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VZ Security Pages: Cyber bullying is a criminal offence

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Cyber bullying is a criminal offence

Whilst there is not yet an "anti-bullying law", bullies can be reported to the police for their actions, because the German Criminal Code (StGb) contains offences closely related to bullying.

This includes, for example:

  • "Direkte Beleidigung" (direct slander): Attacking the personal reputation of another person.
  • "Üble Nachrede" (libel): Insulting a person behind their back.
  • "Verleumdung" (defamation): Someone spreads information about another person they know to be false.

Other offences connected to bullying may include, for example, "Nötigung" (coercion – the threat or enactment of violence to force somebody to do something), "Bedrohung" (harassment), or "Erpressung".

Bullying can also infring on an individual’s personal privacy if, for example, photos from a mobile phone are distributed on the internet without permission. This represents a "Verletzung der Vertraulichkeit des Wortes" (violation of confidentiality of word). If private message are distributed, this represents a "Verletzung des Briefgeheimnisses" (violation of privacy of correspondence).

It is not possible to generalise about how the individual crimes will be punished. The punishment will depend upon the age of the perpetrator and the circumstances surrounding the act. The crimes can lead to high fines, and even imprisonment.

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