Inside the world of text bullying

Inside the world of text bullying

If you're a parent with a teenager, chances are they use a device – a phone or a tablet.

Chances are you have no idea what they're doing with that device.

Seventy-five percent of parents surveyed recently said they didn't know what their child did online, and half said they'd never had a conversation with their child about cyber bullying.

Have Kiwi parents got their heads in the sand over this? Is it even an issue in New Zealand?

Tragically, yes it is.

Story met a private investigator with the ability to enter your child's virtual reality.

Cyber bullies might regard Mike Chappell as their worst nightmare. To some parents he's a godsend.

Anxious parents bring their child's phone or device to him, and within minutes, he can access content – images, text messages – even those that have been deleted.

What he's seen, what he's read, is shocking – "Why don't you go and jump off the bridge? Why don't you go and cut your throat?"

These are Kiwi teenagers, someone's son, but mostly someone's daughter, texting another suggesting they take their own life.

"They send photos of dead animals, all this sort of thing – 'this is what we're going to do to your cat and your dog,'" says Mr Chappell. "It's absolutely shocking, but these kids they think that there are no consequences. They think they can do whatever they want, say whatever they want."

But under the new cyber bully legislation, if the recipient can prove the message caused serious emotional distress, the sender can face jail time and up to three years imprisonment for inciting someone to take their own life.

Watch the video for the full Story report.