Online Bullying and Harassment: An Australian Perspective

Aashish Srivastava, Janice Boey

Abstract

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has created new ways for children to harass and bully each other. It is unfathomable and somewhat ironic to see how the phenomenon of cyberbullying has affected our society and indeed most disturbing to hear cases of teenagers committing suicide or being severely emotionally scarred through the misuse of the latest communication tools that were designed to improve the quality of our lives. Unfortunately the ICT’s very nature of being always-on, accessible-from-anywhere, and often anonymous means of communication makes it difficult to regulate what children say or do to each other. This paper attempts to examine online bullying and harassment - also known as cyberbullying - within the Australian context. Essentially, it discusses the various issues associated with cyberbullying including definition and characteristics of cyberbullying; laws that may be applicable to such forms of harassment; consequences of an anonymous bullying act; and whether intermediaries can be held responsible for cyberbullying. The article concludes by providing a few recommendations on how to address cyberbullying.

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