B.C. is leading the push to crack down on cyberbullying, including changes to Canada’s Criminal Code.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond raised cyberbullying as a priority issue this week at a meeting with her federal counterpart and ministers responsible for justice and public safety in other provinces.
At British Columbia’s request, a national working group will investigate cyberbullying and consider whether Criminal Code revisions should be made.
“My colleagues recognized that this is an issue in all of our jurisdictions, and as a result of the discussions around the table, there was agreement to form a working group to explore whether there are gaps in the Criminal Code that could be addressed to assist police when dealing with the rapidly changing online world and social media,” said Bond.
Cyberbullying garnered national attention after Maple Ridge teen Amanda Todd took her own life following years of torment in school and online.
Todd’s heart-breaking video, posted online a month before her death, brought Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton to tears.
“I am very supportive of what Minister Bond has brought forward,” said Dalton.
“It’s evident from Amanda’s story how serious this can be. She was being pursued from school to school, the hostility and the evil. It’s just so sad that something like that could happen.”
The province is also hosting an “Erase Bullying” summit next week to explore how best to deal with the issue and reduce its impact on children and young people.
The summit will build on B.C. government’s ERASE Bullying strategy – a 10-point action plan introduced last June by Premier Christy Clark, who has been passionate about the issue for years.
Part of this strategy includes anti-bullying training, which is being provided to approximately 15,000 educators and community partners over the next five years.
A website (erasebullying.ca), which goes live next week, will allow kids to anonymously report bullying.
Dalton, a former teacher, believes education and awareness are key to address bullying.
“It’s important that it gets into schools, systematically, and not just haphazardly,” said Dalton.
“So kids are really aware of the dangers and impacts it can have on other students.”
• The Erase Bullying summit takes place summit Nov. 13, at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver.
Be safe online
Internet safety is also the focus of Crime Prevention Week this year.
During Crime Prevention Week (Nov. 1-7), the B.C. government is reminding parents of the need to be aware of what to watch out for when their kids are on the Internet – viewing inappropriate material, sexual exploitation and cyberbullying, as well as frauds and scams. Instilling real-world judgement and online etiquette in your kids can go a long way in keeping your whole family safe.
• Think twice before posting information and/or photographs.
Once online, information is out of your control and cannot be retracted.
• Talk to kids about the dangers of sharing excessive information.
If advertising that a family is on holiday by writing on the front door or living room window is not okay, why put that type of information online for the world to see?
• Signing a child up to a site before they reach the user age outlined by the site is a violation of the terms of service.
Lying about an age can result in your child receiving advertisements directed to an older audience.
• Remind youth that cyberbullies feed on negativity. The best way to make
cyberbullying stop is to ignore the online bullying environment and report it in the real world to school or authorities.
• Parents shouldn’t be afraid to venture into social media. You may want to take this on with your kids and learn together how to navigate the content safely. This will help you get to know what your kids are doing
• Encourage online etiquette and instill best-time practices with youth.
Encourage “cool-down” times and putting away devices when opportunities for family time arise.
• Don’t make your passwords obvious and change them frequently.