From the Principal

By Mr Ryan Wilson, Acting Principal | Posted: Wednesday August 19, 2020

Kia ora,

Improving the well-being of our students at Geraldine High School is something we put a lot of time and effort into. Students with a high level of wellbeing are more likely to be confident successful learners who relate well to others by showing strong interpersonal skills.

Recently, we have noticed a range of issues that are having a negative influence on our students wellbeing. We would like to share these with you, in case you would like to have a discussion with your son and daughter about them. Both issues are things that mostly happen out of school time, but through the capability of technology and social media they have an impact on our students when they come to school.

The first one is the sharing of explicit photos. We have discovered a number of students have been sharing explicit photos with their friends. Some of these are of other students but also what they term “random nudes”. We know that online pornography is relatively easy to access and we know that some of our younger students are accessing it - including Year 8s. Some of our senior students mentioned that they were pressured in Year 9 to share photos of themselves. This sometimes occurred when they were “going out” with someone but not always. This is not just a problem at Geraldine High School. Research shows that it is happening throughout NZ schools and is becoming a growing trend. You might like to read this recent stuff article about it: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/parenting/122068860/kiwi-kids-exposure-to-pornography-horrifying-doco-makers-say. We are looking to get an expert to come to our community to talk about this issue in more depth and highlight strategies to keep our young people safe. Unfortunately this can’t happen at the moment with our current Covid alert level. You may like to open the discussion with your son or daughter now to get some better insight and understanding into their experiences and perspective.

The second is the occurrence of online bullying, particularly through social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. While this largely happens out of school time, its impact on students when they are in school is serious. This cyber bullying can be very discreet, but we are noticing it is having a significant negative effect on the mental health of our students. Messages, photos and videos can quickly and easily get deleted and then there is very little evidence of what has happened. It would be great to encourage your son or daughter to get used to taking a screenshot of evidence when someone is being mean to them, so that they and you have some evidence to help put a stop to it.

If we can work together to educate our young people about how to use technology (mainly our phones) to create and grow healthy connected relationships we will stand a better chance of stamping out the destructive, anti-social behaviours that are causing our students harm.

He waka eke noa