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Australian Cyberbullying Tragedy Leads To Parents Calling For New Online Harassment Laws

teen cyberbullying

Libby's family have said the tragedy followed years of cyberbullying on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. If you are affected by online abuse, follow the links throughout this article to our various support services.

The heartbroken parents of young suicide victim, Libby Bell, have vowed to campaign for new laws in Australia to deal with online bullies. Thirteen-year-old Libby took her own life on August 28th following what her family described as years of online bullying on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Speaking in the wake of Libby’s death, South Australian Police Commissioner, Grant Stevens told reporters that State Government should consider strengthening legislation to make it easier to prosecute online bullies.

Libby, a dedicated lifeguard trainee had recently been named as ‘Junior Life Saver of The Year’ by the Moana Surf Life Saving Club. Devastated members and staff at the club spoke of their shock over the tragic suicide. Clare Harris, a chief executive for South Australian Surf Life Saving told reporters that – “Staff and volunteers stand with her family, friends and our members as we pull together to support each other.”

Friends and family spoke of “a campaign of cyberbullying and physical abuse from peers” against Libby, including one incident that involved physical bullying at a fast food restaurant that was filmed on mobile devices by onlookers. Libby’s parents are now supporting moves to introduce a new law similar to those brought in by other states including Victoria where Internet bullies can now face up to 10 years in prison. “Brodie’s Law” was brought into effect in 2011 in the state of Victoria following the suicide of waitress Brodie Panlock, who suffered physical and mental abuse from co-workers.

“This is another tragic reminder that bullying and abuse on social media can have devastating consequences. Although tragically too late for Libby, her family and the many others around the world, legislation is starting to be changed to recognize the seriousness of this kind of bullying and abuse – change that is being welcomed by parents, schools and the growing numbers of victims around the world.”

Dan Raisbeck, Co-Founder, The Cybersmile Foundation

As concerns continue to rise regarding young people and online bullying in Australian schools, Western Australian education authorities revealed pupil suspension figures under a newly introduced category of ‘e-breaches’. The alarming figures show that in twelve months over two thousand pupils had been handed suspensions under the new rule, including incidents of spreading online hate, filming bullying incidents and abuse through social media.

If you are affected by online abuse we can help! Visit our Cyberbullying Help Center or check out our Total Access Support service to find out the best way for us to help you with your particular problem. For further information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the following suggestions.

What are your thoughts about current legislation surrounding cyberbullying and online abuse? Tweet us @CybersmileHQ.