NZ high schools to benefit from Facebook, Sticks n Stones partnership

Facebook partners with Sticks 'n' Stones, supporting online safety in NZ high schools - Photo / Supplied

Social media giant Facebook has teamed up with a local anti-bullying organisation, Sticks 'n' Stones, to take their commitment to online safety into high schools across Aotearoa.

Based in Central Otago, Sticks 'n' Stones is a youth-driven programme which deals with teen safety and well-being through peer-to-peer support and learning.

As a result of the new partnership, 500 online advocates from over 40 schools will be trained by Sticks 'n' Stones to support more than 15,000 Kiwi youth in urban, rural and remote communities.

Founder of Sticks 'n' Stones, Karla Sanders says, “We believe everyone has the right to be their real selves and that this diversity makes our world a better place to live and thrive."

She says, "Facebook’s support will enable us to upscale our work and empower hundreds of Online Advocates to support thousands of young people stand up to all forms of bullying and protect their friends."

The partnership will also build on Sticks 'n' Stones augmented training approach combing in-person workshops with online modules through its "It Starts With You" platform.

Director and Head of Global Safety Policy at Facebook, Antigone Davis says, “This partnership is the next step in our ongoing effort to help young people build safe and supportive communities."

She says, “Over the last decade, we have developed a wealth of innovative resources on Facebook that enable young people to look after themselves and their peers, from our updated Safety Centre to our online reporting tools."

The programme will kick off with “regional activator” events held across the country in host schools. These full-day workshops are attended by teams of 4-8 students from 4-6 local schools and a teacher champion who will support them back in school.

Workshops are said to be high energy, interactive and give a range of practical activities, ideas and resources for kicking off the Online Advocate partnership in each school.

Events are set to take place in Invercargill, Dunedin, Christchurch, Timaru, Westport/Greymouth, Nelson, Wellington, Hamilton, Rotorua, Napier and Auckland.

Davis says, “We are thrilled to take this commitment offline and into schools by offering trained online advocates to every high school in New Zealand.”

“The Online Advocates program aims to bring young Kiwis together to explore online safety issues in the real world in a safe, supportive environment. We look forward to getting feedback and input from students that can add even more peer-led ideas and initiatives in the future.”