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The Italian Draft Law Against Bullying and Cyber-bullying

posted 2 weeks ago

On May 15, the Draft Law containing provisions to bolster the prevention and counteraction of bullying and cyberbullying was approved, which integrates and develops the existing provisions on the subject.

Reason for the law.

The new law aims to prevent and counteract bullying and cyberbullying in all their forms, particularly through preventive actions and a strategy of attention and protection towards minors, both victims and offenders, with educational and formative actions. No criminal measures are provided. The provisions of the special laws on the subject are partly revised and partly maintained.

The definition of bullying.

Bullying refers to repeated aggression or harassment by a single person or a group of people against a minor or a group of minors. It can cause feelings of anxiety, fear, isolation, or exclusion, through acts or behaviours of harassment, pressure, or physical or psychological violence, incitement to suicide or self-harm, threats or blackmail, theft or damage, insults or mockery.

The definition of cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying is defined as any form of pressure, aggression, harassment, blackmail, insult, denigration, defamation, identity theft, alteration, unlawful acquisition, manipulation, unlawful processing of personal data to the detriment of minors, carried out by telematic means, as well as the dissemination of online content also targeting one or more members of the minor’s family whose intentional and predominant purpose is to isolate a minor or a group of minors by enacting serious abuse, harmful attack or mocking them.

Awareness-raising campaigns.

Awareness-raising campaigns on cyberbullying on bullying and cyberbullying are planned for citizens, primarily involving socio-educational services in synergy with schools, local authorities, sports organizations and charity. In particular, periodic informational campaigns for prevention and awareness about bullying and cyberbullying will be conducted, also to spread knowledge of parental control systems, utilizing media and private entities.

The role of the school.

Each school must adopt an internal code for the prevention and combat of bullying and cyberbullying and establish a permanent monitoring committee that includes representatives of students, teachers, families, and experts.

Unless the act constitutes a crime, when acts of bullying, including non-digital forms, occur, the principal applies the procedures to combat the phenomenon. He also promptly informs the parents of the minors or the persons exercising parental responsibility over them and promote appropriate educational initiatives for the minors themselves. In more serious cases, or if the behaviours are repeated and, in any case, when the educational initiatives adopted by the school have not produced positive results, the principal reports to the competent authorities for the possible activation of re-educational measures.

The role of the Tribunale per i Minorenni.

The Public Prosecutor at the Tribunale per i Minorenni – children’s court, upon receiving information that a minor engages in aggressive behaviour, even in groups or carried out by telematic means, towards people, animals, or property, or actions that damage the dignity of others, gathers the necessary information and verifies the conditions for activating re-educational measures.

Specifically, this may involve a restorative justice or an educational intervention project with re-educational and reparative purposes under the direction and control of Social Services. For example, the minor may be involved in social volunteer activities, theatre workshops, creative writing workshops, music courses, sports activities, artistic activities, and other activities suitable for developing respect for others and fostering healthy and positive peer relationships and non-violent communication methods.

At the conclusion, the Tribunale per i Minorenni can declare the procedure closed; or order the continuation of the educational intervention project or adopt a new project that meets the changing educational needs of the minor; or place the minor under the supervision of social services; or order the placement of the minor in a community.

The role of the Polizia Postale.

The Polizia Postale – Postal police reports annually to the technical committee on the outcomes of the measures to combat cyberbullying.

The admonition.

Until a complaint is filed or a report is submitted for defamation, threats, revenge porn, or unlawful data processing, the admonition procedure is applicable. The injured party can report the facts to the public security authority, requesting the Chief of Police to issue the admonition to the perpetrator. The Chief of Police summons the minor, along with at least one parent or another person exercising parental responsibility, and, if necessary, gathers information from investigative bodies and hears from those informed of the facts. If the request is found to be valid, the Chief of Police orally warns the minor, urging them to behave in accordance with the law, and prepares a written record of the warning.

Administrative protection.

It is recognized the right of the minor over 14 years old, as well as of each parent or person exercising responsibility for the minor, to bring an action against the data controller or the operator of the website or social media, in order to obtain the take down of any other personal data of the minor when spread online. In the event of no response within 48 hours, or if the data controller or the website or social media manager cannot be identified, the concerned party may submit a similar request to the Garante per la protezione dei dati personali – data protection authority – which will act within 48 hours from receipt of the request.

The European provisions.

On April 23, the European Parliament presented a motion for a resolution on implementing measures to combat bullying, particularly cyberbullying, in the EU. Whereas cyberbullying is constantly on the rise, especially in the period since social media became widespread, the European Parliament urged the Commission to intervene to support the Member States in awareness-raising campaigns on cyberbullying and called on the Commission to foster training courses for younger people on how to use social media in a proper and ethical manner.

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posted 5 days ago

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