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What this video says about bullying.

If you haven’t yet seen the video of the awful bullying incident in an Australian playground this week, take a look at this (warning: it’s distressing).

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Apparently, the larger boy has been a victim of physical and verbal bullying for more than a year. In this video, he cracks and lashes out at his attacker. As a result, both boys were suspended from school for four days and the video has gone viral.

But here’s what disturbs me most: the giggling kid who filmed the incident and then uploaded it. No doubt, he is a hero among his friends because there is no greater social kudos than being the source of a viral video. What you spread online via your Facebook page equates to status.

And bullying is not just about the abuser, it’s also about the by-standers, those who do nothing, say nothing or, in cases like this, encourage the perpetrator to go further.

The South Australian Government is looking to introduce laws against cyber-bullying, just like they have in seven US states including New York.

From Adelaide Now :

“The Government wants to attack this disgusting fad of thugs engineering and filming violent and humiliating acts, and posting the images to websites,” Attorney General Mr John Rau told The Advertiser. “That behaviour is unacceptable.”

The laws, which he hoped to introduce into Parliament before the end of the year, follow several incidents in the past year, including one at Craigmore High School where an assault on a student was posted on the internet.

Mr Rau said the proposed legislation would be the first of its kind in Australia.

No other Australian state has legislation specifically aimed at this type of cyber bullying, while overseas legislation is in place in the US and France.

At least seven American states, including New York, Missouri, Rhode Island and Maryland, have laws penalising cyber bullying, while several cities have passed ordinances making online harassment a misdemeanour.

Mr Rau said the penalties involved in the new laws would range from fines to imprisonment for repeat offenders.

The laws will make it an offence to knowingly take or publish humiliating, demeaning or degrading images of another person without their consent.

Mr Rau said this could also involve images of people, originally taken with their consent, but then later used in a humiliating or nasty way – such as after a relationship had broken up. “A decade ago, we had in the electronic media five broadcasters who were subject to various disciplinary codes,” he said. “We now have thousands or millions of people capable of creating a broadcast without any control at all – that is everybody who has a mobile phone.”

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Mr Rau said the legislation was not aimed at the platform on which the offending material was published, such as Facebook and YouTube or news organisations.

“This behaviour is so disturbing and potentially damaging to the victims that I believe the creators of these images should be subject to a jail sentence,” he said. “The Government wants to make it very clear that if a person participates in any way in an act of this sort, then the consequences will be severe.

“It is not intended to impinge on the activities of the platform involved or legitimate news organisations.”

Already a facebook page with over 16 000 fans has been created

Mr Rau said the onus would be on the person charged to prove they had a legitimate purpose for capturing the images, other than humiliating, degrading or demeaning the victim.

He said the new laws would cover anyone deliberately filming and publishing the images.

“If you knowingly allow someone to use your computer or phone to upload the images, you would be covered by the laws,” Mr Rau said. “If you knowingly participate in someone’s humiliation – while someone else films it – you could also find yourself charged with a serious offence.” Mr Rau said there would soon be a discussion paper on the proposed laws, followed by a six-week discussion period. “I hope to have legislation … passed before the end of the year.”

I know that any time the words “legislation” and “internet” are used in the same sentence, people freak out. But it’s time. I also read today that the St Kilda schoolgirl is threatening to post more videos and photos of football players. ENOUGH. People need to understand that posting images and videos of other people that are taken (or stolen) without their permission is unacceptable.

Parents need to start explaining this to children. We need to start broadening our definition of what bullying means so that the children watching that shocking incident in the playground wouldn’t have just stood around watching and the kid who filmed it and then uploaded it to share with the world – further distressing the victim – would have thought twice.

Do you think it’s time the law addressed the issue of bullying and cyber harassment? What else would you call publishing demeaning photos or videos of people without their consent?

*If you are commenting please do not use the real names of the boys in the video.*