Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Research Student: Jo Pattinson

Cyberbullying amongst young people- is education based regulation sustainable?

Photo of Jo Pattinson

The regulation of cyberbullying is new and fraught with difficulty.  While adults risk criminal prosecution for cyberbullying behaviour, young people both victims and perpetrators alike, are often treated within the behavioural policies practiced by their particular school, with little involvement from the outside.  Since 2012, headteachers have had the power to authorise the search of students without consent for electronic devices.  Under these powers the searcher may choose to delete data from a student’s device.  There is little evidence these powers were warranted in the first place or are in fact being used.   Attempts to use schools to regulate cyberbullying invoke potential human rights issues which have so far, not been tested by the Courts.  This research will explore the effectiveness of current regulatory regimes through original qualitative data gathered from students, teaching staff and police who have had experience in dealing with cyberbullying in the UK.  From there, the data will be used to seek alternatives which may sound in more successful regulation and better outcomes for victims.

Background

I am an Australian who worked as a civil litigation solicitor in Australia for 7 years before emigrating to the UK with my family in 2008.  I qualified to practice in the UK and worked in litigation here for 2 years, before deciding to embark on a LLM in Cyberblaw.  Through this degree I developed my interest in cyberbullying

I have a Law/Arts degree from Charles Darwin University (Australia) and an LLM from the University of Leeds.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I became interested in cyberbullying through media reports detailing the most tragic cases involving cyberbullying and through my experience as a parent governor at a secondary school.  I am motivated to determine how young people can enjoy all the positive aspects of social media and the internet without fear of victimisation.  When a young person needs help because of a negative experience using social media, there should be clear and effective methods for providing such assistance to circumvent the damaging psychological effects of cyberbullying.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

I would like to make a contribution that will have a positive effect on the lives of young people.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

To be involved in policy and legislation creation in this area.

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