Cyberbullying in Australia: An Overview

Cyberbullying in Australia: An Overview

There is a lot of cyberbullying taking place in Australia. In fact, it’s estimated that cyberbullying among Australian children has risen by 27% over the past year. If you’re worried about your child being cyberbullied or cyber-harassed, then read this article to find out what you can do. We’ll provide an overview of the various types of cyberbullying and how they are dealt with under law in Australia. 

What is Cyberbullying? 

Cyberbullying is cyber harassment and bullying that happens through the internet, phone or other electronic devices. It can take many forms including sending threatening messages, sharing embarrassing photos of someone else without their permission (known as “revenge porn”), posting false information about a person, or leaving hurtful text messages or comments on websites. 

In cyberbullying, there is a power imbalance that the bully has over their victim. The cyberbully can easily send hurtful messages to their targeted person without being seen and they control what information appears on social media profiles of others. Cyberbullies also use technology as another tool for harassment which makes it difficult for people who are cyberbullied to escape cyber harassment. 

The lack of physical proximity that a cyberbully has with their victim often enables them to engage in much more severe forms of abuse than bullies who live near the victim. Cyberbullies are also less likely to risk being caught by law enforcement officials and therefore may be able to operate unchecked for longer periods of time. 

Cyberbullying is cybercrime and cyberbullies are committing crimes because they use technology to harass others, which makes it illegal under Australian law.  

The Impact of Cyberbullying 

The impact of cyberbullying

Cyberbullying can cause a lot of distress for the person who is cyber-harassed. They may be upset, embarrassed or feel powerless as they are subjected to cyber harassment and bullying. 

Cyberbullies typically use technology in an attempt to hide their identity which means that cyber victims don’t know who’s stalking them online, monitoring their online activity, or cyber-bullying them. These social media crimes can also be difficult to detect because cyber harassment is not physical and often takes place on social networking sites where cyberbullies have the ability to hide their identity (e.g., by posting from an anonymous account). 

Cyberbullies may threaten their victims in order to tarnish another person’s reputation and cyber harassment can be very traumatizing. 

The impacts of cyberbullying are not limited to cyber victims themselves as cyberbullies may also use social media platforms to harass others by making negative comments about them or sharing misleading information in order to bully a person into self-harming behaviour (e.g., suicide).  

Cyberbullying in Australia 

Cyberbullying is a serious issue in Australia, with the statistics showing that approximately 4% of Australian children aged 12-17 have had difficulties due to cyberbullying. 

Cyberbullying can be seen as one of many growing issues among Australian youth today. As more and more adolescents are being bullied by peers both online or offline, it becomes increasingly difficult for adults to keep up when they’re also experiencing similar harassment at work themselves 

Australia is one of the few countries with cyberbullying laws that go beyond just protecting children and instead provide legal protections for all members of society.  

Cyberbullying Laws 

Australia is a country that has been grappling with how to best address cyberbullying. Laws have changed over the last decade and are still evolving as new forms of technology emerge. 

Australia is doing its part to stop cyberbullying in the digital age. The country passed legislation that punishes online harassers with up to three years of jail time for a first offence and five years if they commit repeat offences.  

Cyberbullies cannot hide behind anonymity or fake profiles in Australia, where those who bully others online face real-world consequences if caught breaking Australian laws on harassment, threats, and defamation. 

The Australian government has committed to investing in cyber safety measures, including cyber safety education programs for students aged 12 – 18 years old, as well as improved awareness campaigns across Australia.  

If you have been bullied or know someone who has, and you need any legal help to combat it, book an appointment today. At Bouchier Khan Lawyers, our experts from Brisbane, Toowoomba and Ipswich will guide you through the process. 

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