The province of Nova Scotia passed a new cyberbullying law (Cyber Safety Act) today that was inspired by Rehtaeh Parsons. I am pleased that this has happened and only hope that law enforcement and the court system will be able to keep up with the demand for justice. Bullying and cyberbullying (which I prefer to call Digital Harassment) is everpresent and seems rampant. If one has the good fortune of setting their Google Alerts onto ‘cyberbullying’, ‘ask.fm’. ‘teen suicide’, … you will be dismayed at the stories that will come up each night. These stories are from all over the world. I would say that Canada is probably underreported for some reason. I am seeing many stories from the U.S., the U.K. and from India.
A synopsis of the Cyber Safety Law in Nova Scotia include:
1) allows people to sue if they or their children are being cyberbullied
2) Victims can seek a protection order that could place restrictions on or help to identify the cyberbully
3) In case of a lawsuit, parents of cyberbullies could be held liable for damages if the aggressor is a minor
4) Creation of an investigative unit dedicated to pursuing and penalizing cyberbullies (whether adults or children)
5) Amendments to the Education Act – school administrators need to cooperate fully with investigations.
6) …. plus more
My one big hmmm question is this …. will the other Canadian provinces follow suit? If so, when? Why have we not heard more from what may be happening everywhere else? We know that the federal government has determined that cyberbullying by sending out exploitive photos will hopefully be addressed. Alberta has appointed a new minister to define how to provide increased safety, awareness, resources and supports to families and kids. Manitoba is looking at ways to counteract the bullying. The Board of Education in New Brunswick has a department for Cyberbullying with parent/teacher groups that meet on a regular basis (for which I have been invited to join via teleconference). British Columbia has ERASE Bullying. However, the reporting tool is on summer vacation right now. It is my thought that a tool like this needs to be open year round as bullying/cyberbullying usually doesn’t take a vacation.
B.C. needs similar Cyber Safety Laws also (as do the other provinces). To Christy Clark and all other government officials, we owe it to our children and youth to make it a safer place for our kids.
Amanda Todd was a British Columbian. She loved where she lived. The various systems that governed her care have not been without issues, but slowly, we are continuing to work with these departments. We can’t forget about the kids we have lost or the ones we have nearly lost. We need to celebrate the ones that are still with us. Please don’t forget Amanda and all the other children who need changes to be made!!!