Concerns about power and influence of social media in child abuse royal commission


Friday, January 2, 2015

SIMON SANTOW: As the child abuse Royal Commission moves into its second year of public hearings, there are growing concerns about how victims and organisations are using social media to discuss institutional child sexual abuse.

While social media is enabling survivors to connect with others and candidly share their stories in a way that was never possible before. There are warnings about the possible risks it may pose to future legal action.

Emily Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: Last month, abuse survivor Alecia Buchanan told the Royal Commission about the comfort and support she’d found from others via social media.

ALECIA BUCHANAN: After so many years of silence, we… it was pouring out and a public forum of course we didn’t have anything like this in the old days, you know. So the social medium and people which, I’d never heard from contacted me and saying this is… thank you for… you know that was actually the most powerful thing, you know and it felt like we were being public.

EMILY BOURKE: Aaron Kernaghan has worked as a criminal defence lawyer and prosecutor and he represents victims and institutions appearing before the national inquiry.

AARON KERNAGHAN: It isn’t easy to come forward and talk to police, or to lawyers or to judges, it’s even less easy to talk to juries. But interestingly we seem to be moving as a society to a place where people have a great deal of ease with talking about incredibly private matters in a very public way.

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