Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 14 July 2011 Contents LOCAL NEWS
14 July, 2011 | Page 17
Fiordland parents were delivered a heartfelt
yet hard-hitting reminder on the need to
monitor their children’s use of technology
at a public forum on cyber bullying at the Te
Anau Club on Tuesday night.
About 50 people turned out to hear
from Oamaru mother Helen Algar and
her Gazump safety programme partner
Sharleen Stirling, of Christchurch, who
earlier in the day had worked with students
at Fiordland College. Their visit was
organised by the Lighthouse Youth Centre
Trust with funding from the Southern
Primary Health Organisation.
Mrs Algar’s son took his own life about eight
years ago and his family later discovered
he’d been subjected to years of text bullying
which had continued throughout the night
before his death.
“It was a text message that sent Daniel
out the door that night,” she said. “I don’t
blame (the person who sent the text) as
that was one symptom of an ongoing
bullying campaign. It just happened that
that was the last straw.”
Speaking out had been the hardest thing
the family had ever done but Mrs Algar said
she owed it to her son.
“I feel like I failed my own son and I’d like
to make up for that,” she said. “He wanted
to be a politician and he wanted to change
the world and I really believe he would have
done it... this is his legacy.”
She urged parents not to be afraid of
technology but rather to learn more about
it and be responsible for their kids’ access
to it and the ways in which they used it. She
suggested household rules that forbade
phones in bedrooms overnight– if for no
other reason than kids needed eight hours
of uninterrupted sleep a night.
Mrs Stirling suggested parents draw up
a cellphone contract with their children.
Phones were potentially a “lethal weapon”
and just as they wouldn’t let their children
drive cars without proper instruction,
neither should they give them a cellphone
without talking through correct and safe use
Te Anau constable James Ure told the
gathering that police were becoming
increasingly concerned with the ways in
which teenagers in the Fiordland area were
using cellphones and computers.
“Some of the things we’ve seen have been
horrifically shocking,” he said.
They included teens making arrangements
for sexual meetings, explicit sexual
bragging, sharing inappropriate photos of
themselves or bragging about assaults or
other serious criminal offending.
Technology created a difficult moral
dilemma for parents and police.
Traditionally parents could monitor who
their children were socialising with, he said.
“Now they’ve got the ability to make
associations that you would never normally
Matt Taylor, a forensic analyst from the
police electronic crime laboratory in
Dunedin reinforced that when he gave
the audience a shocking insight into the
patience and perseverance paedophiles
demonstrated when identifying and
grooming youngsters for sex.
And it was no use assuming that Fiordland’s
isolation would be barrier to online
predators because they had demonstrated
they would travel.
“A paedophile will go to great lengths to
violate a young child,” he said.
The stranger danger message needed to
be reinforced in the online environment.
The number of Facebook “friends” a young
person had was often seen as a status
symbol among peers, opening them up to
accepting friend requests from people they
didn’t know. The message was simple: “if
you don’t know them, they are not your
All speakers reinforced that parents should
not try to ban their kids from using the
technology, nor should they be afraid of
it. But they did emphasise the need to be
aware of it and how it could be – and was
being – used.
Parents unfamiliar with social networking
sites, such as Facebook, were invited to
register for a short course as a follow-up to
Tuesday night’s meeting. Those interested
can contact youth centre on (03) 249-8800.
Sample cellphone contracts can also be
picked up from the youth centre or the Te
Anau police station.
Parents confronted with cyber dangers
Gazump safety programme co-ordinators Sharleen Stirling and Helen Algar, with Matt Taylor, a
forensic analyst at the police electronic crime laboratory in Dunedin, pictured following a public
meeting in Te Anau on Tuesday night aimed at educating parents about cyber bullying and the
dangers of modern technology to their kids.
Heavy snow forced the extended closure of the Milford Road this week. While it halted tourism
business, it made for a busy week for Downer EDI Works staff. Here Wayne Carran is pictured
supervising snow plows.
PHOTO: Barry Harcourt.
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