The Senate will investigate cyberbullying laws after an inquiry was instigated by Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore following the tragic death of South Australian 13-year-old Libby Bell.
Senator Kakoschke-Moore moved for an inquiry after meeting roadblocks in her own recent investigations into the adequacy of cyberbullying laws and the online broadcasting of violence and abuse.
She acknowledged the work of the e-Safety Commissioner and organisations like the Carly Ryan Foundation in this space, which requires much more than a legislative response, but said that “our laws need to keep pace with technology”.
“This inquiry is an opportunity to explore whether the law adequately captures cyberbullying and whether the penalties imposed are appropriate, particularly where children are involved and where the victim has taken their own life,” Senator Kakoschke-Moore said.
“We have seen incidents recently of school children filming abuse and broadcasting it online, which causes additional harm to the victim and to those who view it.
“In one recent incident, school children allegedly used social media to organise a mob to attack other students which was then allegedly streamed live.
“And this week the heartbroken parents of Libby Bell spoke out about an alleged campaign of cyberbullying on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, as well as physical abuse, in the lead up to her taking her own life.
“The suicide of a 13-year-old is unfathomable and if there is anything we as lawmakers can do to help prevent such a tragedy, we should do it.
“Of course stronger laws are not the only answer and the inquiry will also consider other measures used to combat cyberbullying.
“As a community, we need to reject and condemn bullying in all its forms.”
The Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee website will soon contain details on how to make a submission.