OPINION: Kids have it tough these days. While bullying has always been a part of school-life, these days there's no escape. Assaults, teasing and exclusion happens at school, but the relentless taunts, toxic rumours and even threats of violence follow children on social media.
All children want to be liked and accepted.
A report from Unicef shows more than one in three Kiwi kids suffer bullying at school, and 35 percent of Kiwi kids aged between 13 and 15 complained of being bullied every month. A staggering 20 percent of youth, each year, say they're harmed by cyberbullying, according to Netsafe.
Is it any wonder that New Zealand has the worst teen suicide rate in the developed world?
Schools need to take a harder stance on bullying. Every time an incident of bullying is reported on, the school inevitably says it's a "one-off" incident, and that the school has a "zero tolerance" for bullying.
Clearly this stance is not effective.
Newshub has launched a six-part series on bullying #StandStrongNZ exploring the issues around bullying in schools.
We speak to those who have been bullied, families left behind when bullying became too much, and a school that acknowledges the seriousness of bullying and is taking steps to address it. Some well-known Kiwis share their stories, proving that bullying can happen to anyone. It's inspiring to see how people can succeed, despite suffering appalling bullying during their school years.
Parents, teachers, care-givers and principals all have roles to play in the battle against bullying. The key is engagement. The fight against bullying is everyone's responsibility. The cost is far too great.
Stand Strong NZ is a series exploring the issues around bullying and what's being done to reduce the harm.
Rhonwyn Newson is Newshub's features editor.