Advance Legal Research
As the name implies Cyberbullying is a form of bullying in which a person uses electronics means to threat the others. Cyberbullying is also known as cyber harassment. Social media sites are the lead mode of such bullying. Many of researchers have seen that cyber-attacks bring many of the negative impacts to the victims and should be controlled at the initial level. A bullying activity can be identified as repetitive behavior or can be identified as an activity that intends to harm others. There are many activities happening around that can be treated as cyber bullying, however, this is to be stated that not every negative interaction on social media can be termed as cyber bullying. Research also suggests that there are interactions on social media that can lead to peer pressure and negative emotions but cannot be considered as cyber-attack because an intention to threat others do not present there. There are many types of cyber-attack such as cyber stalking and trolling.
In the current scenario, where the use of technology is no more a critical thing and is available in every other hand; cyberbullying is increasing fastly. An act of cyberbullying can disclose the personal data of a victim or can provide other harms to the same. The recent rise of mobile apps and smartphones have increased the issue. In conjunction with this, more use of the internet also helping the cyber-buyers. Cyber-attack is an offense and different nations have their different laws on the same. Prevention of such crime is a concern for the government itself and therefore there is a need to have a look at the current laws. By looking after the increasing cyberbullying issue in the society, this is to be stated that there is a need to give this offense some special attention and therefore the current scenario needs to be reviewed. In the given dissertation, the focus will be made to cybercrimes, current situation, and the needed changes.
The research is being made on the topic of cyber bullying, which is essential to understand the true impact of the same. Cyberbullying is not a topic to ignore and one needs to know about the consequences that the same can lead to a victim. After the study of the presented dissertation, one would be able to understand that why there is a need to declare the cyberbullying a separate criminal offense. In addition to this, cyberbullying has been a much-debated topic in the past few years as many of the people are affecting in a negative manner cause of the same. The lead objective behind wiring and presentation of this dissertation is to understand the seriousness of the issue of cyberbullying and to develop reasoning that what are the needs to deal with this issue even more carefully.
The main topic of the study is to check the impacts and harms of cyberbullying and requirement to declare the same a separate offence. The research question for this dissertation is to check that whether there should be a separate criminal offence of cyber bullying.
In order to prepare this dissertation, secondary data will be collected and use as resources and references. In addition to this, qualitative and quantitative both kinds of data will be used. First, focus will be made on the general concept of cyberbullying and then after the impacts of the same will be discussed. In order to provide an outline and methodology, this is to be stated that the dissertation will further include reasoning on the research question that will be followed by conclusion.
Under UK law, there is no clear definition of cyber bullying. It means the scope of the same is not clear and many of the activities come under the purview of the same. In an act of cyber bullying, a person uses the electronic mode to threaten the other. As mentioned earlier various types of cyberbullying are there. Many means and modes are there that can use for a cyber-bullying. Some of the lead modes are mentioned as below that a criminal uses for cyber-attacks.
- E-mail:- In the current commercial world, everyone uses this mode of communication. With the increasing use of e-mail, the risk of misuse of the same is also increasing. Many times, criminal sends disturbing e-mails to a person or a group of person and in such manner threaten others.
- Instant messenger:- Criminal uses this mode to send abusive or threatening messages to others and in this manner commit the offense of cyber bullying.
- Gaming:- Gaming is being a concern these days. Online gaming provides a remote platform to people from different locality to play with each other on a common platform. In gaming, the criminals use this platform to abuse and threaten others by spreading rumors about them, adding their emails to a gaming profile list and by some other modes.
- Social Networking sites:- The most dangerous platform for cyberbullying is social networking sites. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook contributes to cyberbullying as criminals post the pictures and other information of victims over there, which lead depression and other similar issues to victims.
Criminal do most of the cyberbullying by above-mentioned means. In order to understand the issue in detail, these modes were needed to study as they show cyberbullying is involved in almost every technology and therefore needs to be a separate criminal offense. Further, to understand the need behind declaring cyberbullying a separate criminal offense, the adverse impact of the same are needed to be discussed. This is to mention that cyberbullying is a very significant issue that deserves much attraction of the authorities, however the same is still not known as a criminal offense and no separate laws are there in the country (here county refers to the UK) to prevent this issue.
Cyberbullying can lead many negative results to a victim as they get the effect in many ways. Embarrassment is the most basic feeling that a victim faces out of an event of cyber bullying. A cyberbullying act affects the daily lives of the victim and makes a peaceful leaving difficult for them. In many of the cases, victims commit suicide, as they cannot find the other way to get rid out of the feeling of embarrassment.
They feel powerless: – After an incident of Cyber Bullying, victims feel unsafe. They even find unsafe themselves at their homes. It creates mental pressure on them and they started feeling helpless. In most of the cases of cyber bullying, victims remain unaware of the identity of the criminal. In such a situation, victims feel the presence of cyberbullying everywhere.
They Feel Angry: – Cause of cyber bullying, the emotion of anger increases in the victims. In addition to this, other negative emotions also get developed in victims that can lead to adverse impact on their personality.
They feel humiliated: – In most of the incidents of cyber bullying, the criminal has the intention to humiliate the victim party. When a cyber-bullying happens, the personal messages of a person can be shared with multiples and in this way, the victim feels humiliated.
They feel Dissatisfied: – In general, a criminal does cyberbullying with a person of goodwill. In such a situation, people lose their trust in themselves and started feeling unsatisfied with their performance. An act if cyberbullying reduces the confidence level of victims.
All the above-mentioned feelings are some of the results of cyberbullying act. By reviewing the same, one can get an idea that how bad and disturbing a cyber-bullying incident can prove for a person. Study of recent statistics is also important to review in order to understand the dangerous impact of a cyber-bullying activity. According to a research paper available on ‘Ditch The Label’, 3 percent of children and young people reported an attempt to commit the suicide cause of a cyber-bullying incident. In conjunction to this, 28 percent young people have reported the incident of cyberbullying on Twitter and 26 percent on Ask.fm. The statistics show that cyberbullying is increasing day by day and the same is very dangerous for people. The risk of such bullying exists more in children and young people group. Cyberbullying can happen with anyone and hence there is a requirement to consider this issue very seriously by the authorities.
What remedies are available to a victim in against of cyberbullying in the nation. To answer this query, this is to state that at present cyberbullying is not a separate criminal offense and punishments for the same is granted under other criminal rules and regulations. Neither bullying nor cyberbullying are criminal offenses specifically, however, some criminal and civil laws are there that can be used to provide protection from cyberbullying activities. Some of these acts are mentioned below:-
- The Public Order Act 1986
- The Communications Act 2003
- Obscene Publications Act 1959
- Cyberbullying in the Workplace
- The Malicious Communications Act 1988;
- The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006)
These acts provide protection in against of cyberbullying under various provisions and threats an act of cyberbullying as a criminal activity. For instance, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 states that any communication that a person sends with an intention to give anxiety or distress to others is treated as a criminal offense. Similarly, Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 states that sending an electronic message that is offensive or of a menacing, indecent or obscene character is treated as an offense. If the police get satisfied that, a person has committed any such activity under any of the above act then the same can held a person liable for an offense and victim party is entitled to ask the damages from the guilty party.
The general principle is that what is an offense offline is an offense online. Many of the people argue that there is no requirement to declare the cyberbullying a criminal offense and current laws are enough to provide the security to the victim parties. Whereas on the other side, many of the people are in favor to develop a separate law to deal with the issue of cyber bullying.
There is no one specific law on the topic of cyberbullying in the nation but as mentioned earlier there are many other laws, under which a victim of cyberbullying can grant justice. Apart from the laws and authorities, there are many anti-bullying organizations exist in the nation that helps the victims of cyber bullying. Individuals, as well as organizations, are suspected to be a victim of cyber bullying. On a daily basis, authorities are hearing case of cyber-attacks and bullying. Cyberbullying at workplace is another serious issue that creates problems for the managers and owners of a business. How much negative impacts cyberbullying brings to organizations can be understood by the fact this fact that every year UK employers spend £2bn on the investigation and litigation processes related to cyber bullying. After all these issues too, an act of cyberbullying is not a criminal offense in general. No separate provisions and laws are there in the nation to deal with this issue.
In the UK, two types of cyberbullying are well known. One is where criminal choose one or more known and identified persons as his/her target and another one is where criminal do cyberbullying in against of public at large.
In the current scenario, if a person does some wrongful act online, then he/she can be held liable under various acts. This is the reason that solicitors, as well as courts, do need to look up to several laws and legislation while considering a case of cyber bullying. Celebrity, Katie Price demanded from the government that there should be a cyber-bullying law on the name of her son, Harvey and she is suggesting a new law in the nation to be named as HARVEYS Law. Not only in the UK but worldwide, it has been noticed that anti-cyberbullying helplines are getting calls and cases of cyber bullying. Many of the people are not aware of their rights and therefore there is a much requirement to declare the cyberbullying a criminal offense.
Until unless the cyberbullying will not get a title of a criminal offense, the same would be hard to control. There are many other reasons for that there should be a spate criminal offense of cyberbullying and the same are discussed further in this literature review. Before that this to be mention that in the UK, every school is required to develop anti-bullying policies. Further, in addition to this, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 is there to protect the teachers as well as students from the activities of cyber bullying. This would not be wrong to state that there is enough protection to victims of cyberbullying under the various acts of the nation, nevertheless, there is always a scope of betterment.
In the year 2014, a child girl of 14 years named Hannah Smith committed suicide because of cyberbullying happened against her. It was a very serious issue that ended the life of an innocent child. Death is not the only issue. Apart from death, many of the children and young people have suffered from many of the physical and mental issues. Cyberbullying needs to be considered as a crime as the same proves hazardous to the victims and affect their personality in a very adverse manner.
Following are some of the reasons for that there should be a separate law for cyber bullying. Although, there are many laws, that provide justice to victim parties, yet they have certain limitations. The same are as follow:-
- The scope is not clear: – The main issue in the current scenario is that the scope of cyberbullying is not clear. In the absence of a separate legislation, no clear definition is given of cyber bullying. Whether a cyber-crime will be treated as cyberbullying or not is typical to decide.
- Unjustification:- cyberbullying is restricted under many acts, but what about those issues that are not covered by any such act. Cyberbullying can happen in many ways and therefore it is not necessary that these acts cover those ways. In such a situation, there are chances of nonjustification in those cases where none if the act covers the issue.
- The issue for victims:- People are not aware of their rights. In the lack of a separate legislation focusing on cyber bullying, people are not able to understand that whether they have become a victim of a cyber-bullying. Studies of many laws are not possible for a persona and sometimes they do contradict with each other.
- Fear of offense:- At present, cyberbullying is not a criminal offense in general and hence people do the same against others without fear. Punishments are there under civil as well criminal laws, yet the lack of separate provisions promotes such issues as criminals are aware that their act will not be counted as a criminal offense until unless an act will be applicable under which similar provisions are mentioned.
- Issues for courts:- Absences of a separate criminal offense for cyberbullying is also a hurdle for solicitors and judges as they have to look upon various legislations in order to provide justice to a victim of cyber bullying.
All the above-mentioned issues exist in current because there is no separate criminal offense for cyber bullying. To eliminate these issues from the system, there is a requirement to declare cyberbullying as a separate criminal offense.
To conclude the research question, this is to be stated that in the UK, no separate law is there to deal with the issue of cyber bullying. As discussed above, the impacts of cyberbullying are very dangerous and therefore the issue demands much attention of government and authorities. The cases of cyberbullying and harassment are increasing day by day but people are not aware of the remedies available to them. An act of cyberbullying brings serious harms to victims. In the current world of technology, cyberbullying cannot be prevented 100 percent but can be reduced upto a level by making the same a criminal offense. Taking reference of other acts is not a much practical thing to do. By making a separate criminal offense for cyber bullying, many practical issues can be resolved. Only declaring the cyberbullying as a criminal offense is not enough but in addition to the same, a separate law should also be developed.
If this would happen, then the cases related to cyberbullying will be resolved shortly. /There are many benefits of making a separate criminal offense to cyberbullying and to develop a separate law. The same will reduce the confusion of public and the number of queries to the department will also be reduced. The research question can be concluded as, yes there should be a separate criminal offense of cyberbullying as the same is a very dangerous threat to the society and deserves special attention of authorities.
Cyberbullying in the Workplace
Malicious Communications Act 1988
Obscene Publications Act 1959
The Communications Act 2003
The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006)
The Malicious Communications Act 1988
The Public Order Act 1986
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Freeman M, ‘Law and Childhood Studies: Current Legal Issues’ (OUP Oxford 2012)
Gupta M, Handbook of Research on Emerging Developments in Data Privacy (IGI Global 2014)
Hunter N, ‘Cyber Bullying’ (Raintree 2011)
Katz A, ‘Cyberbullying and E-safety: What Educators and Other Professionals Need to Know’ (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012)
Ng W, ‘New Digital Technology in Education: Conceptualizing Professional Learning for Educators’ (Springer 2015)
Quigg A M, ‘Bullying in the Arts: Vocation, Exploitation and Abuse of Power’ (CRC Press 2016)
Scaife L, ‘Handbook of Social Media and the Law’ (CRC Press 2014)
Schell B H, Online Health and Safety: From Cyberbullying to Internet Addiction: From Cyberbullying to Internet Addiction (ABC-CLIO 2016)
Smith P K , Keumjoo Kwak and Yuichi Toda, ‘School Bullying in Different Cultures’ (Cambridge University Press, 2016
 Sheri Bauman, Donna Cross and Jenny L. Walker, ‘Principles of Cyberbullying Research: Definitions, Measures, and Methodology’ (Routledge 2013)
 Wan Ng, ‘New Digital Technology in Education: Conceptualizing Professional Learning for Educators’ (Springer 2015)
 Manish Gupta, Handbook of Research on Emerging Developments in Data Privacy (IGI Global 2014) 335
 Dailymail.co.uk, ‘Young children who own a smartphone are at greater risk of bullying, and are MORE likely to pick on others’ < https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4993234/Youngsters-mobile-devices-risk-bullying.html> accessed on 05 November 2018
 Inbrief.co.uk, ‘Cyberbullying: what’s the law?’ <https://www.inbrief.co.uk/offences/cyberbullying/> accessed on 05 November 2018
 Nick Hunter, ‘Cyber Bullying’ (Raintree 2011) 16
 Blogging.com, ‘Understanding And Preventing Cyberbullying.< https://blogging.com/cyberbullying/> accessed 05 November 2018
 Sherri Gordon, ‘What Are the Effects of Cyberbullying? < https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-are-the-effects-of-cyberbullying-460558> accessed 05 November 2018
 Bullying.co.uk, ‘Effects of cyber bullying’ < https://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/effects-of-cyberbullying/> accessed 05 November 2018
 Bernadette H. Schell, Online Health and Safety: From Cyberbullying to Internet Addiction: From Cyberbullying to Internet Addiction (ABC-CLIO 2016) 92
 Adrienne Katz, ‘Cyberbullying and E-safety: What Educators and Other Professionals Need to Know’ (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012) 214
 The Public Order Act 1986
 The Communications Act 2003
 Obscene Publications Act 1959
 Cyberbullying in the Workplace
 The Malicious Communications Act 1988
 The Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA 2006)
 Malicious Communications Act 1988
 Laura Scaife, ‘Handbook of Social Media and the Law’ (CRC Press 2014) 130
 Peter K. Smith, Keumjoo Kwak and Yuichi Toda, ‘School Bullying in Different Cultures’ (Cambridge University Press, 2016)
 Anne-Marie Quigg, ‘Bullying in the Arts: Vocation, Exploitation and Abuse of Power’ (CRC Press 2016)
 Caroline Davies, ‘Hannah Smith wrote ‘vile’ posts to herself before suicide, say police’ < https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/may/06/hannah-smith-suicide-teenager-cyber-bullying-inquests> accessed 05 November 2018
 Michael Freeman, ‘Law and Childhood Studies: Current Legal Issues’ (OUP Oxford 2012) 297