Cyberbullying in Australia
Today’s technology has made it easier for us to communicate, but it has also made cyberbullying easier, faster and more widespread. If you’ve ever been taunted or harassed online, then you may have been a victim of cyberbullying, which is a crime.
Cyberbullying is a criminal offence of the digital age where individuals are targeted through the use of technology. Cyberbullies can use the internet, a mobile device or even a camera to harass, embarrass, threaten or hurt a person. The biggest concern here is that this type of bullying behaviour can easily be shared with a wide audience making it more widespread than traditional bullying.
Concerns about cyberbullying
One of the biggest problems with cyberbullying includes being unable to escape it. The messages, texts, photos or other material posted online that are intended to hurt or harass an individual becomes difficult to remove as they are shared online and can be accessed by many people.
The bully may be someone the individual knows or just as easily be someone they don’t know. Cyber bullies may also resort to spreading rumours, blocking communication, stealing passwords and identities, as well as setting up fake profiles and posting inappropriate content on an individual’s behalf.
How is cyberbullying dealt with in Australia?
There are a number of criminal laws that can apply to cyberbullies. However, since there are no specific cyberbullying offences in Australia, the offender must be deemed capable of being responsible for their own actions. This means that young offenders under 10 years of age will not be accountable for their bullying while others between 10 and 14 years of age will only be held answerable where it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt that they knew that they should not have done what they did.
Anyone above the age of 14 will be held criminally responsible.
Cyber-bullying or stalking occurs when someone engages in offensive, menacing or harassing behaviour through the use of technology. It can happen to people at any age, anytime, and often anonymously.
Examples of cyber-bullying include:
- posting hurtful messages, images or videos online
- repeatedly sending unwanted messages online
- sending abusive texts and emails
- excluding or intimidating others online
- creating fake social networking profiles or websites that are hurtful
- nasty online gossip and chat, and
- any other form of digital communication which is discriminatory, intimidating, intended to cause hurt or make someone fear for their safety.
Just like bullying in the offline world, not all online bullying is criminal. There are Australian laws which apply to serious online harassment and online bullying behaviour. Under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to use the internet, social media or a telephone to menace, harass or cause offence
Last Sunday, 200 members of the Hillbrook community gathered in the PAC to watch the P&F sponsored event: ‘Screenagers’. The documentary followed families who were at different stages in their journey with technology and addressed issues such as screen addiction, violence in video games, the pressures of social media and more.
We would appreciate some feedback on the screening, to see if it is something that will be hosted again at Hillbrook. If you joined us on Sunday, please take one minute to fill out this quick feedback form.