Responding to Cyberbullying: The Case for Family Conferencing


  • Colette Langos University of Adelaide
  • Rick Sarre University of South Australia



Cyberbullying, anti-social conduct, diversionary criminal justice, restorative justice, family conference, youth court,


Cyberbullying is a form of anti-social conduct which is best understood as an online social relationship problem. Because of our growing understanding of the phenomenon, we can now see that any socio-legal response should envisage, therefore, a relationship solution. This article considers how one diversionary criminal justice process is particularly well suited to responding to incidents of cyberbullying where juveniles are involved yet which are deemed to be sufficiently serious to attract a potential criminal penalty. It explores, specifically, the option of family conferences (facilitated by youth justice co-ordinators) within the South Australian youth court framework. It concludes that both young cyberbullies and young victims of cyberbullying may benefit from alternatives to a retributive justice process, given that the primary focus of family conferencing is the repair of harm and the restoration of relationships.

Author Biographies

Colette Langos, University of Adelaide

BA, LLB, GDLP, MComL, PhD; Lecturer in Law, University of Adelaide

Rick Sarre, University of South Australia

LLB, MA, SJD, JDhc; Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, University of South Australia