It is a sign that times are changing. Victorian police are taking cyberbullying very seriously and they have made the first move to lay charges against two brothers who allegedly created a Facebook page to rate young people’s sexual performances. This is obviously humiliating, degrading and a gross invasion of privacy for the people concerned.
Some of the comments referred to youths that were under the age of 16 years old.
The young men, aged 24 and 21were interviewed by police after one of the victims saved a screen print and informed the police. Technically they will be charged with using an “online information service to publish, transmit or make available for transmission objectionable material”.
The charges come under section 57 of the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995. If found guilty they could be jailed for up to 2 years or face heavy fines.
Susan McLean cyber safety expert and Generation Next speaker, warned that “where once the victims could escape to the safety of their own home, the bully now has uninvited, unlimited access to their victim via technology. It is the invasiveness of the technology that deprives children of their privacy. This alone has been seen to have significant psychological impact on a victim”.
She further supported the move by the Victorian police. Herself a former member of the Victorian police force, she said “Hopefully, it will send a very clear message that people can’t get involved in this stuff, and if they do there are consequences.”
To Facebook’s credit they closed down the web page after it had been operating for a few days and they also terminated other similar pages found by the police.
A police spokesman told the Sun Herald “People can feel they are anonymous … in the digital sphere and may act in a manner they would not consider appropriate in the ‘real world’. They need to remember (this) can have real consequences, including criminal charges.”