'We always want to be doing more' - anti-bullying group aided by $100,00 injection from Facebook

A Central Otago-based anti-bullying organisation has been given $100,000 by Facebook to make their youth-driven programme national.

Sticks 'n' Stones' aim is to use the money to train 500 students from 40 schools around the country in 2019 to give support to others dealing with negative online behaviour and lead internet safety initiatives.

It's predicted the plan for Online Safety Advocates could help more than 15,000 young people in the first year of the programme.

"We'll be having regional activator workshops right across the country - Christchurch, West Coast, Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton, Invercargill, Nelson, right across the country so that young people have the opportunity to connect and then engage in the online training programme, create a collaborative community right across the country," founder Karla Sanders said.

A launch for the online safety programme was held in Wellington today, with high school students taking part in workshops to help shape what the programme will look like.

Wellington High School Year 12 student Liberty Mcintyre-Reet said it's hard to feel connected if you're being bullied online.

"It's kind of hard to walk into a classroom or say hi to people if you know behind their back it's not going right," she said.

She said it's more helpful and influential for support to come from peers than adults.

"It's been a bit of an eye-opener into how much of an impact we can have," she said.

St Patrick's College student Ryan Jennings said the internet changes rapidly, but guidance on how to keep safe online has been lacking.

He said the Sticks 'n' Stones launch event has helped him learn how to support others dealing with online bullying.

Netsafe research shows seven out of 10 teenagers experienced at least one type of unwanted communication online in the past year.

Facebook global safety director Antigone Davis said Facebook, which also owns social media platform Instagram, takes the responsibility to make sure their sites are safe places for users "very seriously" but said there's always more that can be done.

"We are constantly looking to make sure that we are diminishing online abuse.

"We are doing a lot, we are investing in our policies, we are investing heavily in our tools, investing in programmes like this but we always want to be doing more because we really want to safeguard all the really incredible, positive things that we seen online," Ms Davis said.

Ms Davis said Facebook accepts people may encounter negative behaviour and that's why the company wants to make sure people know how to report it and that its technology development and policies to deal with online abuse are the best possible.

She said Facebook is working with Harvard University's internet research centre on lesson plans schools can use to teach children about safe practices online.

Facebook have chipped in to help train students how to deal with online bullies. Source: 1 NEWS