Cyberbullying is the use of technology to cause harm, threaten or intimidate a person. It is displayed in many forms including cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment or impersonation (either anonymous or identity theft). Learn about The Cyberbullying Law!
The term Cyberbullying is mostly used to describe bullying incidents that happen online among school children. However, cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment is the term used when addressing similar offences if practised on adults or corporations.
This has become widespread over the course of the past few years. This is mainly due to the wide range of social media networks that people use, the increase in the number of people who use the internet and the fact that bullying online can be anonymous, thus, very hard to trace.
Attention was drawn to the issue of Cyberbullying after some victims committed suicide. Researches were conducted, NGO’s were set up, online mentoring against Cyberbullying became available as well as laws to prosecute and punish the bully.
The Cyberbullying Law in The United States:
The United States is home to the Cyberbullying Research Center. The centre conducts research and helps children who are victims of Cyberbullying, their parents and teachers who are in contact with the offence. Also, the National Crime Prevention Association recognized that half of the American teens are victims of Cyberbullying, thus, starting a campaign against it. The campaign targets victims or bystanders who know the offence is happening and do nothing.
As for the Laws under which Cyberbullying is criminalized; all 50 states have it covered.
It has to be noted here that the laws mentioned are more focused on cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment. However, lately, schools have been dealing with cyberbullying by resorting to the same regulations they use when handling other forms of bullying that are common among school children.
Things in the UK and Australia are a bit different since they operate under different legal systems, neither the UK nor Australia has separate laws that address the issue of Cyberbullying, cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment separately. However, both countries worked hard and continue to work on criminalizing these offences.
There are four United Kingdom Acts (The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, The Malicious Communication Act 1998 and The Communication Act 2003) plus one Scottish common law (Breach of Peace) that include IT use in relation to bullying.
The legal definition of cyberbullying in the UK alludes to several laws. Under the Malicious Communication Act, the offence is punished by up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine.
These Acts are concerned with adult cases of cyber-harassment but it has to be noted here that the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is 12, therefore if an offence happens between school children, the Breach of Peace has it covered.
The CyberBullying Law in Australia:
According to the legal definition of cyberbullying, Cyberbullying is criminalized under a variety of Laws, including:
– Anti-Discrimination Legislation
– Common Law (e.g. for physical and/or psychological injury)
– Constructive Dismissal aspect of Industrial Relations Law
– Occupational Health & Safety Law
– Workers Compensation schemes
– Criminal Law
– The Common Wealth Criminal Code.
With Australia being a federal state, theoretically, each jurisdiction is responsible for its own definition and penalties of the offence.
When it comes to a legal definition of cyberbullying there are several examples of how Cyberbullying, cyber-stalking and cyber-harassment cases are handled under Australian Law are available.