A legally-informed intervention for schools to prevent and intervene in cases of cyberbullying

A legally-informed intervention for schools in cases of cyberbullying

Project dates: 2012-02-10 00:00:00 - 2016-12-31 00:00:00

Cyberbullying is a growing problem for young people as well as amongst adults in the workplace. This project will develop and trial a legally-informed intervention which will be delivered by young people in order to increase student, parent and teacher knowledge of the law to prevent and manage cyberbullying incidents.


What is Cyberbulling

Cyberbullying (i.e., bullying through technology) is an emerging and serious problem amongst student populations and is also a growing issue in the workplace amongst teachers (Campbell, Spears, Slee, Butler, & Kift, 2010; Privitera & Campbell 2009). This form of bullying has been linked to anxiety and depression (Campbell et al., 2010) and is not only costly in economic terms but can also lead to suicide (Carbonell, 2010; Goldman, 2010; O’Rourke, 2006; Rook, 2008; Stafford, 2010). There are many calls in society for laws against cyberbullying (Carbonell, 2010) and schools in particular are unclear of their rights and responsibilities under the existing law with regard to these phenomena.

However, there is scant research on the law and face-to-face bullying (Chan, 2009; Slee & Ford, 1999) with even less on cyberbullying and the law (Campbell, Butler, & Kift, 2008). Prevention and intervention strategies for cyberbullying lack a solid evidence base and this is especially true of legal solutions. Schools are grappling with this issue as students (and perhaps staff) use modern technology in ways that the original designers did not envisage.

The Project

To understand:

  • What criminal and civil laws currently apply to cyberbullying, and are those laws operating appropriately and effectively?
  • What is the level of knowledge and understanding of the rights and obligations under current laws by students, parents, staff and schools?
  • What steps should be taken to address any deficiencies in the knowledge and understanding of the rights and obligations under current laws by students, parents, staff and schools?
  • Is there a need for reform of current laws, and if so what form should that reform take?

The purpose of this project is to obtain staff and student perspectives of cyberbullying, and to understand existing school response strategies to incidences of cyberbullying, through a school consultation process. Data collection is to focus on what approaches and resources schools have used, what has worked well and what hasn’t, and what information and resources schools think might still be needed, especially in relation to staff and student training about the law, to effectively prevent and intervene in cyberbullying situations.



Funding / Grants

  • Australian Research Council


  • Prof Marilyn Campbell - QUT Principal Investigator
  • Prof Desmond Butler - Chief Investigator
  • Dr Donna Cross - Chief Investigator
  • Dr Barbara Anne Spears - Chief Investigator
  • Adj Prof Sally Kift - Chief Investigator
  • Prof Phillip Thomas Slee - Chief Investigator
  • Mr Andrew E. Knott - Partner Investigator


  • ARC Linkage Projects - Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Emil Ford Lawyers
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Macrossans Lawyers
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Queensland Guidance and Counselling Association
  • ARC Linkage Projects - QLD Independent Education Union
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Queensland Teachers' Union
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Brisbane Girls Grammar School
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Edith Cowan University
  • ARC Linkage Projects - Flinders University
  • ARC Linkage Projects - University of South Australia