The good news is, you’re not alone and we’ve designed this carer pack to help you navigate the journey together.



This means there’s more useful info available by telephone or online. The phone numbers and website addresses can be found here.


The Youth19 survey information or data we have sourced from this survey to show that our teens are doing ok.


The latest Youth2000 survey information or data we’ve sourced from this survey to show that our teens are doing ok.

Your expectations of them and why.
That you trust them to make the right decisions.
That they have their whole lives ahead of them.
How to listen to their gut instinct, and know that if it doesn’t feel right, they shouldn’t do it.
It’s OK to say NO to something they don’t want.
How to have fun and stay safe

     What teenagers want their parents and guardians to know

  • It helps us if you can be the calm in our storm and remind us you love us unconditionally.
  • That making mistakes and experimenting is part of growing up and learning
  • If we have done something wrong tell us off, but don’t go on and on about it
  • Give us a chance to collect our thoughts and discuss things with you
  • Remember the good things we do, do not just focus on the bad
  • We need boundaries, we need you to say no sometimes and stick to it
  • Give a valid response to our questions. If we understand the reason, it’s easier for us to respect it
  • Encourage us to keep going, we like your approval (even if you think we don’t need it, we do).
  • If you make a mistake, admit it – if you do wrong, apologise
  • Be interested and present in our lives, but also respect our privacy
  • Give us your time by listening and be patient with us
  • Get to know our friends before you judge them
  • Trust us, we need the freedom at times to figure things out on our own
  • You are our role model – we are looking at you to help shape our lives and behaviour



What parents want teenagers to know

  • We are interested in what is going on in your life and we want to be part of it
  • We want to get to know your friends
  • We also make mistakes
  • Try to understand our values and the reasons why we do certain things
  • Listen to our opinions and what we have to say.
  • If you can’t talk to me/us, please talk to someone you trust
  • Open and honest communication
  • Believe us when we say we want what is best for you

Teens are learning to juggle a healthy life balance. However, conflicting priorities and responsibilities
can put teenagers under pressure, putting this balance at risk.

Here are some tips to pass on to your teenager to help them manage a healthy ‘life balance:’

Set priorities
Setting priorities is all about deciding what is most important and needs to be done first. Help your
teen work out what needs to be done early in the week, and what can be done later. If they focus on
a few daily tasks, rather than worry about everything all at once, they will do a better job on each
assignment (and in life.)

Do not be an over-achiever
Assignments, chores, sports, commitments, family obligations—teenagers can end up stressed and
overwhelmed. Remind them they cannot do everything. Encourage them to have time to relax, have
fun, and look after themselves.

Set realistic goals
Help your teen set realistic goals they have control over. If they are setting them too high, this will
only add to their stress.

It is normal to get overwhelmed
If you can see your teen is feeling overwhelmed, do not be afraid to step in and offer your help or
support. Helping them work out what they might be able to cut out of their busy schedule could help
them feel less overwhelmed.

Teach them to take care of themselves
It is important that your teenager learns the value of a healthy diet, regular exercise, 8+ hours sleep,
and the role healthy habits play in relieving stress.

Me time
Encourage them to schedule some time into their day to have some space and privacy to do
something they enjoy. Even if it is only for 30 minutes.

At FOURTEEN they can…

  • Be left alone at home
  • Be criminally charged and go before a Youth or Rangatahi Court
  • Babysit

At SIXTEEN they can…

  • Sit a driving test and obtain a learner licence
  • Leave home without consent
  • Get married/enter a civil union with parental consent
  • Decide which parent they live with – if separated
  • Agree to, or refuse, medical treatment
  • Leave school and work full-time
  • Be expelled from school
  • Apply for youth benefits (if they no longer live at home and do not have dependents)
  • Apply for a firearms licence
  • Consent to sexual intercourse
  • Be treated for a sexually transmitted infection without parental consent
  • Get the minimum wage
  • Start work full time
  • Live with their partner

What teenagers want their parents and guardians to know

  • Act independently of their parents (legal guardianship ceases)
  • Marry or enter a civil union without parental consent
  • Make a will
  • Buy fireworks, alcohol, cigarettes, e-cigarettes (vapes) and tobacco
  • Be charged under the adult court system
  • Be questioned by police without a parent or guardian present
  • Join the Police
  • Change their name
  • Get a cheque account, credit card or loan
  • Place bets at any TAB, racecourse, or casino and buy lottery tickets
  • Vote in elections and stand as a candidate
  • Be called up for jury service


     At any age a teenager:

  • Must wear a helmet on a bike
  • Must wear their seatbelt or be in a legally compliant restraint when travelling in a vehicle

    They can:

  • Get a passport (under 16s will need consent from a parent or caregiver)
  • Travel overseas
  • Make a claim in the Disputes Tribunal
  • Buy contraceptives
  • Can consent to have, or not have, an abortion without parental consent
  • Join a union
  • Negotiate an employment agreement

At any age they have the right to not be discriminated against based on their sex, religious or ethical
beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, political opinion, employment or family status, and marital

Is there a legal age for getting a tattoo or a piercing?

The legal age for getting a tattoo in New Zealand is 18. However, it is possible to get a tattoo if
younger, but only with parental / caregiver consent.

  • A tattoo artist must provide a consent form to be signed before proceeding with the tattoo and
    should only proceed if consent is given. This means that if a teenager is under the age limit, but
    has parent’s/legal guardian’s permission, they can get a tattoo or body piercing
  • Members of the Tattoo Artists Association of New Zealand operate by a code of ethics which
    says that they won’t tattoo anyone under the age of 18 without parental consent


Check out the Youth Law website for more information and details –

Teenagers can experience a mix of emotions when their parents or guardians separate.
Some may feel grief, anger, sadness, anxiousness, and confusion over this change to their family.
Separations of a loved one will affect everyone differently, so it is important to initiate honest and
open conversations with them.

Most teens still look to their parents to help them feel loved, safe, and secure. Your teens have few
choices and rely on you and the other parent to make the right decisions on their behalf.

Teens often feel responsible for their parents’ separation, and this can lead to feelings of guilt as
well as a belief that they can bring you back together. They may bury their own feelings so as not to
make you feel worse. Any conflict that occurs during your separation will have a particularly
unsettling effect on them.

Helping your teen cope

Suggestions to help your teen cope include:

  • Be aware that teens tend to hide their true feelings so spend time with them encouraging them
    to talk about their feelings openly. This may include someone who is objective and outside the
    family unit – such as a school counsellor, or close family friend
  • It’s OK to have a range of different feelings and emotions, suggest healthy ways to express these
  • Share your own feelings – for example, say something like ‘I’m feeling pretty sad today, how are
    you feeling?’ If they aren’t ready to talk, don’t force it, but try again at a later date
  • Let the teen know that you and their other parent will continue to love them and always be
    there for them
  • Some teens may find it difficult to talk about their feelings. Try talking about things while you’re
    doing something else. Talking side by side without eye contact may feel much more comfortable
  • Arrange as much contact with the absent parent as possible on behalf of your children
  • If you have a new spouse after a separation, assure your children that your new spouse is not a
    replacement parent, but instead another person to love and support them
  • Remind them that the hurt will lessen with time
  • Read books together on separation and divorce
  • Be prepared to have things said to you that may be hard to hear. Your teenager may well tell you
    that it is your fault.
  • Validate their feelings, fears and/or concerns

Becoming a stepparent can be both challenging and rewarding. It is important to talk openly with  your partner about the expectations, take things very slowly so that everyone has time to adjust.  Over time, you can take on more of a parenting role if that is what you all want. 

Meeting the challenges  

When your family first blends, don’t expect things to be wonderful overnight. There will be some  definite highs and lows before things start to even out into a comfortable balance for everyone. It  is important to give everyone some time to get used to this new arrangement.  

Ease into discipline  

Set boundaries around discipline with your partner, so together you can agree on consistent  guidelines and rules. Discuss everything. Never keep emotions bottled up, listen respectfully, and  always provide opportunities for communication. Let the parent remain primarily responsible for the  discipline of their child/ren until the stepparent has developed a strong bond. 

Take time and don’t expect too much too soon 

Blended families take time to adjust. The plan is for you to be in their lives for the rest of your life.  There is plenty of time to build relationships with your new partner’s children and to establish your  role within this new dynamic. 

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help  

Remember, you are not alone in this and there are lots of people here to help you. Try talking to a  friend first, but if you feel like you need more professional advice there are some useful links (below)  that can help you with information and connect you with the right people to talk to.


Alcohol is part of kiwi culture. Our teens see adults drinking alcohol (often in excess) at all sorts of  social gatherings and celebrations. Is it any wonder that they want to include alcohol in their  gatherings and celebrations as well?

Talking with your teen about alcohol is one of the most important conversations you’ll have. Setting  good ground rules, modelling responsible drinking behaviour, and arming your teen with the facts  about alcohol will help them make better choices around drinking.

Alcohol is a depressant that can have serious side effects. Small amounts of alcohol can be social and  fun – large amounts can be toxic and dangerous. Alcohol impairs judgement and can increase the risk  of teens having unprotected and casual sex. It can also result in risky behaviour.

Step up and have the talk!

Just like when you had the sex talk with your teen, talking about alcohol, parties and staying safe  may seem a daunting task. But you have influence and the facts – and you can ensure your teen has the right information to make informed and better choices.

Delay, delay, delay

Teenagers’ brains are still developing, which means they are more susceptible to alcohol-related  harm. Even small amounts can harm a young person, so it is best to delay introducing your teen to  alcohol for as long as possible.

Give them the facts

Your teens are still maturing physically, mentally, and emotionally and are more susceptible to harm  when socialising with alcohol. The levels of intoxication and effects depend on things like body size,  metabolism, personal experience, mood, and circumstances such as whether consumed with food or  taken with other drugs.

Set and enforce the ground rules

Consistency is key with every aspect of parenting, and rules around drinking are no different. Every  family will make different choices around how they introduce alcohol. Just make sure your teen  understands what the rules are, and that it is done in safe way.

Be a good role model

Displaying responsible drinking behaviour makes a big difference to how your teen will drink and  how they view alcohol. Eating together before your teen goes out, talking about their plans and how  they will keep safe, ensuring your own drinking stays within safe drinking guidelines and reminding  your teen that you’re always there for them at the end of the night are all ways you can help your  teen learn to drink smarter.

YS2020 The proportion of secondary students who have never drunk alcohol (more than a few sips)  increased markedly from 26% in 2007, to 39% in 2012, and to 45% in 2019. 

For parents: It is illegal to supply alcohol to someone under 18 years unless: 

  • the person supplying the alcohol is their parent or legal guardian AND the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner, OR
  • the person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the teenager’s parent or legal guardian AND the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner

* You could be fined up to $2,000 if you don’t follow this law.

If you buy alcohol for your teenager, you must be satisfied that it will be consumed in a responsible  manner. 

If someone else is supplying alcohol to your teenager, you must give your expressed consent and be  satisfied that it will also be consumed in a responsible manner. Express consent may include a  personal conversation, an email or txt message.

Binge drinking

This is one of the most dangerous types of drinking and one of the most common drinking cultures in  New Zealand. Binge-drinking is classed as drinking more than 5 standard drinks per occasion (usually  within a 4-hour period). It also means consuming drinks in quick succession.

It is also sometimes called ‘drinking to get drunk’ or ‘preloading.’ In New Zealand, nearly half of  drinkers between 12 and 24 years old will drink more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion.

The main risks to young people from drinking too much include being involved in violence, other  crimes or antisocial behaviour, sexual assaults, unprotected sex, accidental injury, and alcohol  poisoning (which can cause death).

Parents who introduce their teens to alcohol run the risk of their teen developing a casual attitude  towards alcohol.

YS2020 – There has been a decline in youth binge drinking since its peak of 36% in 2007. In 2019,  well over half of past month drinkers (62%) engaged in binge drinking – showing that it remains a  dominant drinking pattern among NZ teens that drink.


Check out Alcohol & Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797 or for more  resources and help.

Hosting a party – this can be a time to make a fun plan, and a time to set boundaries that you and  your teenager are both happy with. 

There is a lot of work involved in hosting a safe teen party and these tips are a starting point for  helping you plan and manage the event:

  • Decide on guest list names and numbers. Check people off the list as they arrive – this keeps gate crashers out
  • Have a single entrance – one way in and one way out
  • Plan out a big space with plenty of room for the teens to hang out
  • Decide in advance what happens if someone becomes sick or is seriously injured e.g. call their parents, emergency services, or have another plan in place
  • Set a start and finish time for the party. The guests should know when to arrive and when to leave. This also helps them to arrange to be picked up.
  • If there is alcohol present or if teens are bringing alcohol, the host must have received consent from the guest’s parent/caregiver
  • Make sure details are clear on invitations – start and finish times, whether alcohol will be permitted, no illegal drugs permitted etc
  • Provide food and non-alcoholic beverages. Make sure you have plenty to offer on the day so that every attendee has access to food and water/non-alcoholic beverages
  • Try to avoid the party being shared on social media. If your teenager does set up a Facebook event, make sure it’s settings are on ‘Private’ and ‘Invite Only.’ This ensures that only the people invited have access to the details of the party.
  • Supervise, but don’t be intrusive. Don’t go out and leave them unattended.
  • Let your neighbors know in case they want to make arrangements to head out

Call the Police if someone is ‘out of control’ or you have unwelcome intruders. It is their job to  manage these situations. Do not use physical force to remove any unwanted guests. 

If your teenager is attending a party – don’t be afraid to contact the host’s parents and check on  details such as supervision, time and location, and arrangements regarding alcohol and transport. 

Be open with your teen about why you are asking for details about the party they want to attend  You could explain why you’re asking. For example, you might say, ‘I’m worried that you might be at  risk at this party. I am not comfortable with you going if I’m not sure you will be safe’.

If things get out of control at the party – If there is violence or drugs, they feel threatened or  frightened, or the designated driver has been drinking, it’s important that your teen has a plan to get  out of the situation. A plan can help avoid feelings of embarrassment for leaving the party early. Let  them know that they can call you at any time, under any conditions if they or their friends need your  help – no questions asked. Pop some money in their wallet for a taxi home or set up an Uber  account for them as a back up

As a backup, or if their friends need assistance, ask your teens to have the numbers of their friends’  parent(s) saved in their phones.



Daily smoking among youth is at an all-time low of 1.3% in 2021. The most recent NZHS findings  suggest that, for 15–17-year-olds, a daily smoking plateau from 2016/17 to–2019/20 was followed  by a substantial decline from 3% to 1% between 2019/20 and 2020/21

Smoking is more common in students living in smaller towns, compared with urban or rural areas. 

Facts about tobacco smoking

Smoking kills more people in New Zealand each year than road crashes, alcohol, other drugs, suicide,  murder, drowning and earthquakes – all put together!

Smoking is as addictive as drugs like heroin or cocaine. Once you are a regular smoker it will take on  average 11 attempts to quit before you are successful. 

What you can do

  • Set an example at home for your teens and make it a smoke-free environment • If you are a smoker, you are an advertisement for your teens to start smoking. Don’t smoke in front of your teens. Quit smoking: support and advice and low-cost nicotine replacement therapy is widely available through Quitline or your GP
  • If you are a smoker, you are an advertisement for your teens to start smoking. Don’t smoke in front of your teens. Quit smoking: support and advice and low-cost nicotine replacement therapy is widely available through Quitline or your GP
  • If your teen is smoking, support them in quitting. Don’t lecture – instead ask them what they consider to be the negative aspects of smoking. For example, it gives you bad breath, it makes your hair and clothes smell, it turns your teeth and fingers yellow, it harms lung  function and physical performance
  • If you are aware of a retailer selling to youth, contact the Public Health Service so they can investigate

Vaping is here … but is it safe?

Vapes or electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat e-liquid and create a vapour  that users breathe in. There is evidence that switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping can reduce  harm and help smokers to quit. Some say it’s as bad as smoking, others say it helps with quitting  smoking. It is actually somewhere in the middle: vaping is not for non-smokers, but it has the  potential to help smokers quit.

Smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco, which can cause smoking-related illnesses while  vaping delivers nicotine in a much less harmful way by heating a liquid. Although nicotine is  addictive, it doesn’t cause cancer.

What are the risks of vaping?

The long-term effects of vaping are not known; however, it could lead teenagers to start smoking.  The Ministry of Health warns against e-cigarette use, particularly in young people as e-liquids  contain nicotine which is addictive and may affect brain development.


Vaping has emerged as a new issue in the past decade, with data sources all showing a rapid  increase in teens e-cigarette use. The majority of e-cigarette use among teens is experimental, with  ever use high compared to regular use.

Cannabis affects people differently. Some can feel relaxed, others can become paranoid, depressed  or confused. For some people there can be a higher risk of triggering mental illness. 

Smoking a lot of cannabis can make it harder to learn, concentrate, play sports and find work. Effects  can vary depending on situation, mood and amount consumed. Cannabis products vary in strength  and quality and their effects may be unpredictable. 

Cannabis affects developing brains more than adults. A lot of cannabis use as a teenager can cause  anxiety, memory loss and shorten their attention span.

Cannabis has also been linked to teen violence, suicide and mental health issues like schizophrenia,  early dementia and depression. Cannabis can be detected in urine for a number of weeks after use.

YS2020– The percentage of students who had ever tried marijuana has decreased, especially among  younger students. 39% of students had tried marijuana in 2001, compared with 27% in 2007 and  23% in 2019. 4.1% of students reported using it weekly or more often.

What to look for

If you think your teen may be abusing drugs (including alcohol), look for these symptoms: 


Nasty, moody, irritable, unreasonable, angry, lying, occasional memory loss, slurred or slow speech,  red, watery eyes, lack of energy, apathy, poor coordination, loss of involvement or enthusiasm,  overreaction to criticism, paranoia, lack of pride in appearance. 


Frequently ill in the morning, miraculously well in the evening, chronic coughing. 

Change in friends

Sudden avoidance of old friends, has new friends you don’t know, makes private phone calls and has  private meetings away from home. 


Unable to explain how money is spent or where it comes from, stealing money or unexplained new  purchases.

School problems

Unusual lateness, truancy, teachers notice a change in behaviour and performance. 

Other changes 

No interaction with family, hides in room, sleeping habits change, hangs out in parks, malls,  withdraws from sports or hobbies.

Strategies to address alcohol and other drugs

Share with your teenager that alcohol and other substances are powerful drugs that slow down the  body and mind. They impair coordination; slow reaction time; and impair vision, clear thinking, and  judgment.

You have more influence on your teen’s values and decisions about drinking before he or she begins  to use alcohol or use drugs.

Delay, delay, delay. Encourage your teen to delay when they start drinking alcohol and limit how  much and how frequent.

Sit down and set some reasonable rules around the use of alcohol. Be consistent with consequences  if these rules are broken. 

Parents play a significant and powerful role in shaping their teen’s beliefs and attitudes about  alcohol, through role-modelling of alcohol-related behaviours. Show them that you can refuse a  drink, and alcohol is not the central focus of all social gatherings. 

Harsh and inconsistent discipline and high family conflict are linked to higher levels of alcohol use.  Talk with parents of your teen’s friends. What do they do to handle the issues? See if you can all  work together to keep them safe. 

Keeping your teens busy and engaged emotionally with meaningful activities, or community  programmes can help relieve boredom which can be why teens try drugs. 

Teens who feel good about themselves are less likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.


Get Smart Drug & Alcohol Services: 0800 571 3712 or text 0274 487 678 Alcohol & Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797

What if your teenager: 

  1. Goes to a party without your consent.
  • Choose a good moment for you both to tell them how you feel about what they’ve done, including your worries for their safety. Give them a chance to explain. Go back over the rules you agreed to and take action – such as a grounding which includes  the following weekend
  1. Steals alcohol from you.
  • Handle it just like any stealing within your family. Discuss what has happened. Follow through by taking suitable action like making your teenager pay for the alcohol taken
  1. Starts experimenting with drugs.
  • Stay calm and find a good time to talk to them. Keep focused on the issue, include concerns for their safety and wellbeing, and long-term impacts on their health. Discuss agreements you have made and make sure you follow through with consequences
  1. Comes home drunk, vomiting.
  • If they are drunk, unconscious, or vomiting continuously, don’t leave them alone. Put them in the recovery position. Make sure they are breathing, and their airways are clear. Keep them warm. If you are unable to wake them, dial 111 for an ambulance
  1. Needs to be unexpectedly collected from a party.
  • Teens need to know their parents or caregiver are the first point of call for transport and a safe person to contact if there are any issues, whatever the time
  • Set up an uber account on the teens phone so they can always get home

You can be the best parent in the world, and young people can still get into trouble. 

Do not try to reason with a drunk or drugged teenager! Wait until the next day when they are sober or straight. 

Things to remember: Stay calm, and always go back to the agreement you made. If there were  consequences agreed upon, they must be carried out. 

Let them talk and give them the opportunity to explain what happened. Explain to them why their  behaviour is unacceptable to you and how you feel about it.

Most teenagers will experiment with sexual behaviour at some stage – this is normal, natural, and a  powerful urge in these years.

Young people might also talk to their friends, which is healthy and normal. They still need your back up, though, so keeping the lines of communication open is important. Teens needs to be well  informed and well equipped before having sex. Ensure they have plenty of valuable information so  they can make healthy decisions. 

If you want to be involved in shaping your teen’s ideas and attitudes about sex, start these  conversations early.

Things like:

  • They have the right to say ‘no,’ and should never feel pressured into doing something that doesn’t feel right
  • ‘Safe sex’ means caring for both your own health and the health of your partner by protecting against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
  • Sexual attraction and sexual identity are not the same. Young people who are attracted to the same sex might or might not identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. They might identify as heterosexual. Be able to provide some good resources and people they can talk to

Talking with your teen about sex, sexuality and relationships won’t encourage them to start having  sex before they’re ready. In fact, the opposite is true. Comfortable, open discussions about sex can  actually delay the start of sexual activity and lead to your teen having safer sexual experiences when they do start.

YS2019 21% of secondary school students report they have ever had sex, with males more likely to  report ever having sex than females. As would be expected, senior students were more likely to have  had sex (e.g., 41% of those aged 17 and over) compared to junior students (e.g., 6% of those aged 13  and under)



Family Planning offers a free service for anyone under the age of 22. There is a wide range of  contraception available to anyone of age. Some contraceptives are more effective than others.  Different methods suit different people, and can change depending on age, health status and the  status of your relationship.

Young people under the age of 16 can seek contraceptive advice and services without the consent of  their parents or guardians. 


Condoms can help prevent against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including  HIV. Condoms need to be accessible to all sexually active young people. Research tells us availability  does not increase sexual activity, but that lack of access is a barrier to sexual health. Condoms are  available from Family Planning, Tauranga Sexual Health, the School Nurse, GPs/Doctors,  supermarkets, chemists, service stations and vending machines. 

Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP)

The ECP can be taken up to 72 hours following sex to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, or  condom breakage. It can be obtained from doctors, chemists/pharmacies, Family Planning, or the  School Nurse. 

Unplanned pregnancy

If a pregnancy is unplanned, there can be an overwhelming feeling of emotions. Young woman will  need plenty of love, support and someone they trust to talk to. By understanding the range of  choices available to them, they can make the best decision for their circumstance. They will need to  spend time thinking and talking through their choices to help them make their decision.

Whether they decide to continue the pregnancy and parent the baby, adopt or arrange  guardianship, or to request an abortion, it is entirely their decision, and they should not feel  pressured or influenced by others. 

Guardianship is an arrangement between birth parents, and the caregivers and decides who has  custody and responsibility for raising the baby.

In NZ there is no legal age limit for a person choosing to have an abortion. This means that a female  of any age can consent to an abortion – or refuse to have one. Girls under 16 years of age do not  need to inform their parents or seek parental consent.

The Early Medical Abortion pill means women can have an abortion much earlier than a surgical one  and is typically possible within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. The Early Medical Abortion, is a free  service for women living within the BOPDHB area. If you want to know more about this, contact  Family Planning. 

Sexually transmitted infections

STIs, chlamydia, genital warts and gonorrhoea are increasing among young people. STIs are spread  through sex – vaginal, oral, or anal and can lead to infertility and pregnancy complications. STIs may  have no signs or symptoms and can go unnoticed, but they are still there causing damage. The risk of  getting an STI, including HIV, is greatly reduced by using a condom during sex.

If a teen is sexually active, make sure they are getting tested for STIs at least twice a year.

YS2019 Among students who are currently sexually active, 44% had talked with their partner about  preventing sexually transmitted infections. 58% of sexually active students reported using  contraception all the time to prevent pregnancy, 46% reported using condoms all the time to protect against sexually transmitted infections.


There are a number of helpful websites in the reference section at the bottom of this website.

YS2019 88.8% of males reported being attracted to the opposite sex (eg. I am a male attracted to  females.) 78.6% of females reported being attracted to the opposite sex. 5.5% of males and 13% of  females reported being attracted to the same or multiple sexes. 5.6% of males and 8.4% of females  were not sure of either.

Sexual orientation and gender identity can be a tricky subject to understand as parents, but there  are heaps of awesome resources to help build your understanding.

Some of our teens, may begin to realise that their attractions are not heterosexual (to the opposite  sex). It can feel like everyone is expecting them to be straight, because of this, some gay and lesbian  teens may feel different when their heterosexual peers start talking about romantic feelings, dating, and sex. 

  • Lesbian/gay/ homosexual – a person who is attracted to the same gender as themselves
  • Bisexual – a person who is sexually attracted to people of more than one gender, or their own and other genders.
  • Pansexual – a person who is attracted to people regardless of sex, gender or gender expression or someone who is attracted to all genders
  • Transgender – is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Queer – an umbrella term encompassing diverse sexuality and gender identities, it is often preferred by people who desire a more fluid term to describe their gender or sexuality.
  • Intersex – is an umbrella term that is used to describe people born with variations of internal and/or external sex anatomy. Bodies can’t be described as typically male or female.

LGBTQI+ teens might feel a need to pretend to feel things, so they fit in with people around them.  Everyone has worries about things like school, sports, or friends and fitting in. In addition to these  common worries, LGBTQI+ teens have an extra layer of things to think about, like whether they  should hide who they are.

Fears of prejudice, rejection, or bullying can lead LGBTQI+ teens to keep their sexual orientation and  gender orientation secret. This can have a deep impact on their overall wellbeing and mental health.

An attraction is not something we get to choose, and it’s not likely teens will ‘grow out of it.’ We  don’t ‘turn’ our teens gay or lesbian – they just are. While this may be challenging to our own values  and beliefs as parents, it is important that you accept them and love them just as they are. They will  need your support and validation more than ever now, to help them develop into healthy teens and  adults.

Understanding gender identity

Gender is the social and cultural construction based on the expectation of what it means to be a  man and/or a woman, including roles, expectations, and behaviour. Gender identity refers to each  individual’s internal and external experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the  sex recorded at birth. 


There may come a time where your teenager explores their identity, so here are some terms and  tips to help you understand:

  • Gender diverse: This term relates to those whose gender identities are situated outside of the binary of men and women, but who may not use the term ‘transgender’ or ‘trans’ to describe themselves.
  • Gender identity: An individual’s personal sense of having a particular gender.
  • Sex: Refers to how a person’s body is classified based on genitals, chromosomes, gonads etc. People often conflate sex and gender
  • Sexual orientation: Sexual orientation can be derived from their sexual attraction, sexual behaviour, and/or sexual identity


Gender identity terms:

  • Agender: A person without gender
  • Bi-gender: Can be any two genders at the same time, or go back and forth between the two
  • Cis-gender: Someone whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth; e.g. someone assigned male at birth who lives as a man
  • Gender fluid: No fixed gender identity, gender may change over time.
  • Non-binary: An umbrella term used to encompass people who may or may not identify with being transgender, and their gender may not fit into a binary of man or woman. Can also be used as an individual gender identity
  • Trans-feminine: Identifying on the feminine end of the gender spectrum. Often assigned male at birth
  • Trans-masculine: Identifying on the masculine end of the gender spectrum. Often assigned female at birth


If your teenager talks to you about their gender identity, here are some things you can do to be  supportive:

  • Use the correct pronoun they choose to describe their identity (they/him/her)
  • Be respectful of their gender identity – this is a powerful way to show you are an ally and supportive of them
  • Respond positively about their appearance – but only if you are asked
  • Remember that this is THEIR identity and their life – be respectful and affirming



✔ BOP Pride: a fun and supportive environment for people of the LGBTQI community wanting  to meet new people, network and engage in activities that build a stronger LGBTQI  community in the Bay of Plenty. Check out their Facebook group or email

✔ Gender Dynamix: specialist support for transgender people of all ages and their families to  create authentic spaces in our community where everyone can thrive. Gender Dynamix is  based in Tauranga and supports people throughout the Bay of Plenty. Learn more on their  website or email

✔ Rainbow Youth: is an Auckland-based national charitable organisation, that works to  support queer and gender diverse young people between the age of 13 to 27. This  organisation works with queer, gender diverse, takatāpui and intersex youth, their friends,  whānau and wider communities. Phone: (09) 376 4155.

✔ InsideOUT: works to give rainbow young people in NZ a sense of safety and belonging in  their schools and communities. They are a national charity providing resources, information,  workshops, consulting and support for anything concerning rainbow or LGBTQIA+ issues and  education for schools, workplaces and community organisations. Email or check out their Facebook group

✔ OUTline NZ: is a free support line with trained volunteers who can discuss topics around  sexual orientation, gender identity and diverse sex characteristics. The support line is open  every evening from 6pm until 9pm. Freephone 0800 OUTLINE (0800 688 5463).



HPV is a common virus that is passed by sexual contact and can cause cancers in males as well as  females. The HPV vaccine is funded for everyone aged 9–26 including boys and young men. The  vaccine is given as two doses to those aged 14 years and under, and three doses to those aged 15  years and older.


Sex education

Sexuality education is part of Health and Physical Education learning area of the NZ Curriculum.  Teens learn about themselves and develop knowledge and skills about acting in positive and  respectful ways with others.

Sexuality education also helps to create a safe physical and emotional environment for everybody.  Effective sexuality education takes a positive view of sexual development as a natural part of  growing up. It is vital to the overall well-being of teens. 

Parents and guardians can write to your school’s principal and ask that your teen is excluded from  any particular part of sexuality education. If you want to do this it is important that you have a good  understanding of what will be taught and why, so talk to your teen’s teacher first.

However, school does not undermine or replace the learning that you give your teen at home.  Parents are the key educators through conversation and role modelling, school learning often  provides a basis for these important conversations.

Sexual violence includes unwanted kissing and touching, ‘revenge pornography’, rape, incest, and  other sexual behaviour. It also includes behaviour that does not involve actual touching; for  example, forcing someone to watch pornography.

By understanding the laws in NZ, you are better prepared to have the conversations with your teens  before they engage in sexual activity.

  • It is illegal to have sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 16 years
  • All sexual activity must be consensual. This means sexual partners must say “yes” to sex. Sex without consent is assault 
  • If someone is too drunk or drugged to give consent, it is an offence to have sex with them

YS2019 In 2019, more than one in four females and almost one in ten males reported that they had  ever been touched in a sexual way or made to do sexual things that they did not want to do

Talk to your teen about

  • The aspects of a healthy relationship: respect, mutual understanding, trust, honesty, communication, and support
  • Emotional aspects of relationships and how they affect behaviour
  • The differences between lust, infatuation, and love
  • Describe the various types of abuse and associated warning signs.
  • Talk realistically about sex. Be sure to get your teens point of view and express all sides of your view
  • Reassure them that they can make their own choices and shouldn’t be pressured into doing anything they don’t want to do
  • Being considerate of their partners needs and feelings
  • Dealing with break-ups. First relationships are unlikely to last forever, but will they provide valuable experiences that can enhance future relationships.
  • How it can feel good to receive positive attention from others, but what effect can this have on decision making?


For free confidential, 24-hour support if your teen has concerns about any unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault, please contact:

Tautoko Mai Sexual Harm Support: Phone 0800 227 233 (0800 2B SAFE).  Tautoko Mai offer supportive listening, information and follow up face-to-face appointments. They employ counsellors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and doctors. All of their staff are highly  skilled and have ongoing professional development.

The end of a relationship can be emotionally wrenching for your teenager. However, you can use a  breakup as an opportunity to teach your teen how to deal with pain, rejection, disappointment, and  other emotions that may accompany the end of a relationship. 


Here are some tips and advice to give to your teenager when they are going through a relationship  break-up:

  • You don’t have to find the right thing to say. Just be there to listen when they need it
  • Let them vent. When we talk about what we are feeling, we move things from the emotional to the logical part of our brain, allowing us to process
  • Encourage them to talk and seek support and validation from friends. This strengthens those relationships, and shows your teenager they are not alone
  • Help them establish a routine. Having a regular routine helps regain a sense of control 
  • Encourage them to treat themselves by doing things they like. It will help them remember that they don’t need someone else to be happy and have a good time

Here are some ideas worth talking about with your teens:

  • You may not be able to say the right thing to make it all better, but you can help them to understand the nature of relationships and break ups
  • It takes time to heal. It may not feel like the feelings they are going through will go away, but they will in time.
  • Being single doesn’t mean being alone or unloved. You have more opportunities to do different things and meet new people.
  • You can and will feel love like this again. Discuss how you might have had more than one relationship in the past, and how you found that you could feel love again
  • Break ups don’t have to be angry. While it may feel painful, or like you have been betrayed, we each have the right to choose whether we want to be in a relationship.

When to get help

Getting over a breakup takes time, and that time is different for everybody. If it has been several  weeks and they are still not getting over these feelings, or they have persistent low mood and  disengagement with their life and friends, it may be time to get additional help. 

  • Talk to your family GP or encourage your teen to have a session with a counsellor.

It’s normal for young people to feel the ups-and-downs of everyday living. Sad feelings can last  several days and may cause teenagers to have trouble sleeping, eating, concentrating, or getting  motivated. If your teen talks about not wanting to go on with life, or that everyone would be better  off without them, then you need to get help immediately. 



Teen depression is a serious health problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Fortunately, it  is treatable, and you can help. Your love, guidance, and support can go a long way toward helping  your teen overcome depression. Young people are good at learning the skills to cope with problems.  These skills can help reduce the symptoms of depression and make it less likely that depression will  come back.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between normal sadness and depression. You can start by  looking at:

  • How long the emotions and behaviour have lasted – if your teen shows certain emotions like sadness, or behaviour like being overly tired for more than two weeks, it could be depression
  • How strong the emotions are and whether they’re there all the time, or come and go
  • How big an impact the emotions and behaviour are having on your teen’s schoolwork, relationships, physical health, enjoyment, or everyday activities

If left untreated, teenage depression can have serious long-term consequences. If you are worried  about your teen, it’s important to look for the symptoms of depression, and vital that you seek  professional help as early as possible.

What causes depression in teens?

Usually, there is no one single cause of depression in teenagers. Sometimes depression appears  unexpectedly, while at other times something may seem to trigger it. Often it is a combination of  factors. 

Your teenager is more likely to experience depression if they:

  • Experience a stressful event such as the break-up of parents, loss of a loved one or relationship break-up
  • Have someone in the family who has depression, such as a parent or sibling
  • Have experienced trauma, such as a significant injury or accident, or abuse
  • Are going through major life changes, such as starting a new school or going to university
  • Have significant physical illnesses
  • Have a poor daily routine or are not involved in education, training or work
  • Have been bullied or had other problems with peers
  • Use alcohol or recreational drugs

Signs and symptoms

One or two of the following signs of depression may be just part of growing up. However, if your  teenager has had several of them over the past few months and it’s affecting their everyday life,  depression is a possibility. 

Symptoms can include:

  • Being irritable and snapping at others
  • Low, sad, or depressed mood that does not go away
  • Crying easily and often
  • Lacking concentration and interest in schoolwork, and may stop wanting to go to school
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling stressed or anxious
  • Unable to sit still, but pacing and wringing their hands
  • Lacking interest in usual activities
  • Being forgetful
  • Changes in sleeping routine/ sleeping problems
  • Sitting in one place for prolonged periods, moving, responding, and talking very slowly
  • Withdrawing from usual social contact
  • Being quiet and withdrawn at home
  • Losing their appetite, or eating more resulting in weight loss or gain
  • Experiencing muscle tension and headaches
  • Experiencing unexplained physical complaints, especially stomach pains

If one or more of these signs of depression persists, parent should seek help


If you have read this and still have concerns about your teen, visit or  call the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) – 07 579 8380.

Tips – How can you help?

You can help your teenager by starting conversations if you notice ongoing changes in their mood. Even better, create a family culture of talking about feelings – don’t wait for things to be hard.

Conflict and hostility at home are known factors that can make low mood worse in young people. Work together with other family members, this will support your teen’s emotional wellbeing.

You can support their emotional wellbeing by making sure you all have a healthy lifestyle at home:  eat healthy meals together, do a form of physical exercise daily, limit screen time and make sure  they get plenty of sleep. A helpful way to do this is through role-modelling e.g., put your own phone  away at mealtimes, talk about how your day is going, make sure you get some exercise.

What causes anxiety in teens?

Usually, there is no one single cause of anxiety in teenagers. Sometimes anxiety appears  unexpectedly, while at other times something may seem to trigger it. Often it is a combination of  factors. 

Your teenager is more likely to experience anxiety if they:

  • Experience a stressful event such as the break-up of parents, loss of a loved one or relationship break-up
  • Have someone in the family who has mental health concerns, such as a parent or sibling
  • Have experienced trauma, such as a significant injury, accident, or abuse
  • Are going through major life changes, such as starting a new school, or going to university
  • Have a significant physical illness
  • Have a poor daily routine, or are not involved in education, training, or work
  • Have been bullied or had other problems with peers
  • Are LGBTQI+ or feel different in some other way
  • Use alcohol or recreational drugs

Anxious thoughts (like fear of loss of control, negative thoughts, panic attacks and thinking  something bad is going to happen) can lead to physical responses, such as dizziness, being irritable,  crying easily, sickness in stomach, sweaty and difficulty breathing. 


Youthline offer valuable advice and support for teens suffering from anxiety. Free call on 0800  376 633 or Free text on 234.

Types of anxiety

  • Separation anxiety: Worrying when away from caregivers.
  • Phobias: Scared of a specific object or situation.
  • Generalised anxiety: Constant worrying about lots of different things.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Recurrent persistent and unwanted thoughts or behaviours that need to be repeated.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Occurs after something traumatic has happened to someone


If you have read this and have concerns about your teen, visit or call  CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service – 07 579 8380.

Tips – Coping with anxiety

There are several ways you can help your teen cope with anxiety:

  • Calm your body: Deep and slow breathing, meditation, go for a walk, have a shower or bath, snuggle up in bed
  • Calm your mind: Watch some TV, play a game online, read a book, plan a future activity, write or draw in a journal
  • Support them: Encourage them to talk to someone about how they are feeling by seeking professional support and help

Having suicidal thoughts can be overwhelming and terrifying. Your teen may be feeling extremely  depressed or anxious, or they might just feel really bad and not understand why. They might be  finding the world too harsh and painful or feel like no one understands. But you can help them get  through this.


How can you be supportive?

It can be extremely hard for a teenager to tell you they are feeling suicidal. Thank them for telling  you and let them know there is help available.

  • Be gentle and compassionate – you may not understand, but try to accept them regardless
  • Listen openly. You don’t need to have all the answers. The best thing you can do is to be with them and really listen to them
  • Try to stay calm and hopeful that things can get better
  • Let them talk about their thoughts of suicide – avoiding the topic does not help. Ask them if they’ve felt this way before and what they did to cope or get through it.
  • Do not agree to keep secrets about their suicidal thoughts or plans. It’s okay to tell someone else so that you can keep them safe
  • Don’t pressure them to talk to you. They might feel more comfortable talking to someone who is not as close to them


Don’t try to handle the situation by yourself. Seek support from professionals, and from other  people they trust including family, whānau or friends, etc.


Here are some ways to help someone where there are concerns about suicide:

Help – Free text 1737 – Clinical Advisory Services is a well-known and well-respected help line.

  • Be direct. Talk openly and factually about suicide
  • Be willing to listen
  • Allow expressions of feelings
  • Accept feelings
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or feelings are good or bad
  • Don’t lecture them on the value of life
  • Get involved, be available, show interest and support
  • Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you
  • Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support and help
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available
  • Take action and remove anything of immediate risk
  • Stay with them and accompany them to get help from professionals


YS2019 16.8% of males and 24.5% of females had seriously thought about suicide in the past 12  months. 5.1% of males and 7.4% of females had attempted suicide in the past 12 months.

Spend as much as you can afford on the SAFEST vehicle possible.

Buying your teen their first car is a huge milestone. It’s so important to get the safest car you can. Look at later model cars in a price range you can afford, preferably with:

  • Airbags
  • ABS
  • Good all-round visibility
  • Tyre quality and condition

The MOST important safety feature in a car, though, sits behind the steering wheel…

Discuss with your teen what type of car is suitable and what they will be using it for. If they are  driving to and from school and around town then something smaller and more economical would  suit better. If you live in a more remote area a robust vehicle might be better. They may need  something with a bigger boot to fit sports gear in. The pair of you need to decide what type of car fits  their purpose and focus on that. It may require some compromising.

If you are buying a used car give it a check, look at the oil and water and see if they are clean. Check  to see if it has been well maintained and has a service history. Check the tyres have good tread and  everything works. Take it for a test drive and get a gauge for how it runs. It would also pay to get it  inspected by a professional. You can check the history to see if it is legitimate or has any money  owing on it.

Motor scooters or mopeds

More young people are purchasing motor scooters as an affordable means of transport. Although a  scooter/ moped does not need a W.O.F., you must register and licence your moped. It is up to  you/and your teen to:

  • make sure their moped is fitted with equipment that complies with the law
  • make sure their moped is maintained in a safe operating condition
  • wear their motorcycle helmet
  • follow the road rules.


If they don’t, they could get an infringement fine or be taken to court.

Help – Refer to the website to check your teens moped has all the correct  equipment needed to comply with the law.

Check out the Automobile Association –

Check out Trade Me for quality safety gear: jackets, pants, boots, and helmets. Many riding schools  have courses for novice scooter riders and teach essential skills and techniques.

Understand the driver licensing system 

Too many young people never progress to their full licence and are consequently apprehended for  breaching their licence conditions. It’s important that they start and complete the process at the  earliest opportunity. It is expensive, especially if they have to re-sit, so be prepared to help them.

Steps to getting a full licence

  1. Getting your Learner Licence, they must be 16 years or older. They must pass a road rules theory test to get this licence. They can take a free practice test online at The learner licence theory test is a computer-based, 35- question, multi-choice test. They will need to get at least 32 questions right to pass. While  on a learner licence: they must only drive with a full licenced supervisor (supervisor must  have had full for minimum 2 years.) The car they are driving must display learner (L) plates  front and rear. They may carry passengers if their supervisor agrees.


  1. Getting your Restricted Licence. They can apply for this licence after six months on their learner licence. To progress to this step, they’ll have to pass a practical driving test. While on a restricted licence: they can drive on their own between 6am – 10pm. They cannot carry  passengers without a supervisor (supervisor must have held a current full NZ car licence for  at least two years.)


  1. Getting their Full Licence. If they are under 25 years of age, they can apply after they have held their restricted licence for at least 18 months; or at least 12 months if they have completed an approved advanced driving skill course. To progress to a full licence, they’ll have to pass a practical test.


Tips support your teen driver

Talk to them about:

  • Their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe when they are on the roads
  • The basic skills at low speeds, move onto high-speed zones, then progress to advanced skills in tougher driving environments
  • How experience and common sense are the best teachers for any driver
  • The alcohol limit for youth under 20 years of age is ZERO. One drink is too many
  • It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving
  • Resisting the temptation to drive outside the conditions of your licence: driving with unlicensed passengers; driving outside of curfew hours; and driving after drinking. These all increase the risk of a serious crash
  • Always wear your seat belt – you and your passengers.




Students can achieve two types of standards:

  • Unit Standards are competency based
  • Achievement standards are NZ curriculum based

As students study new topics, their teachers will explain what will be assessed and how. If students  pass the assessment, the standard is achieved. 

Some standards are internally assessed by teachers during the year. Other standards are assessed  externally by NZQA at the end of the year e.g. in an exam or by a portfolio of work. Internal  assessments are used to assess skills and knowledge that cannot be tested in an exam, e.g.  speeches, research projects and performances. 

The grades that a student can earn depend on the type of standard being assessed.

For unit standards usually there are two grades: 

  • Achieved (A) for meeting the criteria
  • Not achieved (N) if a student does not meet the criteria

For achievement standards, there are four grades: 

  • Not achieved (N) if a student does not meet the criteria
  • Achieved (A) for a satisfactory performance
  • Merit (M) for very good performance
  • Excellence (E) for outstanding performance

Understanding NCEA

If you struggle to understand NCEA, you are not alone. The National Certificate of Educational  Achievement (NCEA) is the main national qualification for secondary school students in NZ. NCEAs  are recognised by employers, and used for selection by universities and polytechnics, both in NZ and  overseas.

How it works

Each year, students study a number of courses or subjects where skills and knowledge are assessed  against different standards. 

Schools use a range of internal and external assessments to measure how well students meet these  standards:

  • When a student achieves a standard, they gain credits
  • Students must achieve a certain number of credits to gain an NCEA certificate
  • There are three levels of NCEA certificates
  • In general, students work through levels 1 to 3 in years 11 to 13 at school
  • Students are recognised for high achievement at each level by gaining NCEA with Merit or NCEA with Excellence

What happens if a student doesn’t achieve a standard?

Students may be able to have further assessment opportunities for internally assessed standards  later in the year. Students can have up to one further assessment per standard per year. 

There is only one opportunity each year to achieve an externally assessed standard. If a student fails  to achieve, they may repeat the following year. Students who were sick at the time of the exams  may apply for a derived grade. 

Still confused?

If you’re not sure on anything to do with NCEA, the school will have staff who can answer any  questions.

Parent teacher interviews will give you insight into your teen’s academic progress and identify any  barriers to achievement – some of which might be your responsibility such as having a quiet study  area, ensuring regular attendance, and organising tutoring if they need extra help.  It’s important to attend parent teacher interviews, don’t let your teen talk you out of attending.

Stand-downs, suspensions, exclusions and expulsions 

Did you know? Only the Principal of the school or a person with the delegated authority of the  Board of Trustees (BOT) can stand-down or suspend a student. 

What is a stand-down?

A stand-down is when a young person is removed from school for a short period of time. This is  usually due to inappropriate behaviour – either continuous or a serious one-off incident. It can last  for up to 5 school days at a time and can’t be for more than 10 school days a year. Day one of the  stand down must be a full school day. The school can’t put any conditions on your teens return.

The point is to provide time for your teen, your family and the school to think about the problems  that have happened and to work out how to prevent them happening again.

When the principal stands your teen down, they must tell the parents immediately, give the reason,  and outline how long. You or your teen can ask for a meeting with the principal to talk about the  decision and what can be done to prevent more problems in the future. Sometimes, but not often,  your teen might be allowed to attend school for certain classes or activities even though they’ve  been stood down, but this is up to the principal to decide.

What is a suspension?

A suspension is the most serious formal disciplinary step a school can take and can lead to your teen  being kicked out of school permanently.

During suspension, your teen will be required to stay home whilst the principal investigates the  incident and writes a report about what has happened. The report will be provided to your family  and the school’s Board of Trustees.

The Board must hold a suspension meeting within 7 school days of your teen being suspended. At  the meeting, they must decide if your teen can go back to school (and on what conditions, if any), if their suspension will be extended with conditions, or if they will be kicked out of the school.

What can your teen be suspended for?

Like stand-downs, your teen can be suspended for getting into trouble for lots of smaller incidents  (like constantly being defiant), or if they do something big (like getting into a fight), or to make sure  they or someone else at school is safe. The law doesn’t give specific examples of when someone can  be suspended, and individual circumstances must be considered.

A suspension is the most serious type of discipline a principal can give a student and should only be  used as a last resort.



If you are unhappy or do not understand what is happening, you can get advice from or more information is available at

The term bullying is used to describe aggressive behaviour that is deliberate, repetitive and over a  long period of time. 

Cyberbullying is bullying (social and verbal bullying and physical threats) that uses mobile phones or  the internet in some way, for example Facebook.

The hurtful behaviour can be

  • Physical – such as hitting, kicking, tripping, shoving, taking or damaging belongings, rude hand gestures, or being made afraid of getting hurt
  • Verbal – such as saying or writing mean things, such as threats, discriminatory remarks, name calling, making fun of someone, hurtful comments, emails, texts, anonymous comments or postings online
  • Social bullying – involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships, such as spreading rumours or personal information, excluding from groups or activities, telling lies about someone, posting negative material online

A bullied teen can be hurt physically, emotionally or socially. It’s an isolating experience because the  teen’s feelings of acceptance, friendships or group inclusion are damaged. To be excluded from the group can be traumatic for teens and affect their learning, development and health. 

Bullying can affect anyone and can have devastating effects for teens, in some cases it can lead to  young people contemplating suicide. 

It can be hard to know if your teen is being bullied – bullying often happens when teachers or  parents aren’t around, and a teen being bullied often won’t tell an adult.

If your teen is being bullied, they may:

  • Seem anxious or negative about school
  • Be frightened of going to and from school, want to change their route, or ask to be driven to school
  • Be unwilling to go to school, feel ill in the mornings
  • Begin doing poorly in schoolwork
  • Be reluctant to join in certain activities
  • Regularly come home hungry (someone has taken their lunch or lunch money) or with belongings damaged or missing
  • Have bruises, cuts or scratches they can’t explain
  • Seem unhappy or insecure, with low self-esteem or self-confidence
  • Say things like ‘nobody likes me’ or ‘I haven’t got any friends’
  • Talk about wanting to hurt someone or get back at someone
  • Anxious about using their computer or mobile phone, visibly upset after using it, or suddenly avoiding it
  • Close the screen or hide their mobile when others enter the room
  • Seem nervous receiving a text message or email, or receive suspicious texts, emails or packages
  • Too frightened to say what’s wrong

YS2019 50% females, and 52% males reported being hit or hurt by others. This was most commonly  by siblings (reported by 41% of students), with 20% being hit or harmed by another young person,  13% reporting being hit or physically harmed by a parent, 5.5% being harmed by a boyfriend or  girlfriend (reported more by males) and 4% being hit or harmed by another adult

Concerned that your teen may be bullied? Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Start a conversation with them and don’t interrupt
  • Take it seriously – believe and reassure them that you will sort it out together
  • Don’t take their stuff away or put unreasonable restrictions on them
  • Make a plan together and make a commitment to make it stop – however long it takes
  • Don’t fly off the handle and take matters into your own hands – you will only make it worse for them
  • Get more involved in their world – meet their friends and go to their activities
  • Look in the mirror and ask yourself whether you could make changes that would help the situation
  • Talk to someone close whom you trust to give you support (someone who will help you to keep things in perspective)
  • Go to the school and keep going until you find the right person to help
  • Check in with your teen to see how they are doing
  • Praise your teenager so that they feel good about themselves


For more information and advice visit:

Online grooming doesn’t always have to be physical – sometimes they are trying to get nude or  nearly nude images or videos of the young person or have a sexual conversation with them.

Some things you can talk about: 

  • Discuss the potential risk of online grooming now, before something could happen
  • Explain how a person can pretend to be someone else online and why they do it
  • What to do if things start to become uncomfortable when talking to an online friend
  • What to do if someone they don’t know wants to chat or become a friend
  • Explain they should never give out personal details or information with anyone online.
  • Ensure online profiles are set to private so only family/ friends can see them
  • How consent works and that pressuring someone or feeling pressured to do something sexual is not okay
  • Look for any unusual signs or changes in behaviour

Tips if you suspect your teen is being groomed online

It’s important you contact the Police and try to capture all the evidence.

  • Record the URL address (web address)
  • Keep a copy of emails
  • Screenshot the content

Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, text, apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where  people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing  negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or  private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying  crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behaviour.

The most common places where cyberbullying occurs are:

  • Social Media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok
  • Text messaging and messaging apps on mobile or tablet devices
  • Instant messaging, direct messaging, and online chatting over the internet
  • Online forums, chat rooms, and message boards, such as Reddit
  • Email
  • Online gaming communities

1 in 5 NZ teens reported being cyber bullied. Cyberbullying is dangerous, embarrassing or hurtful  messages that can be sent to a huge number of people in a matter of seconds. It is far-reaching and  irreversible. Anonymity can make this even more dangerous, because people are much more likely  to do wrong things when there is no way of being caught. 

Text bullying

Bullying is not limited to verbal or physical bullying. 

Parents may be tempted to take away a teen’s cell phone to prevent bullying, but this deprives teens  of important social connections. It also could feel like a punishment for something that isn’t their  fault. Fear of losing their cell phones is a major reason teens don’t report text bullying. There are other ways that parents can help combat the effects of text messages from bullies:

There are applications available that allow you to bar calls that are not in your teen’s contact list, set  the phone to only receive calls from friends and family and set the times of day your teen can use  their phone for calling or accessing the web.


If someone is picking on your teen via their mobile, contact NetSafe:


Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)

Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282

If a text is from an unknown number, Police can request a trace from your phone service provider.  Phone companies can be contacted directly and there are applications available for you to download  onto the cell phone that will block certain numbers. If the author is known, it may be a case of  getting your number changed.

Social media is a major part of teen’s lives. To help them keep their online interactions safe,  productive, and positive, below is some of the most up-to-date research and guidance on social  media basics. Learn about the latest apps and websites and get tips on talking to your teens about  sharing, posting, and avoiding digital drama.

Things you need to know and understand about Facebook

Facebook is a social media site that asks you to interact with people by adding them as friends. Users  can choose to make their profile private, so that only their friends can see it, or public, which anyone  can view.

Facebook can be accessed on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device, and allows users to post and share  content in many ways.

On mobile and tablet devices, Facebook Messenger is a separate application. However, it is still part  of Facebook. Users can talk to their friends either individually or in group chats. Users can also  contact those they are not friends with, which will show as a ‘request.’ The application allows users  to exchange messages, photos, videos, stickers, and GIFs.

Anybody over the age of 13 can create a free Facebook account. You must give your date of birth  when creating an account, however there is no way to tell is someone is lying.

Facts about Facebook

Whenever a teen posts anything on Facebook, whether it’s an image or a comment, it can affect  their futures. Why? Because every time a teen posts something online, they are creating their own  personal brand online and permanent digital footprint that stays in cyberspace forever. They need to  think, “Is this post or image really representing who I am? Would I be embarrassed if a teacher or my  nana saw it?”

With just the click of a button, teenagers can become friends with other users who will have access  to their profile, comments, and pictures. Your teenager will also be able to access any information  on these users’ pages and could be subjected to inappropriate material. Parents should continuously  educate themselves on Facebook. 

Parent Friending Not Enough

Many parents think friending their teen online is enough to keep them safe and make sure they are  behaving appropriately on Facebook. However, many teens are creating two Facebook profiles, one  for their friends and one for their parents.

Some questions to ask yourselves

  • Do you know what your teenager is doing on Facebook?
  • Do you know what their security settings are?
  • Do you know who your teenager is friends with on Facebook?
  • Did you know Facebook has chat, message, and call functions?

If you answered “No” to any of these, you should sit down and discuss internet safety with your  teenager.

Tips to keep your teen safe when using Facebook

  • Log out of Facebook after using a different computer
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date
  • Don’t paste script (code) in your browser address bar
  • Use browser add-ons like Web of Trust and Firefox’s NoScript to keep your account from being hijacked
  • Beware of weird posts from anyone – even friends. If it looks like something your friend wouldn’t say, don’t click it – scammers hack accounts to send links from them


Instagram is a popular, free social networking app that lets users post photos and videos, follow  celebrities and friends, and send direct messages (DMs.) It’s owned by Facebook but has a photo forward format.


Snapchat is a popular messaging app that lets users exchange pictures and videos (snaps) that  disappear after they are viewed. The essential function is to take a picture or video, add filters,  lenses or other effects and share them with friends.


TikTok is a video sharing social network service used to create a variety of short videos that have a  duration of 15 seconds to 1 minute. It uses an algorithm to show videos that are popular and videos that are similar to videos that have been viewed before by the user. TikTok users with a high  following can earn money each time they post a TikTok. It is also used by social media influencers to  promote products and lifestyle tips. 


Twitter is an American ‘microblogging’ and social networking service in which users post and interact  with messages known as “tweets.” Twitter uses a hashtag function which enables users to find  tweets and posts using a specific hashtag they wish to engage with. Registered users can post, like,  and retweet posts, but unregistered users can only read them. 

How do I monitor the use of social media apps?

The biggest challenge for parents is being concerned on what content their teenagers are engaging  in on social media platforms. There is no way to see your teen’s activity in the apps. If you follow  them, only your teens posts will be visible, not posts or accounts they are interacting with online. 

Open a conversation with your teen around privacy settings. Most applications offer some form of  security for its users. Ensure your teen is aware of the dangers of sharing posts online and have a  discussion with them on ways they can keep themselves and their privacy safe. Many apps allow  users to make their account private so that only approved followers can view their content. 

Discuss when and how often you’ll check in on how they’re using it and how they’re feeling about it.  Explain that you understand that social media is important to them, and, at the same time, your role  is to protect them. Don’t forget to ask your teen to show you some of their posts or posts of people they follow and some of the cool features they like in the app. That’ll make it a little less scary for  you—and send them the message that you’re on the same team.

Tips to keep your teen safe when using social media

  • You can sit down and go through the app and its settings with them
  • Note your concerns, lay out the expectations and potential consequences
  • Talk through whatever controls you might use (including spot checks)
  • Set boundaries around when, where, how, and whom they can communicate with

With such a vast variety of information and images found online, the internet has opened up a  whole new set of topics for parents to discuss with their teen, including that porn is available  anytime, anywhere from any device including a cell phone.

You could start a conversation by talking about something you and your teen have seen in a movie,  TV show, YouTube video and so on. Or you could ask your teen some questions. For example:

  • Have you heard people talking about pornography? What did they say?
  • Do you know people who look at pornography?
  • Have you ever seen pornography?
  • Have you seen it when you were with friends?
  • Do you have any questions about things you’ve seen or heard?

It’s important to listen and be open to what your teen has to say. If your teen has questions, it’s best  to answer them briefly and honestly. If you don’t know the answers, it’s OK to say so. You can tell  your teen you’ll think about it and get back to them.

Teenagers who look at pornography regularly might develop unhealthy views about women, sex and  sexual performance. These views can make it harder for them to develop respectful and enjoyable  sexual relationships.

It’s important for your teen to know that fulfilling relationships are about emotional closeness and  trust as well as sex. You can help your teen understand this by talking about what respectful  relationships look and feel like.

Research in this area indicates that around 75 to 90% of teens are exposed to online pornography  before the age of 18 years. 

Young people are naturally curious about sex and relationships. They might look at pornography for  sexual arousal, out of curiosity, or to find out more about sex. If it is for educational purposes, you  don’t need to be overly alarmed.

Both boys and girls watch pornography with their friends. This might be to build closer bonds with  friends, to boost social status, or to encourage someone they like to have sex with them.

Often boys suggest looking at pornography, rather than girls. Also, boys are more likely to look for  pornography and view it on their own.

If your teen is frequently and addicitively viewing pornography, be aware of the dangers. These  dangers include unwanted sexual solicitation, “sexting,” compulsive behaviour, and exposure to  illegal images such as child pornography.


Check out this website for more advice for parents on pornography.

Here are some tips to help the discussion on sexting:

  • Discuss the consequences of taking, sending, or forwarding a sexual picture. You can get kicked from a sports teams, face humiliation, lose educational or employment opportunities, or face an investigation – possibly being charged with pornography
  • Never take photos of yourself that you wouldn’t want everyone – your classmates, teachers, family, friends, and employer – to see
  • Before hitting send, remember that you can’t control where this image may travel
  • If you forward a sexual image of someone without their consent, you are violating trust and exposing them to harm, and could possibly face legal consequences if an investigation occurs
  • If anyone pressures you to send a sexual photo, don’t give in. Talk to an adult you trust.

What can you do if your teen has images that have been shared?

If inappropriate images or video of your teen have been shared without their consent, there are  things that you can do:

  • Screenshot the content if possible and make a record of where the content is (capture any URLs if you can)
  • Report the content to the platform (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat, PornHub) it is on and request the content is removed
  • Report the profile or account of the person who shared your content to the platform it was shared on
  • Contact Netsafe to find out what other options are available to you


Gaming is no longer confined to consoles and computers – billions of people play on mobiles  worldwide. If you are concerned about your teens growing obsession they have with online games,  there are more benefits to gaming than you think.

Some games help to develop and hone skills like communication, teamwork, collaboration, strategy, and hand-eye coordination. When you talk to your teen about gaming, try to understand what it is  that they like about playing. This will help your understanding and help them to feel like you care  about something that is important to them.

Things your teen might like about gaming

  • The challenge of coming up with a strategy to win
  • Playing with others in a team environment
  • Talking and communicating with other players
  • A sense of accomplishment after winning
  • The creativity and imagination of playing in an online world
  • The autonomy and independence to accomplish goals
  • Being good at something and seeing themselves improve over time


For many teens, playing games is downtime. Are they still functioning family members? Are they still  progressing ok at school? Do they have other interests and activities? Do they have a good group of  friends? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then relax. 

If you still have concerns that your teen’s screen-time is having a detrimental effect here are some  tips to manage this: 

  • Set gaming limits – when, how long and until what time
  • Monitor the games they play. Check the content for violence and remember that sometimes the bad content may not emerge until they reach a higher level
  • Read reviews on the internet before you buy them or allow them to buy them. Encourage them to play games that are educational as well as fun
  • Encourage your teens to choose games that can be played with friends. This helps to prevent social isolation
  • Evaluate games by looking at the kind of skills they require. Do they involve problem-solving, strategy development and multitasking?


To ensure a healthy media diet, experts suggest developing a family media plan:  • Enforce consistent rules about screen-time from the start 

  • Keep all screens and Internet out of the bedroom
  • Impose mealtime restrictions and bedtime curfews for everyone’s devices
  • Watch or explore media content with teens


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