Cyberbullying costs NZ $444mil annually

By Raniera Harrison

National online safety organisation, Netsafe has for the first time provided the real financial cost of cyberbullying- a staggering $444mil annually.

The figure comes as Netsafe prepares to provide greater support for Māori, who are leading mental health and suicide statistics.

"There's no denying that online harm has a significant effect on an individual's mental health and it's right that Māori have greater issues with that so they need greater support," says Netsafe representative Sean Lyons.

Numerous delegations of world-leading online safety specialists are in Auckland seeking solutions for cyberbullying- a problem which is not only rampant here in Aotearoa but around the world.

"It is a trans-national problem.  Although it might exist within our borders, sometimes the issues will start overseas, sometimes the issues start here and affect people overseas. That idea of trans-national cooperation is big with us."

The report aims to quantify the cost of cyberbullying, finding that the annual 'personal' cost of cyberbulling in NZ is $78mil, while the interventions nationwide cost the taxpayer $366mil a year.  

"Not to get lost in the fact that- it's not just about money.  These are people that are being harmed through this- the number helps us to quantify the problem and get an idea of the scale of the problem here in NZ," says Lyons.

Netsafe says additional interventions against cyberbullying could focus on destigmatising seeking help within Māori communities.

"The ability to go to a school that's experiencing issues or is looking to build its own capability is the right fertile environment for us to be working in."

Following the release of the report there is a greater push for "international coordination of legislation" and enforcement, according to Lyons.

"Make what we've learnt, make what we understand available to other nations that want to build on that, and build their own legislation that fits their own particular context and hopefully that'll help us align legislations around the world."