National | Homeless

Videos mocking homeless 'disrespectful'

A Nelson advocate for rough sleepers has spoken out about students uploading videos of vulnerable people to the social media platform TikTok.  Source / TikTok

By Amy Ridout, Stuff

An advocate has condemned TikTok videos poking fun at Nelson’s vulnerable people.

A handful of videos uploaded onto social media platform TikTok show teenagers approaching people from Nelson’s rough sleeper community.

In one, a 76-year-old man is asked about his behaviour towards “young mums”. In others, the subjects of the videos are agitated, with one man snapping “don’t annoy me” at the person filming him.

In another video, the questions insinuated a man was a “meth head”, said Jackie Galland, who runs community dinner Giving Aroha and advocates for the community. “It’s totally disrespectful”.

When Galland first saw the videos in October, she contacted the colleges where she believed the students attended. The videos were removed. However, recently, new videos appeared on TikTok.

Galland believed there were just a couple of students behind the videos. However, they had been viewed and shared many times.

“It seems to be a continuing issue, the kids don’t have any fear of doing what they’re doing,” she said.

The 76-year-old man who featured in several videos lived a “simple life”, Galland said.

Jackie Galland said the videos were not only disrespectful, but were putting the teens making them at risk. Alden Williams / Stuff

“And here he is being portrayed as a sex offender.”

She was also concerned for the safety of the teens, who were antagonising people with complex needs, and in some cases, addictions.

“Sometimes they can be unpredictable,” she said. “If someone chooses to take offence, they can really hurt these kids.”

Nelson City councillor Matty Anderson, who volunteers with the rough sleeper community, was also concerned about the videos, and had contacted the schools and a parent involved.

“Good discussions” came out of his initial contact, he said. However, with more videos appearing, he planned to follow up with the schools.

Like Galland, Anderson called the videos “massively disrespectful”.

People on the street were often vulnerable, with complex needs, he said.

While many saw them as outsiders, “these are our kaumatua”, he said. “It’s not something you would do to other elders.”