back to article Anti-bullying charity demands more laws on cyber-bullying

Today is the last day of National Anti-Bullying Week, and UK charity BeatBullying has been talking up the need for new laws. But the organisation can't seem to pinpoint what precisely is needed, given that existing laws cover pretty much every aspect of the issue. The not-uncontroversial BeatBullying mounted an online petition …


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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov


    These "charities" have two objectives - 1) collect as much money as possible in order to finance their executives lifestyle and increase their lobbying power (which in turn helps them to collect more money) and 2) pamper the egos of the executives who feel the urge to impose something (does not matter what) upon others in order to feel better about themselves.

    So, the easiest thing to achieve both objectives is to lobby for new legislation - you can spin it as a measurable criterion of success and you don't need to *actually* do anything to support your declared cause (which is usually very difficult to do in real life anyway).

    A couple of days ago on BBC Breakfast they were promoting that "charity" and so invited parents of a girl who killed herself because of bullying:

    BBC: There is that wonderful charity organisation which fights against online bullying. We have invited parents of a girl who killed herself to illustrate how prevalent is online bullying. [to the parents] Please tell us what happened?

    Parents: Our daughter killed herself, probably by accident. She was being bullied at school and we think she might have taken an OD to attract attention, cause sympathy and maybe hoped to end the bullying that way.

    BBC: And was all this bullying happening mostly online?

    Parents: Actually, there was that one message on Bebo... But all of it really was going on at school, in person.

    BBC: .......(pregnant pause)........

    1. Anonymous Coward


      No one in authority (at any level of power nor at any stage during your life) has or will ever spend more than two seconds to give a flying fuck about a one-sided assault (some times sexual too), which is the closest I can come to a legal definition of bullying.

      All the ASBOs in the world didn't do any good for the heartbroken mother of a disabled girl when she killed them both rather than have to leave her daughter at the mercy of the state, a state that failed to take serious the calls for help in stopping the decade long harassment/bullying that she had to endure. Whether its cops or teachers, both are too busy and under too much pressure to deliver against arbitrary government targets to afford time to actual help you, so I'd be okay with getting behind a comprised cash greedy charity to affect that sort, but this group don't seem to have the wit.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They want a law because...

    ... they feel they deserve one for their ground-breaking child-saving tree-hugging world-improving double-plus good-work, of course.

    Bullying is a social problem and in all but the most extreme cases something you have to learn to stand up against yourself -- ideally with the moral support of parent and school and such, but NOT their intervention -- otherwise it Just Won't Stop.

    Therefore, proposing to come down with the legal hammer on perceived wrongdoers, isn't going to make the problem go away. It's at best going to drive it underground and make it grow more insidious. Quite contrary to what these people say they want.

    But then, if bullying was to vanish entirely overnight, they'd find themselves bereft of something to get all huffed up about. It'd make for empty salons and far too quiet tea times. Can't have that, can we?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Stand up? Yeah, but there is a problem.

      You are not allowed to take a fist to the perp's face to make him stop by liberation of teeth and limbs otherwise your whole social environment will come down hard on you while bemoaning the poor's perp's now fatally compromised future.

      You have to stay in the sheep's role. But not really.

      So, how to do?

      1. thecakeis(not)alie

        Brains over brawn.

        If you are seriously intent on doing harm to someone when you are of schoolchild age, then you apply brains - not brawn. Stress the brakes on the bully's bike almost to failure then challenge the imbecile to a race in order to prove his superiority. Introduce the blighter to insanity sauce. Spend 0.000005 seconds online and get yourself some Neat Stuff that can be added to the bully’s clothing. Just add water (sweat) and WOW the terrible stench.

        The only problem of course is that this is itself bullying. It’s using force, manipulation and violence to attempt to coerce the bully into ceasing their attacks. That never works. Like all such strategies, it leads only to ever escalating hostilities.

        If you want to deal with a bully, then you have to REALLY use your brains. Instead of cowering before their awesome might or lashing out at them you need to elevate them to your level. You need to discover the source of their insecurity (all bullies are insecure; it’s why they use such tactics to attempt to gain social acceptance.) Once you know the source of their insecurity, attempt to address it. You will find yourself able to achieve peace…even friendship in time.

        Of course, that takes time, effort and actually learning how to deal with the world. Significantly harder than lashing out and “busting in their teeth.”

  3. Alan Lewis 1

    Think of the children

    Because today is a good day to release such news, eh.

  4. Duncanmhor

    Age of Criminal Responsibility

    In Scotland, AoCR is 12, up from 8 as of 6th August 2010

  5. JasonW

    Conflating UK with it's constituent parts

    Sorry to say that the age of criminal responsibility is not uniform across the whole of the UK as the article appears to suggest. In Scotland it's currently 8 but should rise to 12 once the relevant legislation is passed by the Scottish Parliament.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Just how desperate the need is for a new law is a subject of some debate."


    "there is no doubt that the issue can be seriously debilitating, with serious consequences for mental health and personal stability"

    Good ole english politicians, engage the mouth before the brian!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      No contradiction

      Can you parse? Just because there is a problem noew NOT mean there is a need for a new law - how stupid do you have to be?

  7. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    Valiant and noble though this idea is.... is ultimately doomed to failure. As long as it is possible to remain anonymous on the internet, it is possible to troll and generally carry on like an asshole. I'm not on Facebook for various reasons but is it not possible to ignore people and delete comments?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Deleting and Blocking

      It's certainly possible, yes. But the response to that suggestion is quite often, "but why should I have to?" And where do you go from there?

      It's actually possible to ignore or shrug off quite a lot of things in life - and just about everything online. But while I agree no-one should have to restrict their own activities because of someone else's harassment, sometimes it's the simplest and least painful solution.

      But the refusal to take such basic protective steps, coupled with the hysterical over-sensitivity of the modern British to insult and 'disrespect', does make it very impractical to try to resolve these things at a sub-legislation level.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thing is

    I'm 100% certain that societies constant pampering of their children is leading directly to a more unstable society, much like when you grow up in an increadibly clean environment your imune system is worse at dealing with illness I suspect the same is true of the human psyche.

    The less you have to beat the more likely you are to be completly incapable of handling problems later in life, also the less dangerous everything seems (if an animals never met a human then it doesn't know to run like fuck becouse the human is going to see if its edible) the more likely a person is to come to harm.

    Our obsession with (extreme) safety in all forms is putting our lives (mental mostly) and our life styles at risk, as we become ever more afraid of taking risks and ever more vulnerable to those willing and capable of doing so.

    1. Galidron
      Thumb Up

      I agree

      There exist extreme cases where the authorities need to get involved, but there are a several behaviors that can draw bullying and will continue to cause problems in your adult life if you don't learn to give them up.

      I sometimes think we are becoming a culture that believes we have some sort of right not to have our feelings hurt, even accidentally. I know people who consider it bullying to be told how to do something correctly the first time they are doing it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Preaching to the choir to say this here

    but it probably deserves repeating anyway: Bullying "online" is very little different from bullying in the schoolyard once you understand that putting an internet connected computer in your bedroom is, crudely put, tantamount to making it a public space. Oh, and there's the thing about not letting your kid use "the internet" unsupervised unless you trust them to handle themselves well. If that means you need an internet course or two to make that call, so be it.

    I don't think this charity understands either of those points, and if they might, they clearly would't want to. It'd ruin their game. It'd be nice if they changed their game to do something more productive instead.

  10. Robert Moore
    Thumb Down

    Will not work.

    I was bullied through most of my school years. So I can tell you with some authority that nothing theses groups do will have any effect.

    The only thing that works is for the bullied, to grow a pair, stand up straight, look the bully straight in the eye, and break their freaking nose.

    Go ahead and ask me how I know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Like the Goth guy and his girlfriend who stood up to their bullies, one of whom is now dead the other was very closely beaten to death? (there are many other examples, this is just off the top of my head.)

      I hate this "stand up to bullies, they're just cowards" thing, often they're not. Often they're hard cases who take pleasure out of picking on weaker individuals, especially when they have backup. I was also bullied as a teenager, because a local hard-nut thought I was gay. I had to put up with abuse, physical and verbal, knowing that I could do nothing to defend myself because he was far harder than I. Even if he wasn't harder than me, I had (and am proud to still have) no idea how to fight someone, I would have had my head kicked in.

      1. thecakeis(not)alie

        It's worse if you're freaking huge.

        I have no idea how to fight either. I kept getting into fights however, because I was enormous. Every bully out there wanted to prove themselves and as the resident nerd and overly large individual I was a handy target.

        The problem wasn't so much not knowing how to's the size disparity. I could (and probably still can) do a stupendous amount of damage in a very short period of time to someone who is choosing to attack me. Without knowledge of how to fight properly, I really don't know how to limit the amount of damage I do whilst trying to defend myself.

        Breaking a dude’s collarbone while you are just trying to hold him in a headlock so he doesn’t keep trying to beat you up does not win you any friends. Nor does actually swinging back after ten punches or so and breaking a guy’s jaw. It makes people hate you. Worse, it brings in the cops, the principal and everyone else who immediately turn you into the “bad guy.”

        Bullies work in packs. Largely insecure packs of people who cover each other’s butts and lie like rugs when the excrement meets the rotating air circulation mechanism. If you get beat up then people look at you as the victim and say Stern Things to the bullies. If you happen to defend yourself and go overboard because you don’t remotely know your own strength then the bullies get cooed at and you get in poo. That’s the worst possible outcome because it is exactly what the bullies want: positive attention and something bad to happen to others.

        I was raised to believe “you never, ever throw the first punch…but be damned sure to throw the last.” I never honestly tried to follow that policy. From experience however, if you do so – even inadvertently – then you are in for a world of terribleness and misery. It’s sometimes better to simply get beat up than to attempt to have to wade through the prejudicess of tired, overworked figures of authority who view you as just one more thing making their lives that much more miserable.

        There is no One True Advice. Sometimes you need to stand up for yourself. Others you need to take the hit and shut the hell up. You will only ever know when faced with the situation.

        1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

          Re: Really?

          "Like the Goth guy and his girlfriend who stood up to their bullies, one of whom is now dead the other was very closely beaten to death?"

          That was not bullying - it was assault, which is a transient situation. Can happen to anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time.

          Bullying is a long-term process and the only effective method of counter-bullying is fighting back.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    And then...

    ... he and his mates gang up on you and...

  12. daftveggie
    Thumb Up

    Protection from Harassment Act 1997

    The act refered to in the article should be the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 not the Harassment Act 1997, and this act covers all of the issues which the Charity require. The questions is not the need for new laws but the need for effective policing and use of those laws. Don't make things more complicated by adding laws, keep it simple so that the police can get good at using the laws they actually have already.

  13. Alfred 2

    Hmmmm ....

    "The Reg, despite lenghty questioning, failed to find and detail of exisitng legislation that BeatBullying felt needed changing."

    Must be some march when they demonstrate:

    "What do we want!"

    "erm ... er ... ummm "

    "When do we want it!"

    "er... Now?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      a title goes here

      "...and a hard-boiled egg!"

  14. Scorchio!!
    Big Brother

    No need for legislation

    The last government wrote a law for everything it wanted to control, where existing laws would have done. The law on religious harassment is a good example. This would be an excellent example of superfluous legislation if it went through, simply because the protection from harassment act 1997 can do the job:

    It is one of the best laws of its kind, inasmuch that it pays no attention to mental states (cognitions/intentions), rather focussing on provable things, behaviours.

    As has been noted once set up charities of this sort tend to take on an existence of their own, develop interests and purposes, and they often wield an influence that is disproportionate.

    This would be very BAD legislation. Those asking for it should be made to read existing legislation, and see how very effective it has proved in cases of cyberstalking. Eejits.

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