Cyber Bullying
Authorities are playing hardball with convicted cyber bullies. Image: J_O_I_D/Flickr/CC BY

A 17-year-old boy was sentenced Monday to a year of juvenile detention in Perth, Australia. The boy was convicted of pressuring underage girls into performing lewd acts on a web cam and posting those videos on Facebook. Because of his age, the boy remains unidentified.

Cyber bullying on Facebook

The boy used a fake Facebook page that he created under the name of a known school bully. He threatened to have a 14-year-old girl mobbed and beaten if she didn’t expose herself on webcam. The webcam images were recorded and posted on Facebook without the girl’s knowledge. He also told her he would remove the video if she had sex with him.

Three girls were victims

The boy had previously pleaded guilty to coercing two other girls into similar acts. He said that he had committed the offenses to avenge a friend who had been bullied by the student whose name he used on the phony Facebook page. The specific charges include encouraging a child over the age of 13 and under the age of 16 to do an indecent act, attempting to procure a child aged over 13 and under 16 to do an indecent act and distributing child exploitation material.

‘Sexually naive’

Annie O’Neill, the boy’s lawyer, told the court that he was “sexually naive.” He was raised in the Baha’i faith, which prohibits sex before age 18. O’Neill said it is “so easy” in this digital age for teenagers to use social media inappropriately. She concluded that, though he knew what he was doing was wrong, he did not know it was a crime.

Mother empathizes with victims

The boy’s Iranian-born mother sobbed as she told the court magistrate, “My son, before, he never done anything wrong.” She said that the boy’s action had damaged her entire family. She also said that she empathized with the victims; she is the mother of a 14-year-old girl.

A greater chance for rehabilitation

Children’s Court Chief Magistrate Denis Reynolds said the boy’s behavior “showed a callous disregard for a vulnerable young female.” However, because of the boy’s faith and recognizing cultural differences, he handed down the least stringent punishment allowable in hopes it would afford a greater chance for rehabilitation.

Sources

Perth Now: http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/teen-sentenced-girls-to-perform-sex-acts-for-webcam/story-e6frg143-1226101594083
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/25/australian-teen-sentenced_n_908984.html
The West Australian: http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/9910695/boy-jailed-over-webcam-sex-acts/

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