ARCHIVED - Protecting Canadians from Bullying and Cyberbullying
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The Harper Government recognizes that bullying and cyberbullying are serious concerns for Canadian families and communities. As part of Bullying Awareness Week, November 17-23, the Harper Government is reaffirming its commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.
While bullying is not new, bullying carried out by electronic means is a relatively recent phenomenon. As with bullying more generally, young people are the most common targets of this type of behaviour. Bullying and cyberbullying have a devastating impact on their victims. Once the bullying conduct is in cyberspace, it is often permanently available over the Internet, where it can spread quickly and uncontrollably. This may compound feelings of fear, humiliation, social isolation and other negative effects on victims.
Protecting our Youth
The Harper Government has undertaken a number of education, awareness and prevention activities to address the problems of bullying and cyberbullying.
Education and Awareness
- Through the Healthy Canadians website and Facebook pages, the Government of Canada reaches out to Canadians on health issues, including information on bullying and cyberbullying, and provides tips on bullying prevention and intervention.
- Piloted in 2011, the Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help (WITS) program has RCMP officers in 50 elementary schools and has engaged over 8,800 students to prevent bullying and victimization. The program is run in collaboration with the Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network (PREVNet), the Rock Solid Foundation and University of Victoria researchers.
- The RCMP's Centre for Youth Crime Prevention offers resources, such as fact sheets, lesson plans and interactive learning tools, to youth, parents, police officers and educators on issues such as bullying and cyberbullying.
- GetCyberSafe, the Government of Canada's public awareness campaign on online safety, has information about cyberbullying that includes how to talk to youth about it, and how to respond to this type of incident.
- Operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, with support from the federal government, Cybertip.ca promotes safe internet use through a range of interactive tools and educational materials for parents, educators and youth. Their resource guide, School and Family Approaches to Intervention and Prevention: Addressing Self/Peer Exploitation, is designed to educate schools and families across Canada on the issue of youth or peers sharing sexual images of themselves.
- The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has recently created another resource, NeedHelpNow.ca, with support from the Government. It is designed to help youth who have made the mistake of sending sexual images of themselves to peers, which can lead to cyberbullying. The site offers youth tips on removing content, strategies for addressing peers and moving forward, as well as information on possible related Criminal Code violations.
- In 2013, the Government of Canada provided support to the Canadian Red Cross for the continuation of its youth-led Stand Up to Bullying and Discrimination in Canadian Communities project.
- Since 2007, the National Crime Prevention Centre has funded various projects focusing on preventing youth violence and bullying. The Harper Government is also currently supporting the development of a number of school-based projects that will target bullying, as part of $10 million that was committed in 2012 towards new crime prevention projects.
- The NCPC has also developed practical resources and tools on ways to address bullying. These include examples of promising and model programs that can be implemented in local communities, diagnostic tools to assess the nature of and extent of bullying problems, and guides for parents and educators.
- Through the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children study (HBSC), the Harper Government also supports research on cyberbullying, bullying and healthy relationships.
Bullying and the Criminal Code
- “Bullying” and “cyberbullying” capture a wide range of behaviour. Some of this behaviour, such as name calling and social exclusion, can be hurtful but it is not necessarily criminal behaviour. However, bullying and cyberbullying conduct can escalate to more serious activities that are criminal offences under the Criminal Code, including: criminal harassment; uttering threats; intimidation; mischief in relation to data; unauthorized use of computer; identity fraud; extortion; false messages, indecent or harassing telephone calls; counseling suicide; incitement of hatred; child pornography; and defamatory libel.
- As set out in the Speech from the Throne 2013, the Government will bring forward legislation to address the issue of cyberbullying. The legislation would close an identified gap in the Criminal Code relating to cyberbullying involving the non-consensual distribution of intimate images. The legislation would also give police and prosecutors new tools to effectively address cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.
The Harper Government is protecting our young people. We will continue to build on these efforts, working with partners in the public and private sectors to address the problems of cyberbullying and bullying.
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