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NZ schools worried about "text bullying"

Catholic schools in New Zealand are acting to restrict the use of mobile phones by students following incidences of "text bullying" that has been linked to student suicide in at least one case.

Principal of Rotorua's John Paul II College, Patrick Walsh, said phone bullying is not only bad for students, but also a potential legal liability for the schools.

In phone bullying, one student's number is passed to another who doesn't like the first student. The number is then sent to others, who bombard the victim with hurtful texts.

President of the Secondary School Principals' Association, Paul Ferris, said text bullying is a recent phenomenon because of the recent "profusion of mobile phones".

Most schools ban mobile phones in classrooms, but a student could be using a mobile phone in the playground, and teachers would not know unless a student or parent reported the bullying.

The deputy principal of Marian College, Christchurch, Lyn Fouldes, said students did not use mobile phones at school. "We don't want to see them, or they get confiscated."

Bullying was picked up as part of the school's normal, written [safety] policy. However, they were aware that phone bullying did happen, particularly out of school.

Schools act on mobile phones (NZ Catholic 30/5/04)

Queensland schools ban mobile bullying (ZDNet 28/4/04)
Experts debate text bullying (BBC 18/3/03)
Youngsters targeted by digital bullies (BBC 15/4/02)

32 Jun 2004