How can I protect my child from being Cyber-Bullied?

Intervention Orders against Minors 

Cyber-bullying is a genuine problem in today’s schools, and it often goes beyond the teasing or mocking associated with schoolyard bullies. It is easy for an affected child to feel helpless or ostracised from an inundation of abuse and disdain. So what can be done to prevent bullying over the internet? How do you protect a child from another child? 

An Intervention Order (“IO”) is a restraining order enforced by the court, that prohibits a person from doing certain things against another and protect that person from harm. This ‘harm’ can include: 

  • Physically injure, or intend to physically injure; 
  • Cause emotional or psychological harm; 
  • Deny a person their financial, social or personal freedoms; or 
  • Damage property. 

To achieve this, an IO can prohibit a person from being physically near the protected person, near their place of residence, work or school. It can also prevent attempts to follow or stalk, or communicate via phone, email or other messaging services. 

What many do not know about IOs is that they can be placed on anyone over the age of 14 years. This includes minors. Where a child is involved, particularly where they are the offending person, the application will be heard in the Youth Court, which holds the same power as the Magistrates Court (see Section 7 of the Youth Court Act 1993 SA). It also means that parents, or another chosen guardian such as a police officer or Court-appointed counsellor, can accompany the child to make them feel more at ease. 

The application made in the Youth Court can help to protect against ‘technology-facilitated abuse’. It can help to prevent:  

  • coercive or abusive text or other messages; 
  • the use of tracking via GPS or other capable applications;  
  • publishing or sending offensive or abusive material onto the internet, or communicating or sending abuse;  
  • material regarding the protected person to other people by way of email or messaging services; or 
  • Any ‘other’ category of technology-based abuse that is presented to the Court. 

This is considered a form of ‘non-domestic abuse’ and the Court may see fit to attempt mediation, before then imposing an intervention order. 

If you are considering this course of action, make sure to keep copies or screenshots (that include a date and time) of any relevant messages, photos or emails saved to a secure location, as well as dated and timed notes of when the incidents occur. It is also helpful to be open and cooperative with any Police that may be involved in the matter. 

Cyber-bullying should not take control of your Child’s life. If you are concerned for their safety or mental well-being, please contact the police or Stanley & Co Lawyers immediately to assist you in protecting your loved ones. 

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