New laws may help bullying crackdown

A SPECIFIC law to crackdown on cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking, including confiscating phones and computers, could be introduced to the Police Offences Act, if Attorney-General Brian Wightman gets his way.

Mr Wightman released the 2014 Anti-Bullying Discussion Paper yesterday, which he asked the Department of Justice to prepare last year following the death of a Hobart school girl, and there are two options for the government to consider.

The first is for the state's Criminal Code laws around cyber-bullying to stay the same, while the other is to introduce a summary offence to strengthen current laws.

Some forms of bullying are already covered under the Criminal Code, but are not specifically referred to as cyber-bullying or cyber- stalking.

Mr Wightman said he would like to introduce specific laws to crackdown on young people engaged in bullying and introduce new offences, such as cyber-bullying and cyber- stalking, in to the Police Offences Act.

Mr Wightman said he would also explore introducing a set of penalties for these offences ranging from compulsory fines to the confiscation of phones and computers.

"I strongly believe in a holistic approach to dealing with issues, and schools already have policies and processes promoting socially acceptable and positive behaviour to their students," he said.

The review of the Criminal Code and the Anti-Bullying Discussion Paper follows recent campaigns for specific anti-bullying laws in the state, after the death of Hobart school girl Chloe Fergusson.

Chloe, 15, committed suicide last year after being a victim of severe physical, verbal, mental and cyber bullying for three years.

•If you need help or counselling contact Lifelink Samaritans 1300 364 566, Lifeline 131 114, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800, MensLine Australia 1300 789 978, or the StandBy Response Service 24-hour number on 0408 133 884, beyondblue 1300 224 636.

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