Youthlaw calls for protections from cyber-bullying

Youthlaw has advocated for the interests of young people in relation to proposed cyber-bullying laws and policies in the Department of Communications’ Discussion Paper “Enhancing Online Safety for Children”.

We support the establishment of a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner, development of an effective complaints system to remove harmful material from social media sites quickly and securing these protections with federal legislation.

While Youthlaw supports a new cyber-bullying specific criminal offence, we are concerned that the proposed penalties could have unintended and unfair consequences for young people.

Youthlaw believes any cyber-bullying specific offence should be available for all victims of cyber-bullying (not just under 18 year olds). In relation to young offenders, the proposed penalty of a fine is overly punitive and out of line with existing penalties in the Children’s Court and not an effective deterrent for young people. Instead, we propose an educative and prevention-focused cyber-bullying diversion program that reinforces the harmful effects of cyber-bullying and the responsibilities of young people when using social media.

Read more: Youthlaw submission – Online Safety for Children Discussion Paper 2014