Schoolyard bullying has always existed, but with advances in technology, information that might once have been scribbled on a piece of paper and passed around the classroom can now be circulated to a global audience within seconds.
Cyberbullying is a sad reality of the digital era we are living in and parents have an important role to play in educating their children on the responsible use of social media, to keep themselves – and others - safe.
The Harmful Digital Communications Act sets out ways in which people can take action when they feel they have been harmed by digital communication, from social media posts, emails, texts and pictures to blog posts, website content and phone-based apps.
It identifies 10 communications principles by which to measure harm and, under the Act, it is now a criminal offence to incite, counsel or procure a person to commit suicide, even if that person does not commit or attempt to commit suicide.
Those who feel wronged by a digital communication can raise objections with the appointed authority, Netsafe, and take further action in the District Court if they are not satisfied with the outcome.
Love it or hate it, digital interactions are here to stay. To mitigate any harm we need to be mindful of how we use them and teach our children to do the same. The Act provides an avenue for individuals, parents and the police to take action when needed and hopefully acts as a deterrent for inappropriate and hurtful conduct online.