Use The Law To Stop Cyber Bullies
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 laws.
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.