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Ireland 'should consider laws that would jail cyber bullies'

A Fine Gael TD has suggested Ireland adopt proposed New Zealand laws, which would make it an offence to incite someone to take their own life.

Image: Bullied child via Shutterstock

IRELAND SHOULD CONSIDER adopting anti-cyber bullying laws from New Zealand, which could see some cyber bullies being jailed, a Fine Gael TD has suggested.

The Limerick TD and member of the Oireachtas Communications Committee, Patrick O’Donovan, has called on the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, to consider the new legislation that is being adopted in New Zealand to combat cyber bullying.

The new legislation is being introduced in parliament in New Zealand, and would see cyber bullies who use “a communications device to cause harm” facing penalties up to three months in jail or a fine, as the New Zealand Herald explained.

Also included in the laws, which are being fast-tracked by the country’s Justice Minister Judith Collins, will be the offence of inciting someone to take their own life.

“The issue of cyber bullying has received considerable attention here over the last year or so, due in no small part to the tragic deaths by suicide of several young people and teenagers,” said Deputy O’Donovan.

This, of course, isn’t just an Irish problem, it’s an international one, and I think the new law being adopted in New Zealand should be given serious consideration here.

He pointed out that the legislation is being brought forward by Minister Collins in a bid to crack down on bullying via social networking, email, mobile phones and websites.

The Deputy has asked Minister Shatter for his views on the matter and he will also be calling on the Oireachtas Communications Committee to consider the issue.

The Committee completed a report on cyber bullying earlier this year, and I believe we must continue to pursue the matter. As more and more of our interactions take place online, we must look at ways to protect young people in particular from harassment and abuse.

The Royal College of Surgeons recently announced that it has opened a cyber-psychology research centre to look at child safety online, cyberbullying and human trafficking.

Read: New research centre to focus on trafficking, child safety and cyberbullying>

Read: Parents to receive anti-bullying training under new scheme>

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