Penalties for sexting and cyber bullying too harsh, young people say

Dec 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Half of children surveyed in NSW said they had been bullied online or knew someone who had, and more than a third had been asked, or knew someone who had been asked, for a naked or sexy photo. However many were unaware of the serious criminal penalties that can apply to the practices.

The of 1,000 students aged between 12 and 17 and the accompanying New Laws/New Voices legal education project is the basis of a law reform research report launched today by Children's Legal Service (CLS) of Legal Aid NSW and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre (NCYLC) based at UNSW.

Students were taught about the criminal laws around sexting and cyber bullying and then asked to share their opinions on these laws and their penalties. While most young people felt that sexting and cyber bullying should be against the law, they also believed there should be a more appropriate range of responses and penalties.

Significantly, the project found that most young people believe that people under the age of 18 should never be charged with child pornography offences or placed on the sex offender register for peer-to-peer sexting.

It also found that young people are confused by the age difference in the Commonwealth and state child pornography laws (18 years v 16 years), and disconcerted that child pornography laws apply equally to consensual and non-consensual sexting, despite the vastly different levels of harm caused.

68.3% of students surveyed said that learning that online behaviours could be crimes made them less likely to engage in these behaviours, and 66.3% said that this knowledge made them feel more confident about being able to deal with these issues if confronted with them.

"The really encouraging thing about this research is that young people are eager for information and that education around , cyber bullying and the law can have a real impact on ," said NCYLC Director, Matthew Keeley.

"Young people want and need education about the laws that apply to their use of mobile phones and the internet. Most agree the issues are serious, but they also think any penalty should suit the offence and should take into account the offender's awareness of the law, offending history and the level of harm caused."

Based on the findings CLS and NCYLC have made 10 recommendations about reforming the criminal law, instituting police guidelines, providing better education and support to young people and continuing to consult with young people on the development of resources, policies and laws in this area.

"We are dealing with who are too afraid to go to police for help for fear of being charged with these very serious offences. makers need to take note," Mr Keeley said.

Explore further: Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

More information: www.law.unsw.edu.au/sites/law.… aw_reform_report.pdf
prezi.com/jiudkskuct0h/new-voicesnew-laws-report/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

States weigh relaxing penalties for teen sexting

Jun 13, 2011

(AP) -- A congressman who sends an X-rated photo of himself jeopardizes his reputation and his job. But in many states, teens caught doing the same thing can risk felony charges, jail time and being branded sexual offenders.

New Zealand mulls new cyber-bullying law

Aug 15, 2012

New Zealand said it was considering making cyber-bullying a criminal offence, amid concerns that existing laws offer inadequate protection from online harassment.

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

2 hours ago

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

3 hours ago

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

19 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Mark_Miller
1 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2012
Monitoring everything they do on the web is the key. That is the only way to know if your child is a bully or a victim himself. For those who say that kids also need privacy, there is the case of the unfortunate Amanda Todd. I watch who my son is talking to on Facebook using an app called Qustodio that allows me to view the profile pictures of accounts that he engages with. Such monitoring is for their own good. Qustodio is a nice app. Just Google for it.
VendicarD
not rated yet Dec 14, 2012
If God didn't want children to send sexually explicit pictures to each other, he wouldn't have invented cell phones and webcams.

Ask him yourself. That is what he told me.

Now toilet cams.... Those are the work of the Devil.
Mark_Miller
not rated yet Dec 18, 2012
No surprises there. I certainly don't believe that kids will take it kindly to being monitored or punished. However, they are too young to understand the ramifications of such acts. So monitoring everything they do on the web is the key. That is the only way to know if your child is a bully or a victim himself. For those who say that kids also need privacy, there is the case of the unfortunate Amanda Todd. I watch who my son is talking to on Facebook using an app called Qustodio that allows me to view the profile pictures of accounts that he engages with. Qustodio is a nice app. Just Google for it.