‘Dolly’s Law’ Could See Cyberbullies Jailed For Five Years
A young Northern Territory girl who took her own life after suffering relentless cyberbullying has inspired the call for tougher laws in NSW to combat cyberbullying and online trolls.
14-year-old Dolly Everett tragically committed suicide earlier this year after suffering ongoing bullying online. The proposed amendments to NSW laws would allow police to seek apprehended violence orders (AVOs) in response to serious cyberbullying.
“Modern technology requires modern laws,” said state Attorney-General Mark Speakman to reporters in Sydney. “This is not about protecting people’s injured feelings. This is about protecting people against potentially devastating psychological and tragic consequences.”
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller added that new technology has turned bullying on it’s head, allowing people to harass and abuse others 24/7 using computers and smartphones.
“These changes give NSW Police the power to attack these offenders back in their homes,” he said. “We [will] have the power to arrest them and also take out apprehended violence orders that include this type of cyberbullying.”
The state government is attempting to change the Crimes Act to make it clear that online attacks can lead to stalking and intimidation. The new laws would see tougher penalties for the offence, a five-year maximum jail sentence as opposed to three years.
The attorney-general has said that the NSW changes will cover juveniles but that it’s likely children’s courts will place young offenders into diversionary programs instead of prisons.
The NSW opposition is said to back the changes, however, Labor leader Luke Foley has said that the focus should be on prevention not just punishment.
“There ought to be a blanket ban on smartphones and watches for primary school children,” he told reporters. “For high school children…there should be some very severe restrictions.”
Domestic Violence NSW chief executive Moo Baulch has said that this new approach to cyberbullying will send offenders a clear message.
“We know up to 98 percent of victims of family and domestic violence have experience online abuse - it’s a devastating crime that follows people into their homes,” she said. “It can feel almost inescapable when you’re being stalked, bullied and harassed online.”