Cyber Bullying and the Law
What seems like fun might be illegal. Sending a certain image, writing a comment or pretending to be someone you are not, might be a criminal offence, to be dealt with by the police, not the school.
The minimum legal age of responsibility is 10. Cyber bullying could lead to prosecution under the following laws:
Malicious Communications Act 1988: An Act to make provision for the punishment of persons who send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety.
Telecommunications Act 1984 charges a person who:
(a) sends, by means of a public telecommunication system, a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
(b) sends by those means, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, a message that he knows to be false or persistently makes use for that purpose of a public telecommunication system.
He/she would be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine…or both.
Is sexting against the law?
When people talk about sexting, they usually refer to sending and receiving: naked pictures or ‘nudes’; ‘underwear shots’; sexual or ‘dirty pics’; rude text messages or videos. They can be sent from a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone you’ve met online. You might have also sent a sexual photo, video or text to someone else.
If you are under the age of 18, the law sees you as a child. Therefore, if you have any indecent images or videos of somebody who is under 18 you would technically be in possession of an indecent image of a child – even if you are the same age. This is an offence under the Protection of Children Act 1978 and the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Sending sexting photos or videos: If you are under 18 and you send, upload or forward indecent images or videos onto friends or boyfriends/girlfriends, this would also be breaking the law, even if they are photos of yourself (“selfies”).