The country will enact tough penalties for one of the world’s newest crimes.
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Cyberbullying may be a new concept, but it’s a practice loaded with danger. Researchers report that victims of cyberbullying suffer from heightened levels of depression and anxiety, sometimes leading to suicide. That’s why the nation of New Zealand decided to finally take a stand and recently enacted a tough cyberbullying law with penalties such as hefty fines or even jail time.
Known as the Harmful Digital Communications bill, perpetrators can be held accountable for anything said on text messaging services, websites, Facebook, etc. The law specifically targets forms of hate speech, including racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism, and encourages the government to form a specific body dedicated to the oversight of these crimes. According to Fusion, perpetrators could face jail sentences up to three years long. People convicted of inducing someone to commit suicide now face fines in the tens of thousands of dollars.
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The United States has its own cyberbullying laws. However, laws vary by state. Currently, there is no federal policy in place to protect people from cyberbulling. In 2013, Buzzfeed reported that nine teenage suicides were linked to cyberbullying on the website ask.fm. Over 71 percent of American youth report to have been cyberbullied in the last year alone.
Policies may vary by country, but New Zealand just made an international splash. Advocates in the United States are hopeful that a law passed thousands of miles away will trend, right here at home.