The nastiness just won’t stop. He started sending explicit images and messages on social media — so you blocked him. But then, somehow, he got ahold of your cell phone number and your email and he just keeps sending stuff.
These types of behaviours are considered cyberbullying and you don’t have to just put up with it. There are legal protections in place.
Check out what you need to know.
Table of Contents
What Can a Cyberbully Be Charged With?
Under the law, people have a right to be treated respectfully through electronic communication, just as they do in person. And charging a cyberbully is easier than charging a bully. There is a built-in record of their offensive words and content that can be difficult to refute.
This charge is called the Use Carriage Service to Menace, Harass, or Cause Offence. It comes with a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment or 5 years for an aggravated offence (material which includes private sexual content).
What Is a Carriage Service?
This charge can be applied any time someone is sending offensive content through any means of electronic communication. This includes telephones and cell phones, radio, and internet or intranet services.
What Is Considered Offensive?
There is a blurry line between what is offensive and what may be a joke in poor taste. Thus, it is up to the court to decide if the offending behaviour is serious enough to warrant punishment.
In general, the court will review the material and determine whether a reasonable person would be offended by the content.
Reporting a Cyberbully
Take a deep breath and ask yourself whether a reasonable person would be offended by the content you’re receiving. Sometimes in an emotionally charged situation, you might overreact to something not intended to be offensive. You might even ask for an objective third-party opinion.
But if the offences keep piling up, it’s time to take action. Send a message asking the bully to stop and then cease communicating — even if they continue sending messages. Block them where possible.
Instead of deleting all the messages, take screenshots, print emails, or any other way you can gather evidence of their misconduct.
Then call the non-emergency police number (assuming you aren’t in imminent danger, of course). You will receive further instructions about how to make a report.
After Reporting a Cyberbully
If the situation is serious enough, your offender will be charged and the case may go to court. It is always best to seek the advice of a qualified and experienced criminal lawyer if you are ever on either side of this situation.
As a victim of cyberbullying, you’ll need to know your rights. And if someone accuses you of cyberbullying, especially unintentionally, you’ll need to know how to mount a quality defence. A simple “I had no idea they would get so upset” is not always enough when the content is laid out in black and white for all to see.