Cyber bullying is already a huge problem and sadly it is
growing, especially among young schoolchildren. Kids as young as
eight are telling teachers and parents that they get bullying
messages via social media.
Surveys by the University of NSW found 48 per cent of students
had experienced cyber bullying or knew someone who had. A
disturbing 37 per cent had been asked for naked or sexy photos. The
good news is that 68 per cent wouldn't do it if they knew it
was a crime and 66 per cent said knowing it was a crime made them
more confident tackling the bullies.
The first problem for parents is to know when it is happening.
When they do and they decide to do something about the cyber bully,
there are avenues in law that can be pursued.
First the law defines bullying as behavior that is meant to be
hurtful, targets a person or group of people, happens more than
once and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the victim.
Cyber bullying is bullying carried through the internet, mobile
phones and social media including SMS, emails and any social
networking site to harass or abuse someone.
It is a crime to use a phone or the internet to threaten, harass
or seriously offend somebody. Any statement or action that is
likely to cause serious anger, outrage, humiliation or disgust. The
maximum penalty is three years in jail.
Some real cases: A 20 year old man who sent threats and
hate-filled texts to his ex-girlfriend was found guilty and placed
on probation. A teenager who threatened to kill teachers and
students at his school was charged with making threats. A man who
posted a race hate video on YouTube was charged under racial hate
Cyber bullies could also come under stalking and defamation
laws. A man got a jail sentence for copying a girl's photo and
posting them on an adult site. A teenager who threatened a girl in
the US via Facebook and sent her unwanted gifts was arrested for
stalking. A man was ordered by a court to pay his ex-girlfriend
$40,000 compensation when he threatened to release sex tapes after
she sued him for invading her privacy, breaching trust and
intentionally causing her emotional distress.
There is a concern that plans by Attorney General George Brandis
to change racial vilification laws in the name of protecting free
speech will have the unintended effect of making it harder to use
the law to pursue cyber bullies.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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