Parents (especially of teenagers) should by now be well aware of the dangers posed by the Internet. Much of the focus in the media is on children being victimised – the most common concern being that children will be targeted on the Internet by sex offenders. But parents should also be aware of the legal consequences that their children could face if they use the Internet to victimise others – an unfortunately common occurrence.
Here are just some of the ways that your children could find themselves in serious legal trouble through misuse of the Internet:
- Conduct that is commonly known as “cyber bullying” is becoming more common, and is beginning to attract media attention as a result of it contributing to a significant number of youth suicides. Such conduct can lead to serious criminal charges. For example, messages sent via the Internet that that are menacing, harassing or offensive can result in your child being charged with a federal crime. Similarly, publishing offensive material about another or communicating with another person in such a way as to cause them fear may also amount to the state offence of unlawful stalking.
- “Sexting” (ie sending sexual messages, pictures or videos including via the Internet) is another issue that is quite often coming before the courts. South Australia police have reported that they are investigating three or four new “sexting” cases every week. Children engaging in “sexting” can face serious criminal charges such as charges of producing, possession and dissemination of child pornography. It appears that police are reluctant to simply issue a caution and that most such matters end up being dealt with through formal legal processes.
Parents can find information about Internet safety for children by visiting the Commonwealth Government’s CyberSmart webpage.
Dewar Legal is an Adelaide-based law firm that practices in all areas of criminal law. Please contact (08) 8311 3964 or click here to arrange a free consultation today.