Moves to stamp out cyber-bullying
Wed, 15 Aug 2012 4:42p.m.
By Emma Jolliff
Cyber-bullying is set to become illegal under changes proposed by the Law Commission.
It says Britain had such laws 20 years ago, and New Zealand has been slow to catch up.
A tribunal would have powers to identify anonymous bullies and force people to remove offensive material from the internet.
Students from Tawa Intermediate, who were making a submission at Parliament on improving digital learning, say cyber-bullying is more pervasive than being bullied in person.
"When people get bullied at school they go home and they go on the internet and they get bullied more, so they can never escape," says Lachlan Patterson.
But it's not just a school problem. Netsafe receives 75 complaints about bullying a month, half of those from adults.
The Law Commission is recommending a new offence under the Summary Offences Act.
"You're required to show it was grossly offensive, not just a bit annoying, that the person intended to hurt or must have known it would," says former law commissioner John Burrows.
Mr Burrows says bullying examples the commission has seen would make your hair stand on end.
"People being threatened, accompanied by mutilated dead bodies… a young woman being violated and pictures being spread around, forcing her to leave the school."
The commission also wants an agency, in this case Netsafe, to be given statutory powers and funding to resolve bullying complaints; a new communications tribunal, where a judge can order offensive posts to be taken down and reveal the identity of anonymous offenders; legal requirements for schools to help combat bullying; and for it to be a crime to encourage suicide.
"There is a law about inciting suicide now, but it's only a crime if the person does the suicide or attempts to," says Mr Burrows. "We think that's a bit late."
The Government will determine penalties, but the commission says some similar offences carry penalties of three months in prison.
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31/08/2012 1:32:40 a.m.
Wow, Dan, I'd hate to cite Godwin's Law in the case of your comment.
25/08/2012 12:12:48 p.m.
God this country has become such a pathetic nanny state. Bullying is part of the natural process of life, it sorts the weak from the strong and forces the weak to become strong, natural selection. If we change it then we will be left with future generations of limp wristed crybabys.
17/08/2012 1:32:56 p.m.
Maybe i can bring a case of bullying Regards Paula Bennett and her attacks on the privacy of those on a benefit. she might do this to the wrong person with mental health issues and they committ Suicide.
16/08/2012 9:34:41 a.m.
What a crazy strange world we are creating for ourselves! Has anyone defined "Grossly Offensive" as I am sure it will differ from person to person. There are just so many loop holes here not to mention bullies routing there messages via other IP addresses. What if they use your IP address and you are the one targeted by Police? How do they monitor internet cafes? What if they say their PC was hijacked and they did not send it? What if they use the victims IP address to cause them more problems? I hope it works but see other issues arising? We always look to force people to do the right thing but never look to Teach them the right way.
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