Harassment on the internet is on the rise with 64 percent of young people in the sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities reporting being on the receiving end of abuse and insults.
The research from internet security company, Norton, reveals a significant increase in the number of people in New Zealand who report online harassment.
Norton aims to better understand what kind of impact the exposure of a range of online harassment has on New Zealanders. This harassment can range from trolling and character assassinations to sexual harassment, cyberbullying and threats of violence.
The sex, sexuality and gender diverse communities are also among the most likely to be targeted by threats of physical violence.
“Just like physical and verbal bullying, online bullying can have a harmful effect on mental health,” says Mental Health Foundation Research Development & Advocacy Manager Moira Clunie.
“It can lead to low self-esteem, feelings of anxiety or depression, loneliness, sleeplessness and, sometimes, physical pain such as headaches or stomach-aches.”
If you are experiencing online harassment, Clunie says to first remember that no one deserves to be bullied.
“Harassment is always unacceptable and you deserve respect and support.”
“Reaching out to other members of your community can help you feel safe, supported and like you belong.
“Tell someone you trust – you don’t have to go through this alone.”
You can also contact New Zealand’s independent, non-profit online safety organisation, Netsafe and its support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723).
“They can help you decide how you’d like to respond and whether the Harmful Digital Communications Act has recourse for you that might help the harassment to stop.
“Take screenshots of all cases of harassment – if you decide to report it this will be really useful. Don’t respond to the harassment or react in any way. If you feel comfortable doing so, block them.
“Look after yourself and do some things that help you feel safe and comforted. Some ideas include listening to music, reading a book, hanging out with friends or doing some exercise.”
The new data is a result of a survey of 999 adults aged 18 and over.