Minister vows to deal with cyber-bullying

NZ Newswire Updated August 15, 2012, 4:00 pm

New laws to curb cyber-bullying seem certain now Justice Minister Judith Collins has told parliament about the "devastating effect" it has on young people.

She will consider all the Law Commission's recommendations on legislation covering digital communications.

"We will consider creating a new offence targeting offensive, indecent, obscene digital communications that cause harm," Ms Collins said.

"We will also consider changing existing laws to make sure provisions apply to digital communications and consider making it an offence to incite a person to commit suicide - whether or not the intended victim attempts suicide."

Ms Collins told MPs not to underestimate the seriousness of the problem.

"It has a devastating effect, it increases truancy and failure at school and creates emotional problems in many young people such as depression, self-harm and suicide."

But while Ms Collins is determined to do something about it, internet groups say the commission's recommendations are impractical.

Tech Liberty spokesman and Council for Civil Liberties member Thomas Beagle says they are a step too far and extending the government's powers to control what people can say is "worrying and confusing".

The commission also recommended a new legal requirement for schools to combat bullying.

Post-primary Teachers Union president Robin Duff says there's no way schools could do that on their current funding.

"Legislation is fine but we also need the support that comes through various agencies and certainly the government. It takes time, it takes resources."

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