposals to boost NetSafe’s role and resourcing and also to set up a Communications Tribunal to provide speedy and efficient remedies, including takedown orders, should provide teachers with the sort of additional support and backing they need to tackle cyber-bullying and malicious attacks on students, staff and schools.

NetSafe already has a strong track record working in schools to promote the safe and responsible use of online technology and to combat cyber-bullying It had established relationships with a range of key stakeholders including the Ministry of Education, Police, the telecommunications sector, and global internet entities including Google and Facebook.

NetSafe is also working with schools to promote digital citizenship through tools such as classroom Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) contracts setting out appropriate behaviour “online and on mobile” both inside and outside school time.

The Commission suggests such contracts could be a useful tool for introducing young people and their parents to the legal basis of digital citizenship and a clear statement of what is and is not acceptable conduct on the internet.

Under the Law Commission’s proposals, NetSafe would receive increased funding and its role assisting in the mediation and resolution of complaints would be given statutory recognition.

The Commission is also proposing that school Principals, along with Police and Coroners, would have direct access to the Communications Tribunal so that they are able to escalate instances of cyber-bullying or other online behaviour which represents a threat to safety.

Finally, as is the case with respect to instances of physical bullying, where the offending is serious and the offender is aged 14 or more, schools should refer cases to the Police for prosecution under one of the new digital communication offences being recommended.


The Commission’s specific recommendations with respect to the education sector are:

1. National Administration Guideline 5 should be amended, to require each public school board of trustees to implement an effective anti-bullying programme (R31).

2. It should be a criterion for registration of a private school that the school provide a safe and supportive environment that includes policies and procedures that make provision for the welfare of students (R32).

3. The Ministry of Education should consider further work in the following areas (R33):

(a) the development of an agreed definition of bullying behaviour, including cyber-bullying, encouraging schools to use it in anti-bullying policies;

(b) the establishment of ongoing and routine data collection systems with standardised methods for defining and measuring covert and overt forms of bullying;

(c) the development of measurable objectives and performance indicators for activities intended to improve school safety;

(d) the development of guidelines for the reporting of serious incidents of bullying and cyber-bullying.

4. Consideration should be given to further developing the educative potential of Information and Technology (ICT) contracts to inform students about their legal rights and responsibilities with respect to communications, using for example, the set of principles developed in chapter 5 as an educative tool (R34).


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



1080 Threat: Police Arrest 60 Year Old Auckland Man

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year. More>>


Canterbury Transition Bill First Reading: Government Hiding From ECan Submissions

The Government has radically reduced the amount of time for public submissions on their controversial ECan bill, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods... “Their shortened timeline could mean that instead of the usual six weeks, Cantabrians get just one week to submit their views on the bill." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Our Apparent Inability To Stand Up To Australia

Alas, and only days before the first meeting between our Prime Minister John Key and the new Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull, this country is showing no sign of standing up for itself. Quite the reverse. We seem to be rolling over, and making gestures of appeasement. More>>


Health Not-So-Many Benefits: Auditor-General On Scrapped Cost-Saving Plan

The Auditor-General decided to look into the costs and benefits of HBL’s work in the health sector and, where possible, identify lessons... We found that several factors contributed to the difficulties that befell HBL and, in particular, the Finance, Procurement and Supply Chain (FPSC) programme. More>>


Wikileaks: TPP Intellectual Property Rights Chapter Released

“If TPP is ratified, people in the Pacific-Rim countries would have to live by the rules in this leaked text,” said Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program Director. “The new monopoly rights for big pharmaceutical firms would compromise access to medicines in TPP countries. The TPP would cost lives.” More>>


Redundancies: 120 Laws To Be Repealed

The Statutes Repeal Bill will remove 120 pieces of superfluous legislation, and parts of eight other acts. It is being consulted on before it is introduced to Parliament. “The proposed Bill would reduce the total number of public Acts in force by more than 10%,” Mr Joyce says. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On John Key’s Trip To Iraq

In the embedded press coverage on this trip, the absence so far of any evaluation of the wider context of what New Zealand thinks it is doing at Camp Taji has been striking. More>>


Labour: Parata Puts Brakes On Charter School Appraisal

“When the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so." More>>


Bad Day For Universities: Gun, Bomb Threats On Three Campuses

Dunedin Police are continuing their investigation into the threat made against the University of Otago. Staff are following a number of lines of inquiry, and police are working to verify the authenticity and source of the post. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news