In light of the recent suicide by well-known Australian Charlotte Dawson, there are calls for the creation of tougher laws against cyber bullying, namely Charlotte’s Law. The concern is that while Charlotte’s Law may close some gaps in current legislation, Duxbury (2014) indicates that there may still be many gaps and behaviours which will not be criminalised.
Duxbury’s article points out the benefits of social media, the freedom of speech, the ability to promote interesting and in-depth discussions, the ability to create and maintain personal relationships. She also points out that it is the not the application or website that is responsible for the behaviour of its users. For web masters to control or monitor posts may detract from the spontaneous nature of the interactions users want. Similarly, by banning anonymous posts, those with legitimate reasons for hiding their identity would be excluded from the conversation.
Duxbury believes that in the end, it comes back to personal responsibility and good manner. In her view, a lack of empathy is shown by abrupt texts, ritual humiliation, celebrity bashing and “shares” of denigrating material. It is up to each of us to set the standard for acceptable personal behaviour on-line. Don’t post or pass on anything that you would not say to someone’s face. If someone you know posts something you see as harmful or unacceptable, call them on it.
As parents and educations, it is our responsibility to teach our children the responsibilities of being a member of today’s digital society, and ensure they set themselves a high standard of behaviour. Further, we should encourage them to stand up to bullies, both on their own behalf and on behalf of others they see being victimised. Yes, this is a tough one, but only by standing up to bullies can we indicate that their behaviour is not acceptable. As Duxbury says “How would I feel if this was about me?”
Duxbury, J. (6 March 2014). Cyber bullying: easy to perpetrate, hard to stop. Retrieved from http://www.theage.com.au/comment/cyber-bullying-easy-to-perpetrate-hard-to-stop-20140305-347ck.html