Ngapuhi mum loses daughter to cyber-bullying

By Raniera Harrison

Whangārei mother Paula Mills, of Ngāpuhi, says that she will never let her daughter Summer's unexpected passing go in vain.

"The torment she was going through- she kept it well hidden," says Mills, who found her daughter deceased at their rural Whangārei home in June, after allegedly being the victim of months of online bullying.

"I found her and performed CPR on her.  I can't explain the agony."

New research shows three in five teenage females have been victims of online bullying.

"Anger kicks in because you actually begin to realise it's needless, that your baby has been bullied to feel so low," says Mills.

Now, National MP for Whangārei Dr Shane Reti is calling on New Zealand's independent online safety organisation for a solution.

"I think it may be a bit too heavy-handed for Netsafe to walk in, by default, to a school.  I believe they can do that anyway through a collaborative approach with boards of trustees," says Reti.

Reti, who is the National Party's spokesman for safety on the internet, addressed a community meeting today in Whangārei to raise awareness around the pitfalls of cyber-bullying.

"We know from recent studies that New Zealand is third in the world behind India and Brazil for cyber-bullying, and we know that from previous studies on traditional bullying we're second in the world.  We do have this bullying culture that we need to attend to."

Mills agrees that awareness around the issue is paramount.

"Forgiveness is a hard thing to do- but it's got to be done, or else it'll eat me up inside and that's not helpful or providing solutions for any of us."

If you are concerned about someone who may need help, contact Lifeline 0800 543 534 or the Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 TAUTOKO.