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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
Attorney • (902) 423-2050

More Needs to Be Done in Nova Scotia to Protect Children Against Cyberbullying

4 comments

Nova Scotia’s Cyberbullying Task Force recently released its recommendations. The Report contains some valuable data and some strong recommendations to help protect children against bullying both online and offline. However, the province’s response to the Task Force recommendations has been underwhelming.

Proposed legislation

Nova Scotia's proposed anti-bullying legislation contains very little in a way of enforcement. The draft legislation requires schools to collect data for the government to consider before coming up with further anti-bullying legislation.

No enforcement

There are no provisions in the proposed legislation to force telephone companies or internet service providers to provide police with access to information during the investigation of cyberbullying cases.

No reporting requirement

The most surprising omission is the fact that there is no requirement for schools to report incidents of bullying to police.

Essentially the province of Nova Scotia has acknowledged that bullying is bad but is taking a "wait and see" approach before moving to address the problem.

Stronger approach needed

New anti-bullying legislation in Ontario allows schools to expel bullies. Speaking as a member of my son’s School Advisory Committee for the last six years, I know how difficult it is for schools to actually suspend or expel students. So I fully support anything that makes it easier for schools to address problematic students.

Bragging

The inadequacy of our current laws was reflected by reports last month that a man bragged on Facebook about his role in a group that bullied three Nova Scotia girls to commit suicide. The stomach-turning allegations allege that the man, who goes by the online name of Justin McKay, claims to be the leader of a Facebook group that bullies teenagers and encourages them to commit suicide.

Police are said to be investigating the allegations; although, it is not clear what crime McKay would be charged with if he is caught.

Victim takes matters into own hands

In the United States, a bullied teen turned to the Courts to try and stop online bullying when complaints to her school failed.

Fourteen-year-old Alex Boston sued two of her classmates, and their parents, for libel and harassment after the teens created a false Facebook page attributed to Boston and posted obscene, derogatory and racist comments that they attributed to Alex.

Many Canadians bullied

A recent poll suggested half of Canadians claim to have been bullied as children. Many of us who were bullied as children think: "I turned out OK, and my children will too." Perhaps that is why we have not taken bullying as seriously as we should.

Unfortunately, when we were children the bully was usually just one person and the harassment usually only took place in the school yard. Children could return to their home for safety and refuge. Now with social media, bullying is everywhere and the bully can enlist the aid of others from anywhere in the world to harass and intimidate vulnerable children even in their own homes.

Time to change our attitudes

When we were growing-up, drinking and driving was common place and tolerated. Now, it is rightly viewed as a dangerous and selfish act that has been criminalized in every province and state.

Laws now exist that require persons in authority to report suspected cases of child abuse. As media reports of teenage suicides have shown, bullying can have the same catastrophic affects as child abuse. We need legislation to criminalize online bullying and to require persons in authority including teachers, schools, and parents to report cyberbullying when it occurs.

4 Comments

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    There used to be a time when you could get away from bullying. But it’s not that way anymore. For kids that are being bullied, it now follows them home and everywhere because so much of the bullying happens online. Lots of kids turn to drastic measures to either protect themselves or hurt themselves. It is so tragic. I talk about online bullying and suicide here:

    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/05/02/online-bullying-and-teenage-suicide/

  2. Bill belsey says:
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    Thank you for your post.

    As a parent, educator, anti-bullying activist and the person who first coined the term “cyberbullying”, I would like to share four Websites I have created that seek to prevent bullying through education and awareness. I hope that they may be of help, information and support to others.

    http://www.bullying.org
    The world’s most visited and referenced Website about bullying

    http://www.cyberbullying.org
    The world’s first Website about cyberbullying

    http://bullyingcourse.com
    Offering Professional research-based, online courses and Webinars about bullying and cyberbullying for educators and parents

    http://www.bullyingawarenessweek.org
    The official Website of the annual Bullying Awareness Week

    I hope that these educational resources may prove helpful to you and your learning community.

    Sincerely,

    Bill Belsey

    President,
    Bullying.org
    “Where you are NOT alone!”

    e-mail: help@bullying.org

    Follow us on Twitter: @Bullying_org

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    Bill and “Mommy”

    Bullying is an issue that isn’t going away and the consequences are becoming more serious.

    Thanks for posting those helpful resources.

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    John, Bob and Mommy: Wonderful discussion! I am waiting for a comment from Anderson Cooper who is doing a wonderful job of turning the lights on to the bullying scene. I often tell my friends that between 12 and 16 years old, I cried every day because someone punched me, stole my lunch money or otherwise accosted me. I got on the football tream in 10th grade. I learned how to survive. Did I “make it through Ok” as many say? I am not sure about that. But I hope no other kid has to experience what I went through in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Discussions like this one can make a difference if you can get Fox and MSNBC and Anderson Cooper to join in ….. now that I think of it, President Obama was an abused high school kid. He went to a very advanced high school but his dad was African-American and, in Hawaii, Blacks are discriminated against and he probably felt the “twinge” of being an outcast.

    Sorry for the long post. Thanks for giving me the chance to talk about the subject.

    As a final Comment, the big problem is here as I see it is “due process” and the presumtion of innocence, running headlong into the threat of a suspected bully. I would like to read Comments from those who support protecting the alleged Bully until proven guilty.