Legal minds bid for illegal bullying
Serious cases of bullying, including cyber bullying, should be prosecuted under the criminal code, experts say.
Tasmania's Law Reform Institute has issued a range of recommendations in response to community concern about a teenager’s suicide.
The report’s 15 recommendations include creating a new criminal offence for serious bullying.
It proposes extending offence of stalking to include social exclusion, name-calling, cyber harassment and teasing.
The lawyers also want mediation to be offered to victims, and for the jurisdiction of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to be expanded to deal with complaints of bullying.
The institute says legislation should be introduced to ensure schools take on robust anti-bullying policies.
Law Reform Institute director Terese Henning says the traditional understanding of bullying is dangerously misconceived.
“Bullying can encompass an extremely wide range of behaviours, including social exclusion, name-calling, cyber harassment, gesturing, physical contact, the spreading of rumours, teasing, publishing materials relating to the victim and masquerading as the victim online,” she said.
“It can permeate almost any social environment, and can be perpetrated or experienced by anyone.
“The same bullying behaviour that has little or no effect on one individual may be incredibly damaging to another.”
The full list of recommendations is available in PDF form, here.