'Stop it' plea from cyberbullied teen

A 17-year old Central Otago girl, who asked not to be identified, has deleted two of her social networking accounts after cyberbullying. Friends, family and professional counselling helped her to cope.

She keeps her Facebook account active to keep in touch with her family. Her message to bullies of any kind: ''Stop it. It does harm, not just to the person that is a victim but to everyone.''

The cyber-bullying began after friend ''Brian'' experienced bullying of his own. This is her story.

Brian (his name has been changed to protect identities) and I grew up together. He was always my best friend, but I moved town and eventually we lost contact.

He got cyberbullied to the point where he felt like he had nowhere to go and, in 2010, he took his own life.

I was lost and broken. I didn't know what to do and for that first year, blamed myself.

I was depressed and started to self-harm.

 At this point, I had Tumblr and ask.fm accounts. I would get abused every day.

I was told I was worthless.

I was told I should blame myself for Brian's death.

I was told many times to end my life.

These comments were all ''anon''. I began to get more into self-harm and attempted suicide more than once.

I believed all this stuff these random people were telling me. Cyberbullying took away a boy who was my world and nearly took me away from my family.

Coping strategies

• Tell people you trust - friends, family or a teacher.
• Do not reply to people bullying you, especially to text messages from numbers you do not recognise.
• Save evidence of all bullying messages and images.
• If the bullying involves physical threats, contact police.

• If a child tells you they have been cyberbullied, reassure them it is all right to trust you.
• If the bullying involves physical threats, contact police.
• Save evidence of messages and/or images.
• Reassure the child you will not remove their technology as a kneejerk reaction to problems.
• If you think the bully is at the child's school, contact the school as soon as possible.
• Report internet cyberbullying to the website on which it was conducted.
• If you can, block incoming bullying messages.

Source: www.netsafe.org.nz

Where to get help
Lifeline: 0800-543-354 (available 24/7). Youthline: 0800-376-633, free text 234, email: talk@youthline.co.nz (available 24/7).

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 14): (4pm-6pm weekdays) - 0800-543-754 (0800-kidsline).

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