Bullies in the modern world are not restricted to schools, gyms and other public places.
With the technological advancement and the ever-wider use of the internet, bullies found their way to social media, a place where they can take their victims 24/7.
Writing cruel comments, uploading unflattering photos or videos, creating online bashing groups or fake profiles can now easily be done on a public platform, even under the cover of anonymity, causing significant distress to the targeted person that could even lead to suicide.
However, technology and now the law can also be relied on to combat these hurtful activities.
In Italy, Law no. 71/2017 – the so-called “anti-cyberbullying law” – has been passed with outstanding majority (unanimously, with only one abstention) to protect teenagers against cyberbullying.
The legislation provides a definition of what cyberbullying is, requires schools to educate their pupils and members of the danger of such actions and to use the internet responsively, makes it illegal to slander, offend, threaten or steal the identity of a minor and furthermore provides useful tools for the victims and their parents with which they can require the data controller or the manager of the website or social media site to remove the abusive content within 48 hours.
The legislation is an unprecedented step against the fight to cyberbullying. The lawmakers dedicated the law to Carolina Picchio, a victim of cyberbullying who unfortunately committed suicide as a consequence of these actions in 2013. This tragedy also highlights the severity of such digital crimes and the need for timely psychological help for the victims.
Many children are afraid to speak up about bullying, fearing that it would only result in more bullying and would only get worse. It is important to encourage open communication and educate teenagers how to respond to it. Once we know about an offence, it is essential to document it, as keeping a screenshot or record of the act can be of major help if the case proceeds to court. For this purpose, it is important to ask legal advice in order to collect evidences that could be used in a judicial trial.
Psychological and legal assistance can help the victim to get out of the situation with the least possible harm.