It is important to understand what are the consequences of cyberbullying in Canada including what are the legal consequences of cyberbullying. One way to do this is to look at the actual cases of cyberbullying that gained the most notoriety and examine the consequences of cyberbullying from the point of view of the victim, from the point of view of the cyberbully and show the legal consequences of cyberbullying in each case.
In this article, the cases of Rehtaeh Parsons from Nova Scotia, Amanda Todd from British Columbia, Jamie Hubley from Ottawa, and Todd Loick from Saskatchewan are reviewed for cyberbullying consequences.
Consequences of Cyberbullying for the Victim
Rehtaeh Parsons was 15-years old in November 2011, when she went to a party and got excessively drunk by drinking vodka. She drank so much that she began vomiting. While she was in this severely inebriated condition, four teenage boys who went to her school allegedly raped her. Due to an alcohol-induced “blackout”, she had little recollection of the event afterwards, although she did remember vomiting during the time when one of the boys was having sex with her.
She was leaning out the window vomiting, while he allegedly raped her. A photograph of this was taken with him smiling and making a thumbs-up sign with his hand. Another photo showed two of the four boys dragging the passed out girl by the hands and the feet. These compromising photos were given to others and soon everyone at her school and many people in her town had seen them. Then they released the photos on the Internet. At first, she did not tell her family about the rape, but after a few days, she did. They took her to the hospital for examination and then they went to the police to make a report.
At school, both the boys and the girls called Rehtaeh a “slut.” She got text messages calling her dirty names. Some came from boys who expressed the want to have sex with her in the most vulgar ways. Once this cyberbullying started, it did not stop. Nearly every student in the school attacked Rehtaeh.
One year after the reported rape, the Canadian Police closed her case file due to, according to the RCMP records, a lack of evidence to prosecute the case. The police did not interrogate the boys, nor were their mobiles checked for photographic evidence of the alleged rape. The owners of the house where the underage drinking had occurred were not questioned or charged with providing alcohol to or contributing to the delinquency of minors.
After almost two years of being under a cyberbully attack, Rehtaeh committed suicide. This caused the police to re-open the case. The hacker group Anonymous took on the detective work to discover the identity of the boys, and they claim that in less than two hours they were able to identify two of the four boys involved. Later they had identified all four and even received written email confessions from two of the boys. The anonymous group threatened to release the information publicly if the police took no action. Finally, the police charged two of the boys with the distribution of child pornography because of the photos.
Consequences of Cyberbullying for the Bully
One boy in September 2014 entered a guilty plea to the charge of making child pornography by taking photos. The sentence he received was a conditional discharge and one year’s probation and to register as a sex offender.
A second boy in November 2014 entered a guilty plea for the charge of distributing child pornography. The sentence he received was one year’s probation.
Legal Consequences of Cyberbullying
The boys who took and then distributed photos of the rape of Rehtaeh were charged with child pornography crimes. For adults, the minimum sentence for a conviction of distributing child pornography is one year in prison. The maximum sentence is ten years in prison. Under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, the only permitted penalty for this charge is probation and a conditional discharge.
To most who have been following the progress of the Rehtaeh Parsons case, the boys – who allegedly raped her, took photos of it, bragged about it, distributed the photos online, and were part of the mob that both bullied and cyberbullied that poor girl until she took her own life to escape the torment – those boys seemed to get off without much punishment at all.
In Rehtaeh Parsons’s case, the Canadian legal system failed her. Rehtaeh reported the crime, but no rape charges were ever made. It took her suicide death over a year later, international attention, and threats from the Anonymous group to get the Nova Scotia police to take some action. There is an ongoing investigation by the Canadian Attorney General’s office into how the case was handled.
Consequences of Cyberbullying for the Victim
On Oct. 10, 2012. at age 15, Amanda killed herself in her home in British Columbia. Just before committing suicide, she posted a video on YouTube called “My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide and Self-harm,” about how she was bullied, cyberbullied and sexually exploited. The video was viewed more than 10 million times as of Jan. 2015.
In 2009, Amanda met a man online. After a year of chatting with her and telling her how pretty she was, he convinced her to show her breasts to him with a webcam. Afterwards, he told her he would show the photo to her friends and family unless she performed sexy shows on the webcam for him.
In 2010, the police told her the photo was in circulation on the Internet. She was humiliated at her school and had to move because of it. The guy contacted students at her new school and made a Facebook page with the topless photo of Amanda on it. She got in a fight over a guy and fifteen students attacked her verbally, while one beat her physically. She tried to kill herself by drinking bleach. Her stomach was pumped at the hospital.
When she came home, she received more cyberbullying about her failed attempt to kill herself. With her family, she moved again to start over. Every time she moved. The guy stalking her would find some of her classmates online and the cycle of cyberbullying and extortion would reoccur. He sent the video of her sex show to the students at her school, the teachers, and the parents.
Amanda became seriously depressed. The cyberbullying continued for six more months. She took anti-depression medication, and was in counselling, but then overdosed. Once again, she survived. The kids at school called her psycho. On her third suicide attempt, Amanda succeeded and died on Oct. 12, 2012.
Consequences for the Bully
In Jan. 2014, a 35-year old man named Aydin C. was arrested in Holland. In April 2014, he was charged with indecent assault and child pornography. The RCMP charged him with extortion, criminal harassment, internet luring, possession and distribution of child pornography, for what he did to Amanda Todd. He is being tried in Holland first, where he may have more than forty victims in that country.
The Canadian government said it may seek his extradition from Holland to Canada to face charges in Canada, but has not yet made the formal request to the Dutch government.
At this point, they are undetermined because the case has not yet gone to trial.
Consequences for the Victim
On Oct. 14, 2011, Jamie from Ottawa, age 15 killed himself. He was being bullied and cyberbullied because he was openly gay. To many, he put on a happy face to hide the pain inside. He wanted to create a gay-straight alliance at his high school called the Rainbow Club to encourage tolerance. When he tried, his posters were ripped up and he was verbally attacked in the school hallways and cyberbullied online. One time he was attacked on the school bus and forced to swallow batteries. He chronicled his experiences on a public blog, which shows he was extremely depressed during the last two weeks of his life. There were no consequences for the bullies and no legal consequences.
Cyberbullying Consequences for the Victim
Todd’s family was planning to move because the bullying and cyberbullying had become so bad. Todd suffered a constant flow of torment both online and at his school. The bullying lasted for years. Todd’s mother said his Facebook page was filled with disgusting abuse and taunts of some of the nastiest things she ever read. Todd’s mother does not know why he was a target. Todd committed suicide on Sept. 9, 2014, just twelve days before his 16th birthday.
Cyberbullying Consequences for the Bully
None. A spokesperson from Todd’s school said no one had reported any bullying in relation to Todd.
Legal Consequences of bullying
Todd’s mother wants criminal charges filed against the bullies. The RCMP investigation said they found no evidence of criminal harassment even though they reviewed 16,000 text messages, Facebook messages, videos and hundreds of images.
This review shows what are some consequences of cyberbullying. In the Rehtaeh Parsons case, the perpetrators were identified but got off easy. In the case of Amanda Todd, the cyberbully preyed on dozens of underage girls. Jamie Hubley gave plenty of warning signs, all one had to do was read his blog. The Todd Loick case remains a mystery. The one thing that is similar in all of these cases is that the bullying went on for years before the teens took their own life.