In “Cyber-bully (Part 1)” we discussed modern day bullying, commonly called cyber-bullying. There are obviously ways of stopping your child from being bullied, such as approaching teachers and parents close to the source, but there are times when you will require the law to stop this behaviour.
Common law (law made by judges) provides some protection however this is an expensive often ineffective solution. Legislation against cyber-bullying is disjointed across the jurisdictions in Australia. The issue is lack of consistency as regards what constitutes harassment.
Apprehended Violence Orders can be sought to protect a person. There are two ways of this happening. Either the Police will seek the order naming you as the PINOP (person in need of protection), or you may seek the order yourself.
It would be questionable if, without more, a police officer would pursue an AVO on behalf of a victim unless charges were being laid involving threatened or actual violence. Unfortunately, if the Police will not apply on your behalf, it is then left for you to apply to the Court to have an order made.
If the defendant does not want the AVO, the Court will need to consider the available evidence to decide if the person for whom the Order is sought in fact fears violence or harassment and if those fears are based upon reasonable grounds. That is, would a person of reasonable firmness hold similar fears in those circumstances?
This is called a hearing. If this is the case, costs of legal representation to conduct the hearing, could place the protection of an AVO beyond the reach of a person needing it. The Court will usually make an Order for the unsuccessful party to pay the successful party’s legal costs but you may have difficulty recovering those monies from that person.
Unfortunately, the victims of this bullying behaviour would quite often be young students, not in a position to fund Court action. Even if funding were available, there is a view that “old school” Magistrates may be sceptical of cyber-bullying, and the fear actually felt by victims.
The Courts may be behind in accepting that a reasonable person could fear words on a screen, but there have been many submissions made recently that could see legislation attempt to clarify offensive behaviour, and move forward to keep up with the negative impacts of this modern internet phenomenon.
If you have any questions you would like answered either confidentially or via this medium, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.