In an age where privacy appears to be a forgotten concept, those using social media are significantly exposed to the risk of mentally damaging harassment. With today’s youth choosing to share their day-to-day activities with an online audience, they are subject to receiving scrutiny from others, even if they are strangers.
With online abuse developing into a major issue of the modern age, it has relatively gone unpunished, creating a sense of invincibility for these perpetrators, and a feeling of helplessness for victims within these online environments.
However, in a recent case heard in the Downing Centre Local Court, a young man was found guilty of “using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence”, based on a series of derogatory comments towards a young woman on Facebook. Magistrate William Pearce chose to create an analogy between this incident and a game of football, where one may deal with some criticism, or a “few bumps”, but would not consent to remarks as offensive as those made in this scenario, which were likened to a “savage right hook”.
Ultimately, the offender was sentenced to a twelve (12) month good behaviour bond.
It is crucial that there is now a precedent by which young victims of online harassment know they may be protected, and that any future perpetrators are aware that consequences now exist.
If you are a young person who has suffered a form of online harassment in the past, please do not hesitate to contact our office on (02) 9728 3366.
You may also seek help at https://www.headspace.org.au/.