Laura Higson-Bliss

Laura Higson-Bliss talks with Behind the Scenes at BLS on the role of criminal law in addressing the harms of cyberbullying. 

I often get asked why I chose academia over becoming a solicitor or a barrister. Like the majority of Law Student’s I started my Law Degree envisioning that I would one day become a solicitor but for me, it never worked out that way. The lack of funds available at the time to commence my LPC and the passing of my Dad in the final year of my degree meant I had to balance continuing my studies, with keeping a roof over mine and my little brothers head. I knew at the end of my undergraduate degree that I was not ready to leave education just yet, so I enrolled on an LLM by research degree, studying part-time. My LLM allowed me the freedom to research an area of law I was interested in, whilst being able to balance my studies alongside working full-time in retail (a job I hated but someone had to pay the bills!). After completing my LLM, I was offered a position at Edge Hill University to complete a PhD, alongside gaining valuable teaching experience. This allowed me to research an area of law I have always found interesting – social media and its governance.

As generation Y, I can still remember the first time we got the internet at home, my first form of social media (MSN and BEBO for those who can remember) and getting into trouble for running up the phone bill by constantly using the internet. Yet, we now live in a world where there is a whole generation who do not know life without the internet or indeed, Facebook or Twitter. Cyberbullying is often spoken about in the media, and it seems that every year an incident occurs linking to online abuse, resulting in calls for changes to the law. My research therefore examines how the criminal law is applied to conduct carried out online, in particular online abuse. My research is very critical of the current patchwork approach undertaken by the criminal justice system when it comes to online behaviours, particularly its lack of protection for women online. But for me, my research is more than just critiquing the law, it is also about creating some changes in society, which is why I feel so passionate about going into schools and educating students about communication law. For many of the students I have taught, it comes as a shock to them that you can be prosecuted and sometimes imprisoned for comments made online!

Becoming an academic was never part of my five year plan when I started university 10 years ago, but I could not imagine doing anything else now! 

Laura's staff profile