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Education about existing laws is needed to reduce cyberbullying – not new laws, experts say

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It’s hard to know what to do with cyber bullies, the consequences of their actions are real and severe though.

But turning them into criminals probably isn’t advisable says a submission from a group of experts. What is required is a consolidation of approaches across the states and territories.

Presenting their submission to the Senate Inquiry on cyberbullying laws, Australian Universities Anti-bullying Research Alliance (AUARA), argued that criminalising children for cyberbullying would be counter-productive.

Specific laws to punish children and young people for cyberbullying are unnecessary and would not prevent the behavior; nor would they be feasible to police and enforce, according to AUARA, which is comprised of a group of internationally recognised experts on bullying and childhood aggression from the psychological, legal, and educational fields.

There is no need for a dedicated law, according to Professor Marilyn Campbell, a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) who recently released a book on cyberbullying. “The existing laws are adequate, just not well known in the community. Making another law will not automatically stop the behaviour,” she says.

Professor Phillip Slee, an expert in child and adolescent mental health at Flinders University, says punitive laws would lead to negative consequences for young people. “Criminalising young people and misbehaviour leads to school disengagement, academic failure and dropout, and ultimately involvement in the juvenile justice system,” he says.

The AUARA experts agree that other steps are needed to address bullying, “There needs to be harmonisation of laws across states and territories,” says Associate Professor Barbara Spears, an expert in bullying and social media at UniSA.

“We need a co-ordinated whole-of-government approach, addressing all forms of bullying, which connects the world-leading resources we have here in Australia, such as the e-Safety Commission, the National Safe Schools Framework and the evidence-based resources on the National Student Wellbeing Hub.”


18 Oct 2018 | National
60,000 regional school students to have best seat in the house  News Image

The Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) is launching ATYP On Demand, a theatre streaming platform to give remote and low SES students free access to theatre made by young people, for young people. Read More

17 Oct 2018
Tax deductions for teachers News Image

As the October 31st tax deadline is approaching, now is the time for teachers and those working in education who haven’t yet lodged to get their taxes up to date. Read More

17 Oct 2018 | National
Wakakirri announces national story dance of the year winners News Image

Big stories about big issues have been at the forefront of Wakakirri this year, themes explored included reconciliation, environmental conservation and mental health, the winners have now been announced. Read More

17 Oct 2018
New resource teaches kids about periods News Image

Period Talk is Australia’s first education module designed to get kids talking about periods, removing the taboo and embarrassment that has surrounded the subject for so long. Read More

17 Oct 2018 | Melbourne
Big Day In Jr STEAM event News Image

400 primary school students from 13 schools and 35 presenters from the science and tech industry will descend on Malvern Valley Primary School on Thursday 18th October, for the Big Day In Jr. Read More