Cyberbullying in Canada
Canada is one country that takes bullying and cyberbullying very seriously. Mediasmarts reports there are national Canadian laws against cyberbullying, including laws against harassment, defamatory libel, and against the publishing of any intimate photos/videos of a person without their consent.
Cyberbullying laws include a criminal penalty for a conviction that includes a prison sentence up to five years for the unauthorized publishing of intimate photos/videos and up to ten years for harassment, defamation, or libel.
What is cyberbullying in Canada?
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), cyberbullying involves the use of communication technologies such as e-mail, social networking sites (Facebook, Google+ and Twitter), the Internet, instant messaging, text messaging and Web sites to repeatedly harass or intimidate others.
The RCMP has stated that cyberbullying includes:
- Creating a Web site to make fun of other people
- Posting embarrassing photographs of someone online
- Posting videos on YouTube which are embarrassing or of a harassing nature
- Pretending to be someone by using their name, contact information or photo
- Sending threatening, insulting or cruel e-mails, text messages or real-time messages via instant chat
- Tricking someone into revealing embarrassing or personal information and then sending it to others via e-mail or posting it online
Is there cyberbullying in Canada?
Yes, there is cyberbullying in Canada and likely in all other countries with an Internet presence. There is also physical and verbal bullying not related to electronic technology. PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), founded in 2006, is a national network of 55 organizations serving Canadian youth and 69 Canadian research scientists.
This network is doing research regarding, and assessing the problems related, to all bullying — not just cyberbullying. The goal of the network is to make people across Canada aware of the bullying problems in the country and to improve Canada’s World Health Organization ranking among countries reporting bullying incidents. Currently, of 35 countries in which bullying statistics are being kept, Canada has reported the ninth-largest number of such bullying incidents.
There are numerous lists showing the effects of cyberbullying on the victims. PREVNet has created a list showing the dangers for the aggressors, the children and adolescents who bully others:
- Academic problems and increased school dropout rate
- Being bullied at the hands of others
- Delinquency and substance use
- Difficulties in their relationships with others
- Gang involvement and criminal adulthood
- Not knowing the difference between right and wrong
- Sexual harassment and dating aggression
Annual Cyberbullying Survey 2013
Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying charity in the United Kingdom, conducts an annual cyberbullying survey. The organization interviewed 10,008 young people between the ages of 13 and 22 for their Annual Cyberbullying Survey 2013. Of the people interviewed:
- 67% were from the UK
- 17% were from the US
- 12% were from Australia
- 4% were from other countries
Ditch the Labels’ cyberbullying statistics showed that of the young people surveyed:
- Males and females are equally at risk of being the targets of cyberbullying
- Cyberbullying has occurred to 70%
- Catastrophic effects on social lives and self-esteem have been experienced by 69%
- Highly frequent cyberbullying has occurred to 37%
- Extreme cyberbullying on a daily basis has occurred to 20%
- Cyberbullying is twice as likely to occur on Facebook as on any other social networking site
- The social networking sites with the highest occurrences of cyberbullying are Facebook, Twitter and Ask.FM
- 54% on Facebook
- 28% on Twitter
- 26% on Ask.FM
Suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons
Rehtaeh Parsons was a 17-year-old high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia when she committed suicide in April 2013. Four boys had allegedly sexually assaulted her two years earlier. One of the four took a photo of the incident and posted it on the Internet. The image rapidly spread throughout high school. Months of cyberbullying by Rehtaeh’s fellow students followed.
The photo of Rehtaeh Parsons having sex with one of the four boys went viral. Rehtaeh’s friends shunned her. People she knew, and some she didn’t know, harassed her. Boys posted messages on Facebook, asking Rehtaeh to have sex with them. According to the Chronicle Herald in Canada, the RCMP spent a year investigating the alleged criminal assault but was unable to press charges due to insufficient evidence.
Supporters of the four boys harassed Rehtaeh Parsons’ family. The harassment and bullying made life unbearable in their current neighbourhood. The family was forced to move.
Rehtaeh suffered from long-lasting psychological and emotional effects as a result of the alleged assault. She attempted suicide in April 2013, was hospitalized and placed on life support. Her family made the decision to take her off life support three days later.
Suicide of Amanda Michelle Todd
Four hours after she uploaded the video, Amanda hanged herself.
Amanda’s parents were divorced. During the 2009 to 2010 school year, Amanda went to live with her father. She began using video chat to meet people online. One person complimented Amanda on her looks and convinced her to bare her breasts on camera. This person later blackmailed Amanda. He told her that unless she gave him a “show,” he would post the photo online.
In March 2012, Amanda returned to live with her mother. Later that year, the police informed her family that the photo was being circulated online. Amanda began experiencing panic disorder, anxiety and depression, and she started using alcohol and drugs. Amanda changed schools in an attempt to confuse the blackmailer regarding her location.
The individual who had been blackmailing Amanda returned to haunt her after a year of silence. He opened a new Facebook account, used the topless photo of Amanda as his profile image, and contacted students at Amanda’s new school. The bullying continued, so Amanda changed schools a second time.
Following an incident in which she was physically attacked by a group of students from her school, Amanda attempted to commit suicide by drinking bleach. Miraculously, Amanda survived this attempt to take her own life.
One of the students at Amanda’s school learned of her failed suicide attempt. When she returned home from the hospital, Amanda accessed Facebook and saw many abusive messages.
Amanda’s family moved to a new city, but the cyberbullying in Canada didn’t stop. The individual who had blackmailed Amanda would find out whenever Amanda changed schools. He would open a new Facebook account, and contact students at Amanda’s school, saying that he was new to the area and was going to start attending classes at the school the following week. He asked the individuals to “friend” him on Facebook. When he had amassed enough friends, he would send the video of Amanda’s “show” to teachers and students at the new school, as well as to parents of the students.
Nova Scotia’s Cyber Safety Act
In May 2013, in response to the suicides of both Rehtaeh Parsons and Amanda Michelle Todd, lawmakers in Nova Scotia passed Bill No. 61, An Act to Address and Prevent Cyberbullying. This legislation, the first of its kind in Canada, makes those individuals responsible for cyberbullying accountable under the law, and it protects the victims.
Victims and their families no longer have to rely solely on police pursuing criminal action. The people on the receiving end of cyberbullying can now pursue civil actions. They can sue the cyberbullies for damages, and they can seek orders of protection against the individuals. The role of school principals is clarified in the law. Parents are held responsible for the actions of their children under the age of 18.
The Cyber Safety Act created CyberSCAN, Canada’s first cyberbullying investigative unit. CyberSCAN is a five-person team, run by veteran policeman Roger Merrick, which is dedicated to assisting cyberbullying victims. The team investigates cyberbullying complaints and resolves the situations using both informal and formal legal methods.
Online Crime Act: Protecting Canadians
Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, addresses a gap in Canada’s Criminal Code. According to the Government of Canada, Department of Justice, the bill makes it illegal to distribute an intimate image of a person without the individual’s consent. An intimate image is defined in Bill C-13 as
“a visual recording of a person made by any means including a photographic, film or video recording in which the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts or is engaged in explicit sexual activity.”
The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act was introduced on November 20, 2013, by Federal Justice Minister Peter McKay. The bill would make it a crime to transmit intimate images (still or video) of a person without their knowledge or consent. If this federal (rather than provincial) cyberbullying bill becomes law, distributing “intimate images” without consent would be punishable by up to five years in jail. In addition to making it illegal to distribute the images, the law would require that the images be removed from the Internet
How can parents help prevent cyberbullying?
Psych Central, the Internet’s oldest and largest independent mental health social network, has been run by mental health professionals since 1995. According to the network, the following list contains ways parents can help prevent cyberbullying.
- Attend school or community functions at which cyberbullying is being discussed. Speak with other parents and your child’s teacher and school counsellor if you suspect your child is involved in cyberbullying, either as a perpetrator or a victim.
- Be aware of what your child writes on his or her electronic device(s). Monitor the family computers and tablets as well.
- Carefully monitor your own reaction if your child reports being cyberbullied. Try to stay calm as you work on a plan for what to do next.
- Demonstrate to your child that you can be trusted with any cyberbullying information he or she shares with you. Explain that you will keep his or her confidence as long as no one’s safety or health is at risk.
- Explain that you don’t intend to punish your child for being truthful about his or her involvement in cyberbullying. Keep the lines of communication as open as possible with careful, non-threatening conversation.
- In an age-appropriate manner, explain what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons in Nova Scotia and Amanda Michelle Todd in British Columbia. Express your concern that such terrible things must never happen in your family or any other family.
- Know your child’s user IDs, passwords and screen names for all electronic devices.
- Learn the current terminology used by young people today when corresponding with each other. Learn what the words and abbreviations mean. There is a reason why most children don’t want the adults in their lives to visit their Facebook or Twitter pages. They want their privacy.
- Remind your child to treat others the way he or she would like to be treated. That means never saying or writing anything about another person that they would not say be willing or comfortable saying to that person’s face. It also means never saying or writing anything about another person that they would not be said about themselves.
- Watch for any ongoing or sudden signs that your child seems anxious, fearful, withdrawn, uninterested in school or that they don’t want to be around current or former friends.
As part of a conviction ruling, a Canadian judge, by court order, can have the police confiscate electronic equipment and order a complete ban of using electronic communication of any kind by a convicted person, for an extended period that includes the time of incarceration and the subsequent period of probation. The court order may also require the perpetrator to pay the costs for removal of the offending images/videos from the Internet.
In addition to criminal law, a lawsuit in civil court to seek damages from the offender and possibly the parents of a minor child offender is permissible as well.
Besides the national laws of Canada, there are specific laws against cyberbullying to protect kids, any teen, and adults in the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and the Northwest Territories.
In some of the Canadian provinces, amendments to the Education Act require schools to have policies that help prevent cyberbullying and take action to stop cyberbullying upon discovery. The effects of no cyberbullying programs help teachers understand the cyberbullying signs and increase cyberbullying awareness among the students by encouraging them to report any online attacks of bullies that the students know about.
This review of the Canadian court records shows that there are cyberbullying cases about middle school bullying and sibling bullying. There are case involving Facebook bullying and cyberbullying on other social media. The cases of high school cyberbullying reveal many facts about cyberbullying.
The long term effects of cyberbullying are very negative, especially when combined with verbal and physical assaults that happen in person. These cases show why people cyberbully, what causes it, how to deal with it, and how to stop it.
Freedom of Speech vs. Cyberbullying
The definition of freedom of speech in Canada is the right to free expression. This has protection under section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, subject to reasonable limits as determined by law, which include a prohibition against interfering with another person’s right to life, liberty, and personal security under section 7 of the Charter.
In any legal case of cyberbullying in Canada, using a section 2 defense, based on the right to free expression, is not adequate, because of the simultaneous violation of section 7, which carries more weight in balance between the two rights.
In simple terms, a person in Canada can freely express themselves, as long as the expression does not cause harm to another person. Cyberbullying is illegal in Canada just like regular bullying that occurs at school or at work as office bullying.
Legal Cases about Cyberbullying in Canada
Here are some of the legal cases tried in Canada and the results of the Canadian courts’ verdicts regarding cyberbullying in Canada:
Canadian Supreme Court Legal Cases about Cyberbullying
A.B. v. Bragg Communication
In the case of A.B. v. Bragg Communications, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the rights of a 15-year old to remain anonymous when seeking a court order to get information about the identity of the user from an Internet Service Provider (Bragg Communication) by using the IP address of said user.
In this case, cyberbullying information about the characteristics of the attack included that this user posted a fake Facebook profile about the girl using her picture, a slightly modified version of her name, derogatory comments about her appearance, and sexually explicit references.
The girl, through her guardian, sought to identify the user in order to sue them for defamation as the proper way of how to handle bullying that occurs as internet bullying. Because of her age, she requested the ability to remain anonymous and for the court to ban publication of the case, noting she would suffer additional harm from further publication of information about her and the case.
The Supreme Court agreed with her right to remain anonymous and ordered the ISP to give the information that identified the cyberbully, but did not enforce a total publication ban on information about the legal case. The court noted that publication of case information that did not identify the girl would best serve the public interests and would balance the rights of a free press with the protection of a child.
Legal Cases of Cyberbullying in Nova Scotia Canada
Drastic Changes in Nova Scotia Law
During 2013, the province of Nova Scotia passed the Cyber-safety Act (in force from August 6, 2013 to December 11, 2015) and established the first police unit in Canada dedicated to investigating cyberbullying called CyberSCAN.
CyberSCAN reports that on December 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of the province of Nova Scotia repealed the Cyber-safety Act, saying it was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Nova Scotia Supreme Court Case causing the decision was Crouch vs. Snell.
The ruling by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court severely disappointed members of the Department of Justice in Nova Scotia who are now seeking to create a modified version of the cyberbullying law. The DOJ are reviewing legal options based on the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In the meantime, the CyberSCAN unit is no longer investigating cases of cyberbullying and turned its efforts to education and prevention of cyberbullying. Now, the police in Nov Scotia will not deal with cyberbullying unless it also involves a criminal element, such as physical assault.
Case Against Christopher George Prosper – Ruling during February 2014
(while the Nova Scotia Cyber-safety Act was in force)
The Globe and Mail reports that the first cyberbullying prevention order, under the Nova Scotia Cyber-safety Act, happened during February 2014. It was against Christopher George Prosper.
The case cited the provisions of the Cyber-safety Act, which was provincial law in Nova Scotia at that time.
Andrea Paul, who is chief of the Pictou Landing First Nation, alleged that a local resident named Christopher George Prosper, used social media to post abusive, defamatory, and obscene comments about her and her family members.
The cyberbullying started in fall 2013 shortly after the Cyber-safety Act became enforceable on August 6, 2013. The Cyber-safety Act was able to define illegal actions and define what is a cyberbully in the province of Nova Scotia.
An example of the virulent posts included Mr. Prosper calling Chief Paul a “crook, back-stabbing bitch, two-faced to our elders.” Prosper also posted “Your fake smile needs a punch in the face…”
The history of this case shows that the cyberbullying increased when Chief Paul blocked messages and postings from Mr. Prosper. Paul feared for the safety of herself and her family, so she went to the police. Her case went to the new CyberSCAN unit, the first of its kind in Canada. The investigation by the CyberSCAN unit turned up ample evidence of cyberbullying by Prosper directed at Paul.
The Director of Public Safety sent staff to speak with Prosper. The police officers told him to stop cyberbullying and remove his posts about Paul. Prosper said he would comply, but two weeks later the online taunts and threats from Prosper continued. Prosper also sent some negative electronic messages to Paul’s teenage daughters.
During February 2014, because of Mr. Prosper’s continued cyberbullying, the Director of Public Safety brought a prevention action against him. Mr. Prosper, who did not have legal representation during the case, did not appear at the hearing when the judge gave the ruling.
On February 11, 2014, the Globe and Mail reported, the Honorable Justice Heather Robinson of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia found that Mr. Prosper engaged in cyberbullying according to the Cyber-safety Act. The judge ruled that Mr. Prosper hurt Chief Paul’s psychological well-being and reputation, by making abusive, defamatory, and obscene posts about the Chief and her family.
The court granted the one-year cyberbullying prevention order requested by the Director of Public Safety. The court ordered Mr. Prosper to remove the cyberbullying posts, stop cyberbullying, and to refrain from contacting Paul any further. The court also fined Mr. Prosper the court costs of CA$750.
Violation of a Prevention Order
Cyberbullies who violate Canadian courts’ prevention orders are subject to having their electronic equipment confiscated. This includes computers, laptops, tablets devices and mobile phones. They can be fined up to CA$5,000 and/or sentenced to jail for up to six months.
Case Status Update
The court order, in this case, expired before the Supreme Court of the province of Nova Scotia repealed the Cyber-safety Act on December 11, 2015.
Case Against C.L. – Ruling during July 2014
(Youth Criminal Justice Act used by judge to ban use of social media)
The R. v. C.L. case happened in the Youth Court in Nova Scotia. Under the anonymity rules in Canada for youth, underage persons in this case, including the defendant, are only identified by the initials of their name. This case against C.L. is unique because it includes physical and sexual assault as well as cyberbullying.
The law for juveniles in Canada is the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA). Because of the cyberbullying in this case, the judge in the ruling noted that the provisions of the Cyber-safety Act applied, but the cyberbullying mixed with other crimes allowed the sentencing under the provisions of the YCJA, which do not rely on the Cyber-safety Act.
There were numerous offences in this case.
On September 24, 2013, police responded to call about a fight happening at the Sydney Academy. Earlier that morning C.L. and his ex-girlfriend A.B. (with whom he previously had a baby), had a physical fight. C.L. went to the school to confront her. He was carrying a knife. For this offence, he was guilty of assault.
During the period from November 12, 2013 to December 3, 2013 A.B. experienced verbal, physical, and sexual assault by C.L., which included verbal insults, being pushed into a wall, grabbing her by the hair, knocking her down, hitting her head into the floor and being punched in the face. C.L. tried to force her to have sex with him, when she was too tired. Her refusal caused him to kick her in the stomach and legs. Then he went to make hot dogs. When he came back, he forced hot dogs into her ears and mouth.
Starting on December 6, 2013, C.L. began harassing A.B. with cyberbullying. He used test messages, emails, and postings on social media. His intent was to cause fear and humiliation to harm her. He used obscene language, called her a “bitch” 25 times and a “ho” 27 times, falsely accused her of infidelity, and tried to persuade A.B. to commit suicide. C.L. entered a guilty plea for all these offences.
On April 22, 2014, C.L. threatened A.B. with a knife held to her throat, saying he should kill her. C.L. entered a guilty plea for this assault.
The court sentenced C.L. to six month’s deferred custody followed by 15 months probation. The court found that the cyberbullying behavior of C.L. went beyond the provisions under the Cyber-safety Act to be direct crimes under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This warranted a full social media ban under Section 55(H).
Under the Section 55(H) of the Canadian Youth Criminal Justice Act, the judge has complete discretion in making a ruling that includes social media bans.
Here is the law applied by the judge in this case, used to determine the proper sentencing:
(h) comply with any other conditions set out in the order that the youth justice court considers appropriate, including conditions for securing the young person’s good conduct and for preventing the young person from repeating the offence or committing other offences; and…”
In the case summary, the judge used the analogy that if a crime is committed using a motor vehicle, then a person should lose driving privileges. The judge concluded the same should happen with abuses of social media, in that they should lose the privilege of using it.
The judge ruled a complete ban for C.L. on the use of social media during the six-months of custody and the 15 months of probation, that followed the custody, which included:
- Deletion of all Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts within 24-hours following the ruling.
- No access permitted to those social media sites or any other social media for the entire term of custody plus probation, which equals 21 months.
- A probation violation that will cause additional custody includes using any social media for any purpose or registering new accounts under any fake names or aliases during those 21 months.
- The probation officer should conduct random inspections and checks for unauthorized social media use.
- Failure to report social media use to the probation officer, will be a violation of probation.
- A two-year weapons prohibition for all kinds of weapons.
Case Against Joseph Lee – Ruling during March, 2015
(while the Nova Scotia Cyber-safety Act was in force)
The Director of Public Safety in Nov Scotia filed the legal action against Joseph Lee. The request was to grant a prevention order against Joseph Lee to stop him from cyberbullying his sister, Veronica Murray.
The case cited the provisions of the Cyber-safety Act, which was provincial law in Nova Scotia at that time.
The mother of both Ms. Veronica Murray and Mr. Joseph Lee had terminal cancer. Ms. Murray, who is a nurse, moved into her mother’s home to take care of her during her illness. The mother died on June 8, 2014. Ms. Murray was the sole beneficiary of her mother’s will.
After her mother’s death, Ms. Murray decided to move into the home of her mother, along with her husband and her two children. Mr. Lee began his cyberbullying attacks using emails, text messaging and postings on Facebook, shortly after Ms. Murray moved in to her mother’s home.
Mr. Lee sent an email shortly after the mother’s death to ask about the will. On June 21, 2014, Ms Murray sent Mr. Lee electronic scans of the documents. Ms. Murray asked Mr. Lee to call her to discuss the disposition of their mother’s personal items and if there was anything specific that Mr. Lee or Mr. Lee’s daughters wanted of the mother’s things. Mr. Lee said he preferred to communicate by email.
On June 24, 2014, Mr. Lee sent Ms. Murray an email saying he would be contesting the will.
On June 25, 2014 by email, he demanded that Ms. Murray not change or dispose of anything in the mother’s house, until the will went through probate procedures in the Canadian courts. In a second email, he demanded information about the mother’s bank accounts and debts. He also asked for a set of keys to the mother’s house for him and their two other brothers, saying he has as much right to the family home as she does, while the will is in probate.
The cyberbullying began on June 25, 2014 with a text message from Mr. Lee to Ms. Murray, which said:
“You are dead to me. Get your lying manipulative abusive ass out of that fucking house or I will send the RCMP.” (The RCMP is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is the national police force of Canada.)
Using text messages Mr. Lee accused Ms. Murray of fraud, breach of trust, and elder abuse.
Mr. Lee went public with his cyberbullying on June 26, 2014, by posting the following message on Facebook:
“If you do not want people to disown you and out you as a lying manipulating sleazy sack of shit, then please do not be a sleazy lying manipulative sack of shit.”
On June 29, 2014, Mr. Lee sent a barrage of emails saying he was going to tell her employer, the Cape Breton District Health Authority, of her alleged misdeeds in the handling of the affairs of the mother’s estate. He wanted to damage her reputation as a registered nurse. However, the next day Mr. Lee changed his mind.
Nevertheless, Mr. Lee continued to use emails, which threatened police action, and made more public Facebook postings, such as this one on August 9, 2014:
“Does anybody out there in Facebook land think it is ok for the caregiver of a 67 year old lady dying of brain tumours & loaded up with narcotics, take that 67 year old lady into the lawyers office days (literally days) before the lady dies of those same brain tumours and have the lady sign everything she owns (and some stuff she didn’t own) over to the caregiver???? Because that is exactly what my sister did And [sic], any of you cowards in my family that read this and then go “tsk tsk” behind my back and leave my Mother dead and undefended should be as ashamed of yourselves as Veronica should be.”
Because of her brother’s cyberbullying threats, Ms. Murray feared for her own safety and the safety of her family. She contemplated suicide and thought about giving in to her brother to give him all of the mother’s estate, just so he would leave her alone. She feared, even if she gave in, her brother would not stop tormenting her. For all these reasons, she finally reached out for help from the police.
On August 13, 2014, Ms. Murray filed a formal legal complaint with the CyberSCAN unit. The CyberSCAN unit is the police department in Nova Scotia tasked with investigating crimes of cyberbullying. Investigator Lisa Greenough received the case assignment.
On Sept. 5, 2014, Ms. Greenough called Mr. Lee in an official capacity. She advised Mr. Lee his actions constituted illegal cyberbullying. She asked him to cease his actions and meet with her at the police department. They continued to communicate; however, Mr. Lee refused to change his behavior or meet at the police office.
On September 11, 2014, Mr. Lee posted the following message on Facebook:
“Lisa Greenough from cyber bullying task force, you are as full of shit as my sister Veronica…. And you can both go fuck yourselves…. P.s. I am sure both of you snoopy arrogant deceitful lying shit bags are reading this… go fuck yourselves!!!!”
On September 11, 2014, Ms. Murray provided a written statement to the CyberSCAN unit saying that she could not eat or sleep properly, that she was afraid to be alone, and that she was afraid to stay in her mother’s house.
The cyberbullying took a toll on her relationships with her husband and her two sons. The extent of the public humiliation was clear, when she went to a visit her chiropractor during July 2014, who said, “So, you’re all over Facebook.” She had never mentioned the matter to her chiropractor prior to this.
On September 19, 2014, Mr. Lee came into the CyberSCAN offices to discuss an informal resolution that he stop cyberbullying Ms. Murray and remove his Facebook posts about her. At first, Mr. Lee refused to cooperate, but then on Sept. 25, 2014 the removal of most of the Facebook posts happened. Ms Greenough advised Ms. Murray of the status and told Ms. Murray the case investigation was now over.
On September 26, 2014, the CyberSCAN unit informed Mr. Lee in writing by a letter that Mr. Lee’s actions were illegal cyberbullying and a court action for prevention would occur if he continued such cyberbullying in the future.
On October 6, 2014, Mr. Lee posted this message on Facebook:
“I said my sister was a lying, manipulative fraudulent thief….. The Cyberscan people said I really should apologize, so here goes, and it is heartfelt and sincere. I am truly deeply and sincerely sorry that my sister is a lying, manipulative, fraudulent thief.”
Later in October, he posted on Facebook that wanted his sister to suffer with disease and said, “I absolutely hate her with every fiber of my being.”
On February 3, 2015, because of Mr. Lee’s continued cyberbullying the Director of Public Safety brought a prevention action against Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee, who opted for self-representation during the case, did not appear at the hearing when the judge gave the ruling.
On March 5, 2015, the Honorable Justice Arthur LeBlanc published the ruling. The ruling found that Mr. Lee engaged in cyberbullying according to the laws of Nova Scotia. The judge ruled that “Mr. Lee repeatedly sent messages and made posts that he either intended or reasonably ought to have expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to Ms. Murray’s health, emotional well-being, self-esteem and reputation.”
The court noted that Mr. Lee’s dispute over the will of his mother did not justify his action and there are proper legal proceedings under the Canadian Wills Act as remedies for such disputes.
The court granted the cyberbullying prevention request made by the Director of Public Safety and fined Mr. Lee the court costs of CA$750.
Violation of a Prevention Order
Cyberbullies who violate Canadian courts’ prevention orders are subject to having their electronic equipment confiscated. This includes computers, laptops, tablets devices and mobile phones. They can be fined up to CA$5,000 and/or sentenced to jail for up to six months.
Case Status Update
On December 11, 2015, the Supreme Court of the province of Nova Scotia repealed the Cyber-safety Act overturning this ruling.
Legal Cases about Cyberbullying in Manitoba Canada
MediasmartsMediasmarts reports that in 2013 a new Manitoba law against bullying went into effect that specifically includes cyberbullying. The law makes Manitoba parents responsible if their children participate in cyberbullying and the parents know about it, yet do nothing to stop it. The law allows judges full discretion to issue protection orders that keep a cyberbully from contacting a victim by any means. Manitoba judges have the power to confiscate electronic equipment (computers, laptops, and mobile phones etc.) and enforce a complete ban on the use of any digital communications. Cyberbullying now qualifies as a tort in Manitoba, which means victims can sue cyberbullies and/or their parents in civil court.
The Winnipeg Free press said that the Manitoba legislature was careful to avoid the constitutional problems experienced by lawmakers in Nova Scotia with the Cyber-safety Act.
R. v. N.G. et al
(Maximum sentence given under the Youth Criminal Justice Act)
The case happened in the Youth Court in Manitoba. In Manitoba, underage persons in this case, including the defendant, are only identified by the initials of their name.
The R. v. N.G. et al case went to the Supreme Court on appeal because the lower court sentenced the youth in this case to three-years.
The law for juveniles in Canada is the Youth Criminal Justice Act. This was the law applied in this case.
A teenage girl was the victim in this case. She received a contact via Facebook from a male, Z.M., who lived in the same community as the victim, but they had never met in person. By threatening her, Z.M. forced the young girl to send photos of her breasts.
After getting the first photos, Z.M. threatened her more with revealing them to her friends if she did not give him more nude photos of her breasts and vagina.
Z.M. was joined by two brothers C.J.G. and N.L.G. in harassing the young girl. The three males acted together to systematically break down the young girl over a period of five days, by maintaining constant contact, day and night, through various forms of social media.
During those days, they alternated between flattery and abuse, demanding more explicit photos from the girl, including ones of sexual acts they wanted her to do, like sticking fingers into her vagina to break her hymen or inserting objects there and photographing them.
One of the brothers sent a photo of a penis, telling her to “suck it,” and asked her to have sex with him in person.
The cyberbullying was intense, 24-hours non-stop, and relentless. The investigation found thousands of lines of communication between the cyberbullies and the victim over a five-day period. Around 90% of the text concerned sexual content.
After blackmailing the young girl into sending sexually explicit photos of herself, including those showing her face, the males distributed the photos to other members of the community. Some of the images went to students attending her school.
The young girl became despondent from the psychological abuse. She stopped grooming herself and stopped eating. She could not sleep properly and became seriously depressed.
The radical change in her behavior caused her parents to notice the problem. They confiscated her mobile device, found the blackmail information and the images. Her parents reported the matter to the police.
The Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s sentencing decision, but corrected the length of the sentence to be in alignment with the maximum penalty of two-years permitted under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The final sentence in this case was 12-months in secure custody, six months of community supervision, and six months of supervised probation thereafter.
Legal Cases about Cyberbullying in Alberta Canada
The Education Act in Alberta underwent revision in 2012 as noted by Mediasmarts, to include provisions against bullying and cyberbullying by students. Additionally, students in Alberta who observe cyberbullying must report the activities to school authorities or they face disciplinary action, which includes possible expulsion for failing to report bullying of other students.Mediasmarts, to include provisions against bullying and cyberbullying by students. Additionally, students in Alberta who observe cyberbullying must report the activities to school authorities or they face disciplinary action, which includes possible expulsion for failing to report bullying of other students.
Prosecution of cyberbullying by adults in Alberta follows the standards of the national Canadian laws.
Case against Daniel Thomas Mackie – Sentenced in May 2013
The laws applied in the R. v. Mackie case covered the violations of 39 criminal counts that included Internet luring, extortion, accessing and distributing child pornography, invitation to sexual touching, identity fraud/impersonation, and unauthorized use of a computer with the intent to commit an offence.
Daniel Tomas Mackie, a 26-year old man, worked as a security guard at the Calgary Courts Centre. Over a period of five years, he preyed on child victims that he met online using both his personal computer at home and his work computer.
His crimes consisted of threatening children to get them to send him explicit photos and using human engineering hacks to get passwords to their social media accounts. Once he gained access to their social media accounts, he would use them to gain personal information about the children from their friends. He would use control over their accounts to exhort more photographs from the children and demand they appear naked on webcam for him. He also set up fake social media accounts to entrap children by pretending to be another child.
Once he had comprising photos of a child he would threaten to publish them, or send them to a child’s friends if they did not give him more photos of them posing in their underwear or naked. He had more than twenty victims of boys and girls from the ages of 11 to 16 years-old.
Due to multiple complaints received by the Southern Alberta Internet Child Exploitation unit, the police interviewed Mackie in 2008. Mackie denied the allegations. The officer conducting the investigation told Mackie if he was in contact with underage children on the Internet for sexual exploitation purposes, it was a crime and he should stop. Mackie did not stop.
In 2011, after the authorities collected enough evidence, they arrested Mackie and charged him with 39 crimes. He pled guilty to all 39 counts.
Based on the heart-wrenching psychological damage described by the children in their victim’s statements submitted to the court, the judge sentenced Mackie to 11 years in prison.
Legal Cases about Cyberbullying in Ontario Canada
MediasmartsMediasmarts says the Education Act in Ontario specifically includes cyberbullying and requires schools to have a formal anti-bullying program to protect all students. The law requires a safe environment for learning. It prohibits bullying of any kind on the school premises and at school activities. Bullying is also prohibited if it happens anywhere else, including cyberbullying, when it has a negative impact on the school climate.
In 2016, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice recognized a new law that makes public disclosure of embarrassing private facts a tort. Victims of this can now sue in civil court for damages. This includes unauthorized public release of private revealing photos or “sex tapes.”
Expelling an Eight-Grader
(Expulsion of a student upheld on appeal during November 2008)
In the R.T. v. Durham Catholic District School Board case, an eight-grader received expulsion from school for cyberbullying.
The law applied by the school board in this case was the Education Act, as amended, in Ontario.
Mrs. R.T. is the mother of the 13-year old, eight-grade student V.K. who was expelled for cyberbullying others students attending a school under the administration of the Durham Catholic District School Board.
V.K. used aliases to set up Facebook accounts and went online to become friends with other students attending her school. V.K. used similar names and profiles of other students to be able to post on their Facebook accounts. V.L. set up 11 accounts on Facebook for cyberbullying purposes and used some of them to impersonate other students. V.K. used Facebook postings to make death threats.
Examples of the postings are:
- …U DON’T WANT ME TO GET MAD BECAUSE THEN ILL KILL YOU RIGHT IN UR SLEEP OR AT SCHOOL ON MONDAY.”, and
- “ ….I am gonna come to school on Monday and kick ur ass. im gonna kill u. ok? ok!”
After receiving complaints about the death threats, an investigation determined that the offender was the student V.K. The principal of the school recommended the expulsion of the student to the school board. The school board has the statutory right to expel students under subsection 311.3(6) from the Education Act. The student was expelled in May 2008. The mother appealed the decision.
The school board upheld the expulsion because the mother admitted the student committed the cyberbullying acts, including making the death threats, which seriously frightened other students. Additionally, the school board noted that if V.K. returned to the school after it became known that she was the one who made the cyberbullying death threats that it would not be a safe climate at the school for V.K. either. The result was the expulsion held and V.K. went to another school.
Canadian cyberbullying statistics and cyberbullying facts reported on Canada.com showed increases in cyberbullying. This trend became more known due to the widespread publicity about high-profile cyberbullying cases in the news. Subsequently, Canada provinces enacted new laws or amended existing laws because of the examples of tragedies, such the sad stories of Amanda Todd, a teen who committed suicide due to bullying, and others.
These high profile cases caused public outrage, which propelled the Canadian national and provincial governments to address the types of bullying occurring in Canadian schools, workplace bullying, and workplace cyberbullying.
Canadian takes a strong political stance against cyberbullying of youth and bullying at school from primary bullying to bullying at the university level. Nova Scotia passed the strictest law against cyberbullying, which unfortunately was struck down by the Supreme Court for its impact on the freedom of expression. A new attempt at a modified cyberbullying law in Nova Scotia is underway. Canada still has a firm commitment to prevent cyberbullying and punish those who engage in this illegal behavior.
Cyberbullying in Canada — What is the Solution?
Cyberbullying in Canada has reached epic proportions while a debate centres on the country’s current cyberbullying legislation. A controversy exists as opponents of Canada’s new cyberbullying bill claim that the government is using cyberbullying to push through other unrelated issues when the entire focus of the bill should be placed on the phenomenon of cyberbullying itself.
How to find a solution to cyberbullying in Canada?
Interactive websites such as social media websites or gaming chat rooms, along with cell phone text messaging and other electronic media, can sometimes attract mentally unstable individuals that prey on the vulnerability of children. Cyberbullying has become a serious problem that has far-reaching effects. Derogatory and harassing text messages or Internet posts made to and about children can have deep psychological effects such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Many children are not emotionally equipped to deal with bullying, so remain passive as the emotional distress builds up, sometimes leading to severe consequences.
A Solution to Cyber Bullying in Canada: What Can Teachers Do?
Teachers often find children who have been the victims of cyberbullying suddenly grow quieter in their classes. They show a marked lack of enthusiasm and have difficulty concentrating and participating in schoolwork or other school-related activities. Subsequently, their academic success becomes jeopardized. There are a number of things that educators can do to help solve the problem of cyberbullying in Canada.
- Instruct students about safe uses of social media
- Develop concise policies that have to do with student online safety
- Work closely with parents to solve the problem of cyberbullying in schools and at home
- Familiarize themselves more closely with online environments
- Engage in staff training workshops to address the issue
Solutions to Cyberbullying in Canada: What Can Parents Do?
Parents should be on the lookout for any symptoms that cyberbullying has occurred toward their children. They can help by making themselves more available and interacting with their children more on a more personal level. It helps to show an interest in how one’s children feel and to encourage them to express their feelings, especially when it comes to something as serious as cyberbullying. Children need to know that their parents are their allies.
Parents can become proactive in taking preventive measures to create a home environment that enables their children to safely reduce the chances of being cyberbullied. The parents can offer protection in the form of supervision of their children’s social media interactions and to offer them a sense of comfort.
There are a number of rules that parents can put into place that can also help. For instance, children should be taught not to give out personal information about themselves to strangers online. They should be taught not to give out their personal passwords to any third parties other than their parents. Parents should, however, have their children’s passwords at all times.
Parents can sit down with their children and show them how to identify emails that might arrive from child predators. They should be encouraged not to open any email from any person with whom they have personal knowledge. It is a good idea to ask children to reserve suspicious emails for the parents to open later.
Parents are also advised to inform themselves about the root causes of cyberbullying and why it occurs. Bullying, in any form, can often mean a cry for help from someone, often-another child, who was once the victim of bullying him or her. Helping one’s children understand this element of the equation can often help parents stop bullying before it even begins.
Cyberbullying in Canada In The News
A special advisory committee on cyberbullying has made a number of recommendations to the Canadian government that involve a plan to promote awareness about the harm that cyberbullying can cause children, and make parents and students aware of the relevant programs that exist for parents and children alike. There is a movement afoot to assure that these programs are available in every region of Canada.
Cyberbullying in Canada has highlighted the need for these resources to help children cope with bullying online. Kids Help Phone exists for that purpose. In 2007, Elizabeth Lines, representing Kids Help Phone, administered a study of close to 2500 students between the ages of 13 and 15.
Over 70% of these children had previously reported being bullied via their computers, while close to 45% of them admitted to having bullied another person at least one time in their lives. This study suggested that a large number of children do not understand the impossibility of controlling the flow of information that one can access with their computers and that they do not comprehend that cyberspace is not personal.
Parents and teachers that work together to raise awareness about cyberbullying are taking the first step toward solving the problem. Elizabeth Lines, “Cyberbullying: Our Kids’ New Reality,” Kids Help Phone (April 2007)
Cyber Bullying Statistics in Canada
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police define bullying as a situation in which “someone purposely and repeatedly says or does hurtful things to someone else.” All types of bullying show an imbalance of power between the bully, who thinks he is superior, and the victim who begins to feel inferior even if that isn’t true. Most likely the bully suffers from low self-esteem and attempts to make himself feel better by putting down everyone else. Discover the latest cyberbullying statistics in Canada Today.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police identify cyberbullying as using “communication technologies such as the Internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others.” A cyberbully hides behind a computer, gaming or telephone screen as he threatens his victims. Often, he can remain anonymous or falsely identify himself. Unfortunately with advanced technology, you can never be 100 percent certain of the person on the other end of a text message, social media post or e-mail. A cyberbully may even identify himself as you when he bullies someone else.
One of the main concerns with cyberbullying is that it doesn’t stop when you are out of sight of the bully. The bullies reach their victims at work, school and at home. Unlike in years past when bullies had to be in the presence of their victims, the home is no longer a safety zone for the bully. However, with electronic advancements, the cyberbully has access to his victims 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A bully’s goal is to harm, intimidate and possibly endanger his victims. He uses one of the easiest forms of bullying as often people are harsher when they are not facing to face with someone. The bullying may simply be telling you how awful you look, dress or smell to the extremes of threatening to meet you after school or work to harm you or steal from you.
Examples of cyberbullying include:
- Sending mean, threatening or hurtful text messages or e-mails
- Excluding victims from social gatherings or social media web-sites
- Posting unflattering or ugly photographs without permission
- Creating false personas using the victim’s information
- Spreading rumours or gossip through text messages
- Posting personal or private information on social media or other web-sites
- Inappropriately tagging victims in photographs
- Circulating harmful texts to keep the victim out of social circles
- Tricking victims into giving out personal information
Cyberbullying statistics in Canada
Canadian bullying victims, who are bullied at least once a week, have a greater chance of experiencing dizziness, headaches, stomach aches, backaches and anxiety. Unfortunately, these issues can follow people into their adult lives unless treated by a mental health professional.
Statistics on cyberbullying show that bullies and their victims are more likely to use alcohol and drugs. Bullies are also more likely to participate in criminal activity. 60 percent of elementary school bullies have criminal records by the time they are 24 years old.
Other cyberbullying statistics in Canada show that victims are between 1.7 and 7.5 times more likely to feel alone, nervous, sad, sleepless, fatigued and helpless. Plus, cyberbullying victims are likely to attempt or succeed at suicide. Bullying also leaves victims with low self-esteem, academic challenges, aggressive behaviours and social withdrawal.
Surprisingly, Canadian 13-year-olds have the ninth highest rate of bullying compared to 35 other countries. One in three Canadian students reports being bullied recently. These students are at a risk for suicidal thoughts, regardless of the frequency of the bullying incidents. This and other cyberbullying statistics Canada-specific are alarming and need to be addressed.
These 13-year-olds are not alone. For Canadian middle-school and high-school students, between grades six and ten, 2 to 8 percent said they were bullied at least once a week with 4 to 10 percent of this group claiming to be the bullies.
The bullies should be concerned about how their behaviour affects their future. Research shows that bullies are:
- Do not know the difference between right and wrong behaviour
- Suffer from delinquency
- Are more apt to have a substance abuse disorder
- Have an increased school drop-out number
- Experience academic difficulties
- Feel extreme aggression
- Have difficulties when dating or in relationships
- Are often victims of bullying
Other Canadian bullying statistics include:
- 47 percent of Canadian parents have a child who has been bullied.
- 16 percent of Canadian parents report their child experiences frequent bullying.
- Girls are more likely than boys to experience cyberbullying.
- 73 percent of cyberbullying victims report receiving threatening or aggressive texts, e-mails or instant messages.
- Cyberbullying is the number one type of low-level violence that occurs in schools.
- Between 6 and 8 percent of victims avoid school due to bullying.
- Canadians aged 18 and over show 7 percent of these adults have been cyberbullying victims.
- Victims who are not heterosexual are three times as likely to be bullied than their heterosexual counterparts.
- Victims have difficulties concentrating on school work and are more likely to drop out of school.
- Kids Help Phone’s 2007 survey of 2,474 students aged 13 to 15, in which 70 percent of those surveyed said they were cyberbullied. 44 percent said they had been a cyberbully.
- The results from a 2010 research project focused on Toronto Junior High and High Schools, “Cyber Bullying Behaviors Among Middle and High School Students,” in which 49 ½ percent said they were cyberbullied and most did not report the bullying.
- In 2008, the Canadian Teachers Federation reported that 34 percent of Canadians knew a student who had been the victim of cyberbullying.
- One in five Canadians acknowledged that teachers were being cyberbullied.
- Approximately one in ten Canadians know someone who has been the victim of a cyberbully.
Unfortunately, as cyberbullying statistics grow, so does human nature’s protective response. According to research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for Canada, those who have access to the internet and electronic communications are often unable to tell the difference between cyberbullying, harassment and harmless jokes or teasing. Many teens do not think that cyberbullying is a big deal.
The cyberbullying statistics do not only apply to school-aged children, although that is where a lot of law enforcement concentration exists. Canadian schools are designed to be safe learning environments and when that safety is jeopardized, laws against cyberbullying are enforced. Regardless of school policies, laws and social customs, the cyberbullying statistics are not reducing, which indicates that bullies are efficient at hiding their behaviour and/or their identities.
When adult males and females were asked about their school years, a report released in 2007 show that 38 percent of men and 30 percent of women reported being the victims of bullying. The bullying did not stop when these people left the schoolyard. Workplace cyberbullying continues to occur and in the Canadian workplace, 40 percent of employees report being bullied on a weekly basis.
Cyberbullying can be considered an illegal act. Especially if the bullying involves threats, physical harm, repeated tormenting or harassment, distributing sexual or nude photographs, and bullying that involves a hate crime such as those based on faith, race or ethnicity. All bullying needs to be reported to local law enforcement immediately, especially if you’re experiencing a life-threatening situation.
If you suspect your child is the victim of cyberbullying, pay attention to any warning signs such as:
- Social withdrawal
- Academic failings
- Lack of interest in previously engaging activities
- Avoidance of electronic communication- this is a key and is a huge sign of cyberbullying
Stop the Bullying
According to the Canadian Red Cross, 85 percent of bullying occurs in the presence of others. This may not be the same as cyberbullying, but most people receive texts and e-mails on their smartphones and are typically around friends, family or co-workers.
If you are in the presence of someone being cyberbullied step in to stop the bullying. 60 percent of the time, bullies will stop their behaviour in 10 seconds if someone calls them out on it.
If you or someone you know is the victim of cyberbullying, collect the facts. Save or screenshot any and all communication from the bully. Do not respond to any texts or e-mails. Most of the time when a bully does not get a response, he stops the behaviour. Do not forward or repeat any of the bully’s messages.
Keep a record of all communication and contact your internet or phone service provider to stop contact with the bully. If the situation escalates or the bully does not stop his intimidating and harassing behaviour, seek advice from your local law enforcement. Contact website authorities to remove harmful videos or photographs. Review your school’s bullying policy if the bully is a classmate. Talk with your human resource department if you are being cyberbullied by a co-worker.
While you cannot tell if a friend or acquaintance will turn into a cyberbully, you can avoid giving out your personal information to strangers or anonymous, online acquaintances. Do not friend anyone on social media sites who make you feel uncomfortable, or insecure. Also, teach your children to avoid posting their personal information such as their phone number or address.
The easiest way to avoid cyberbullying is to avoid contact with the bully. If he contacts you through text message, ask your carrier to block his number. If he reaches you through e-mails, block his contact information. If he reaches out through microphones on gaming systems, avoid using the microphone and delete him from your contacts. If he continues to seek you out, go to a law enforcement officer with your facts and let the officer deal with the situation.
Cyberbullying is not something to deal with on your own. It is illegal and harmful and results in punishments. Hopefully, with stricter punishments, Canadians can avoid situations like that of Amanda Todd, who was the victim of a two-year cyber-bullying attack. The young girl suffered years of torment, which led to drug and alcohol use and eventually the taking of her own life.
Exploring Cyberbullying Articles in Canada
Bullying is a frequent, repeated attempt to destroy another person. It is a very personal attack and can occur at school, at work or at the home. A bully may be someone that you know or can often be a stranger who is impersonating another. Bullies attack because they lack self-confidence, are often victims of drug and alcohol abuse, are extremely aggressive and have poor academic performance. Typically, bullies have highly developed social skills as they have the ability to manipulate and access many different social groups.
Bullying may be difficult to identify. You may think you are the victim of abuse or that the bully is simply having a bad day. To help you identify a bullying incident, The Canadian Council on Learning separates bullying into four categories:
You, your children, and many others, according to the number of cyberbullying articles available on the internet, have been victims of one or more of these types of bullying. Most victims suffer in silence and the bully continues to abuse. Bullying articles are often filled with victims’ feelings of shame or that they somehow “caused” the bully to attack. This is not true! If you or someone you love are the victims of bullying you have done nothing wrong. You are the victim of a malicious individual who delights in causing pain to others.
Possibly the easiest to identify, physical bullying includes such things as:
- Pulling hair
- Pushing down
This type of bullying is seen frequently on school playgrounds. Articles on bullying contain stories of many children being “picked on” for not fitting in with the rest of the students for reasons such as physical height, weight, hair colour or intellect. If a student has a mental illness or learning disability, the bully may be even more aggressive at the perceived weakness.
If you see or are the victim of physical bullying, seek help immediately before the situation becomes life-threatening. Do not provoke the bully or retaliate; try to remove yourself from the situation and contact law enforcement professionals.
Relational bullying may fall under the category of childish behaviour, or be considered a rite of passage. This type of bullying is not as easy to identify, but articles on bullying that contain relational issues, all revolve around the same theme: social torment. Examples of relational bullying include:
- Excluding one from a social group or clique
- Spreading untrue rumours
- Telling lies in an effort to get others to avoid a person
- Gossiping behind one’s back
- Writing and sending nasty or threatening letters either from one person or a group
Bullying news articles that tell stories of relational bullying often tell tales of this repeated behaviour by those who feel superior to another. The person being bullied experiences feelings of sadness, depression, anxiety and suicide. This can lead to isolation and loneliness which can have years of traumatic results. Victims of bullying often require counselling to move past the incident.
Verbal bullying, according to the Canadian Council on Learning, is also fairly easy to identify. This occurs most often in the schools and affects the learning environment. Victims of bullying tend to experience low self-esteem, drug and alcohol use, early withdrawal from school, insecurity and aggression. The Canadian Council on Learning worries about the effect these characteristics have on the social and economic status of Canada. An article on bullying by victims of verbal bullying may show experiences such as:
- Calling names
- Imitating in a mocking manner
- Yelling insults
It is a school’s responsibility to provide a safe learning environment; therefore school officials need to have strict policies on how to respond to bullying situations.
Electronic bullying is also known as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying articles show tremendous physical and emotional consequences. The risks for suicide in this category are increased, especially for young teenage girls who are the victims of exploitation. For example, a bullying news article about one Canadian teenager, tells her story of committing suicide after a photograph of her sexual assault circulated through the internet. A cyberbullying article does not have a positive outcome. The bullies hide behind a computer screen or cell phone and manipulate threaten and damage their victims.
Examples of cyberbullying include:
- Sending false e-mails with the victim’s name
- Creating false online personas
- Spreading rumours
- Excluding victims from social groups
- Spreading personal information, pictures or e-mails
- Falsely tagging someone in a picture
Cyberbullying articles tell tales of bullying occurring through many electronic modes of communication such as:
Articles on cyberbullying may be difficult to interpret as bullying. Some Canadian officials agree to say that without physical evidence of bullying, it is harder to prove. Fortunately, Justice Minister Peter MacKay supports the fight against cyberbullying and has proposed a bill to help law enforcement officers track and catch cyberbullies. MacKay states that this cyberbullying law “Would give police a greater ability to investigate incidents of cyberbullying by giving courts the right to seize computers, phones and other devices used in an alleged offence.”
Offenders could spend up to five years in prison if convicted of cyberbullying. The law was originally designed to protect children from predators and fell under the child-porn prevention category, but in 2013 was expanded to include more types of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying articles were reviewed for a 2005 study that was published in The European Journal of Public Health. Researchers found that students, who were bullied weekly, experienced an increase in headaches, stomach pains, backaches and dizziness. Plus, they were between 1.7 and 7.5 times more likely to feel lonely, nervous, depressed, and experience insomnia, fatigue and helplessness.
Unfortunately, Canada has the ninth highest rate of bullying among 13-year-olds, in comparison to 35 other countries. In 2007, adult males and females reminisced about their school years and reported that 38 percent and 30 percent, respectively, were victims of bullying. Parents of school-aged children who had been bullied were approximately 47 percent and 16 percent of this total fell under the “frequent bullying” category.
In the middle school and high school grades between sixth and tenth, 2 to 8 percent of students said they were bullied at least once a week. These numbers could supply the stories that would more than fill a bullying essay. On the other hand, between 4 and 10 percent of this same group of students reported being the bully.
Cyberbullying articles that contain stories of gender confusion, or gay and lesbian victims, are also increasing in number. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research report that those who are not heterosexual are three times more likely to be bullied than their heterosexual classmates or co-workers.
As Canadians age, cyberbullying articles can tell stories of at least 7 percent of the over-18 population, who admit to being cyberbullied at least once in their adult life. 73 percent of this cyberbullying occurred through text messages or threatening e-mails. In the Canadian workplace, 40 percent of workers say they are bullied on a weekly basis.
Canadian bullying essays are written from many different perspectives. Authors can be workers such as nurses who report being bullied in the medical environment. Many bullying articles are written about bullying that occurs on the school grounds.
Most of these are from the student’s or parent’s perspective. However, bullying of teachers also occurs as many are berated and threatened by their principals if they do not adjust to current trends. Articles about bullying may also contain cyberbullying stories written by those who have experienced threats, meanness and lies within the internet or social media world.
In an online article about bullying, the story of Canadian Amanda Todd, who was the victim of a two-year cyberbullying saga, ended in suicide. The young girl suffered years of torment, which led to drug and alcohol use and eventually the taking of her own life. Todd’s story which began in 2012 continues into 2014 as reports of her perpetrator being prosecuted continue.
How many more articles about bullying and cyberbullying stories need to be reported before officials put an end to this torment? Children, teenagers, men, and women suffer on a daily basis from this physical and mental torture.
What to do
If you or someone you love is the victim of bullying, consider the following:
- Immediately call the local emergency system if the situation is life-threatening.
- Save all facts for law enforcement such as texts, e-mails, chats, photos, letters or messages.
- Contact the school district if the incidents are occurring at school. Contact your human resource department if you are being bullied at work. Bring your evidence with you.
- Talk to the school’s liaison police officer if possible. Contact your local law enforcement officer it this is not a school bullying situation.
- Talk with the school’s guidance counsellor for your child or set up an appointment with a qualified therapist or psychologist for yourself.
- Do not initiate any contact with the bully- do not respond to texts, messages or e-mails.
- Avoid leaving your own electronic trail such as communicating with others via e-mail or posting messages on the internet about your bullying incidents.
- Contact any websites and social media administrators to remove any false, ugly, gossiping or malicious postings, videos, images or tags.
- Report the bullying to the involved social media sites.
- Block the bully from your phone, e-mail, social media or gaming systems.
- Ask your phone carrier to block any calls or texts from the bully’s number and also to track all contact from the bully.
- As soon as possible, talk to your local law enforcement for details on how to handle the situation.
Protect yourself from cyberbullying by:
- Not using your last name.
- Do not post the name of your home town.
- Limit the number of pictures you post and avoid posting anything sexy.
- Do not friend those you don’t know, especially if their contact makes you uncomfortable.
- Do not post your phone number, e-mail or other contact information.
- Keep your settings private and only share information with trusted family and friends- those you know will not spread your information or pictures throughout the cyber world.
The Cyber Bullying Canada Version
With our technology growing so rapidly it is no wonder that often the technology and crimes related to outpace the laws that we have in place. While there are plenty of laws that prohibit the harassment of a person in the face to face nature, there are still few that have to do with the ever-growing problem that is cyberbullying. It is important that when we look at cyberbullying in any area, not just in Canada, we first understand a few basics.
What is Cyber Bullying
Put very simply cyberbullying is the use of any technology to harass, bully, defame, degrade, or otherwise bother an individual. This can be something like harassing emails, angry texts, and even sending messages that call others names or make threats. In most cases, cyberbullying is limited to social media which makes it a horrible issue for younger teens and young adults to deal with.
In most cases, those that are affected by cyberbullying the world over are teens that are between the ages of 12-19. These individuals are often pushed past their breaking point and are often likely to take their own lives to escape those that are bullying them. Though bullying used to be something that was limited to school and public spaces, the internet and social media have given it a way into the homes of anyone that is being tormented.
Cyber Bullying Canada
In Canada, as in many jurisdictions, the number of cases related to cyberbullying is growing each and every day. There are new cases every week of teens that have taken their own lives or lashed out against others in an effort to hide the pain and escape from bullies. There is often no escape however as nearly every home in Canada has a computer with access to the internet.
For those that do not have a computer, cell phones are widely accessible and many have access to social media. In 2007 Kids Help Phone conducted a survey of people aged 13-15. Around 70% reported that they had been bullied either in person or online and an astounding 44% admitted to bullying someone online at least once.
The same study found that many children that participated in the survey did not know that all the information you put on the internet is public property and that the messages they send to one another are not personal. This is a very disturbing fact and makes it much clearer why children are so eager to share information online without thinking of the consequences. In 2011 Kids Help Phone followed up and found that cyberbullying is most common on social media followed by text messages, then by emails.
In another study named, “Cyber Bullying Behaviors Among Middle and High School Students,” Toronto based high schools and middle schools were surveyed. They found that 34% of Canadian students had been bullied online and most did not report it to anyone that could help them. One would think that teachers would be safe from cyberbullying but that is not the case at all. In a study done by the Canadian Teachers Federation a poll found that one in five Canadians were aware of teachers that had suffered the same fate.
In a study conducted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, it was discovered that those that use the internet frequently for communication purposes are far less sensitive to online joking and teasing than those that may not use the internet nearly as much. It is alarming to think that children have such ready access to a platform from which anyone anywhere can attack them verbally and emotionally making them feel the need to take their own lives.
Cyber Bullying Statistics Canada
There is a great deal of studies done each year in relation to cyberbullying and other forms of harassment and having a basic idea of the findings may allow you to see the state of things as they stand.
- 94% of Canadian youths have a Facebook account
- 87% have a cell phone by the 10th grade
- 7/10 of websites that they visit will be social media or related to social media
- Most students admit that they do not think when they cyberbully, pressing send is easier than confronting someone in person
- Cyberbullying is seen as a way to anonymously harass someone
- 25% of Canadian youths admit to cyberbullying
- 1 in 3 reports that they have been a victim of cyberbullying
- Nearly half of all Canadian youths surveyed admit to being involved in bullying in some form.
- 20% of students admit that they have been bullied each month, and over 60% of those surveyed admit that the bullying has been going on for at least a year
- More than half of the people that are involved in the bullying claim they are just joking and kidding around
These statistics show us that cyberbullying is far more widespread than anyone can actually imagine and as such it is a very important thing to think about and try to stamp out.
Suicides Related to Cyber Bullying in Canada
In most cases, if the bullying is reported and the student has a chance to heal they can get past something like cyberbullying. In other cases however the students are pushed too far and they have no one to talk to. As awful as it is to think about, more young people take their lives each year as a result of cyberbullying than you might imagine. Here are a few cases of just that.
Amanda Todd made headlines when she took her own life in 2012 as the result of bullying on social media and other outlets. Amanda told her story via YouTube, a popular video sharing site. She told her story with flashcards, her story is a tragic one. Not only was she bullied, she was also blackmailed to show her breasts on a webcam, harassed, and physically assaulted. Her video, though it drew little attention while she was alive, went viral after her death which helped to gain attention for her case.
It was said that Todd was harassed online by a man that she chatted with after she showed him her breasts after a year of him asking. He threatened to show the pictures to her entire school and eventually did just that. Though his identity has not been released, he was called Aydin C and he was arrested for child pornography and for a few other cases in surrounding countries. Amanda was only 15 when she took her own life.
Another heartbreaking case is that of Todd Loik. This bright young 15-year-old had the world in front of him until students began to send him threatening and hurtful messages on social media. It was said that the other students sent him nasty, hurtful messages for months before he decided to take his own life. He told his mother about the abuse and she did what she could to stop it. She told him to ignore them, to be strong, but in the end, it was too hard for him to bear.
After his son committed suicide, Mrs. Loik talked to the mother of Amanda Todd, the girl mentioned above. She told her how to get into her son’s messages and what she found there was too hurtful for her to read. She is still struggling with his 2013 death.
Still another tragic case is that of Jenna Bowers-Bryanton. This beautiful and bright young lady from Nova Scotia took her own life in 2011 after an endless string of tormentors told her she was ugly, untalented, and fat, and that she should just kill herself. After a day in and day out of torment Jenna finally took matters into her own hands. The bullying stemmed from the videos that she posted on YouTube. Those that watched them that were not her friends told her that she had no talent and that she should stop.
After months of cutting classes to avoid her bullies, Jenna finally decided that enough was enough. She took her own life in her home. Her bullying was not limited to the people that knew her but was widespread with bullies from all over teaming up to drag her down. She took her own life in January of 2011.
Cyber Bullying Laws in Canada
In Canada, as in many places, the law is struggling to catch up to the current technology that we have. One law that is now in place has to do directly with sexting, a popular way for teens to share lewd photographs of themselves. This is considered a violation of the Children’s Protection act and can be punishable if someone is caught. Though things like name calling over the internet are not yet punishable by law, there are some types of cyberbullying that you can report to your local mounted police.
- Threats, either online or in person
- Assaults, usually of a physical nature
- Theft of personal items
- Harassment, online or in people such as repeated unwanted messaging, tormenting and the like
- Sexual Exploitation or sharing of videos or images of a sexual nature of another person
- Hate Crimes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
All of these things can help you get your attacker or bully punished. One organization that helps to collect and catalogue cyberbullying statistics in Canada is Kids Help Phone. This organization does a wide range of things that can help anyone through any crisis.
With counselling both in person during business hours and over the phone 24/7, Kids Help Phone is just one of many ways that you can begin to deal with cyberbullying. This helpful and easy to use service can help you find ways to tell your parents or other adults about bullying you have been experiencing, can help you deal with tormentors, and can even help talk you through feelings of inadequacy and other issues you may be having.
Though taking your own life or harming yourself may seem like the only option, there is always someone waiting to help that can get you through the tough times and back on the road to being the person you were meant to be. Nothing is hopeless and there are plenty of ways that you can help stamp out bullying and get your life back on track. Remember, talking to someone is always the best option and can help you deal with pain and anxiety that you may be feeling in a healthy and positive way so that you can face those that hurt you and become a better person while doing it.
Why Cyberbullying in Canada Should be Stopped
The Internet has brought the world closer in many ways. With the use of email, Skype, Facebook and Twitter, family and friends can socialize with friends from all corners of the globe. When used improperly, however, this same technology can cause a lot of harm. Rather than bring family and friends together in a good way, cyberbullies are using the Net to intimidate, embarrass and ridicule people with their slanderous posts. With so many Canadian young people using social network sites today, cyberbullying in Canada has become a major concern across the country.
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that uses advanced electronic technology to cause people harm. Cyberbullies take advantage of computers, cell phones, tablets and other electronic equipment to post slanderous material or send threatening emails and texts to others in an effort to intimidate them or make them look bad in the eyes of their peers. Some common examples of cyberbullying activities include:
- Spreading rumours or gossip about others to damage their reputation
- Sending hurtful emails and texts
- Posting slanderous information about others on websites or blogs
- Sharing embarrassing pictures, videos or stories to ridicule or shame others
- Sending mean messages or texts to people in someone else’s name
- Stealing others’ passwords and altering their profile in a negative way
- Sharing hurtful information about others in public chat rooms
- Excluding others from social or instant messaging sites
Cyber Bullying Statistics in Canada
Cyberbullying is a very real issue in Canada. Unfortunately, many young Canadians have been both victims and perpetrators of these attacks. The following cyberbullying facts from the organization PREVNet (Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network) tell the tale of how this bullying is affecting Canadian youth today:
- Over 1/3 of Canadian teens have witnessed cyberbullying activity at some time.
- 1 in 5 say they have been victims of cyberbullying attacks.
- 25% of Canadian youth admit to participating in cyberbullying activity.
- Of these, over half say they were “just joking around”.
- Bullying statistics in Canada currently surpass 2/3 of OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) member countries.
Cyber Bullying vs. Real Life Bullying – What’s the Difference?
Real life bullying occurs in specific places and at specific times such as during school, at home or in the workplace. When targets are not in these places, they have a respite from bully attacks. In contrast, cyberbullying occurs continuously, at any time, day or night, targeting students when they least expect it. Cyberbullies can post hurtful material on the Internet without anyone knowing who they are. These messages are difficult to erase but easy to spread far and wide.
According to PREVNet cyberbullying statistics, approximately 94% of Canadian young people are enrolled in Facebook and 87% own a cell phone by the time they are in 10th grade. This makes them easy targets for cyber bully messages, emails or texts. Once malicious information has been posted online, it could very well go viral, making it difficult for students to escape the ridicule, harassment and intimidation these attacks can cause.
Here are some of the most common types of bullying activity committed online:
Harassment – sending rude and offensive messages on a regular basis
Denigration – spreading false, derogatory information about others via a web post, email or texting. Also includes distributing altered photographs designed to humiliate others.
Impersonation – Using a person’s stolen online identity to distribute malicious information about others
Flaming – fighting online by sending angry and vulgar electronic messages to one another
Outing/Trickery – Obtaining embarrassing secrets or information about people through deceptive means and passing them on to others
Cyber Stalking – Sending or posting threatening or intimidating messages repeatedly to the same person, making that person feel fearful of his or her personal safety
Effects of Cyber Attacks
According to PREVNet reports, cyberbullying in Canada is on the rise. Although children and teens are major targets, anyone who has an online account or owns a cell phone is susceptible to a cyber attack. Unsuspecting teens can find themselves the target of cyberbullies from one day to the next, without prior warning. Like real life bullying, cyber victims may be targeted due to their nationality, religious beliefs, physical or mental disability, gender or sexual orientation. Perpetrators may be former friends or acquaintances of the victim or someone who’s jealous or envious of their popularity, talents or skills.
Although no two people react to bullying the same way, most young people are devastated by such attacks. Cyberbullying can easily damage a young person’s reputation and character, causing him to lose self-confidence and the respect of his peers. A teen may suffer physically, mentally or emotionally through the ordeal, especially when friendships are on the line.
Cyberbullying separates young people from their peers, making them feel fearful, isolated and depressed. In an effort to find relief from their sorrows, many teens turn to use alcohol or drugs. Tragic cyberbullying stories tell of teens committing suicide due to humiliating gossip or pictures being spread about them online. Others develop serious health problems, drop out of school or become withdrawn from family and friends.
How Can Parents Protect Their Kids from Cyber Bullies?
The Internet is an important part of most young people’s lives. If Canadian parents are to keep up with their children and teens’ online activities, they need to brush up on their Internet skills. Savvy parents can help train their kids in proper Internet usage as well as show them how to protect themselves from dangerous characters online. Parents who stay abreast of the latest in electronic technology will be better able to protect their kids from becoming victims of cyber attacks.
Most kids today begin using the Internet at a fairly young age. By monitoring the online activities of their children and preteens, parents can better secure their safety. Parents should also ensure their teens are fully aware of safety measures they can implement to protect their personal data and online identity. Social sites such as Facebook have privacy settings that give teens greater control over who they connect with. These settings also help protect a teen’s personal information to avoid bullies breaking into their account. By reading cyberbullying articles that explain how bullies operate, teens will have a better idea of how to protect themselves online.
Teaching their kids responsible Internet behaviour is also part of a parent’s job. Responsible Internet conduct includes:
- Being respectful of others by not posting or sharing negative or malicious material about them, not even “in fun”
- Safeguarding personal information and passwords
- Not sharing email addresses or mobile phone numbers with people they don’t know or trust
- Not posting compromising photos, videos or stories about themselves or others
- Refusing to partake of bullying activities
- Reporting online bullying to a trusted adult
How Can Schools Help Stop CyberBullying?
As schools are responsible to provide their students with a safe learning environment, it’s to their advantage to look for ways to stop online bullying before it gets out of hand. Parents should stay abreast of how schools are handling these issues in the event their children or teens are targeted by their peers.
Before schools can implement a policy against online bullying, they need to assess how cyberbullying is currently affecting their student population. This assessment can be made by gender, age or grade level and include the medium from which most of the aggression is coming.
A realistic assessment can give school officials a better idea of what kind of strategy to put into place to deal with cyber attacks. Having a policy in place can help the school maintain a safer, more stable learning environment.
When developing a policy, schools should consider a two-fold strategy: training teachers and staff in how to prevent and respond to cyberbullying activities and training students in responsible Internet conduct and usage. Educating teens on the dangers of online bullying can not only help curtail bullying acts but can protect teens from legal repercussions that could endanger their future.
Cyber Bullying and the Law
Cyberbullies can be held accountable for their actions under Canadian civil and criminal law.
Civil law cyberbully cases deal with:
- Defamation: Defamation entails damage to a person’s reputation due to spreading malicious rumours, gossip and lies. Victims can sue cyberbullies for damages that their false statements and lies have caused.
- Contributing to an unsafe environment: Schools have a responsibility to provide their students with a safe learning environment. Cyberbullying violates students’ safety by subjecting them to the ridicule, intimidation and humiliation of their peers. According to the Safe Schools Act in Ontario, students who partake in cyberbullying activities can be suspended or expelled for their malicious acts – even when these acts are committed off of school property. Victims can also sue schools that don’t make every effort to preserve the safety of their learning environment.
- Taking responsibility for a victim’s actions: Cyber bullies can be held responsible for the physical harm victims cause themselves, if the perpetrators knew these repercussions could occur. If, for example, a bully suggests a victim commit suicide, the bully can be held liable for the victim’s death, if the bully knew that suicide was a feasible repercussion.
Criminal law cyberbullying cases deal with:
- Harassment: Criminal harassment occurs when a bully’s actions or words can be construed as a threat to that person’s safety. Bullies who are convicted of harassment can face a prison term of up to 10 years.
- Defamatory libel: Criminal defamatory libel most frequently occurs when bullies make libellous statements against people in positions of authority, damaging their reputation. If convicted, bullies face a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
Cyberbullying produces much of the same emotional and psychological trauma as real-life bullying in a young person’s life. The fact that online bullying is ongoing and farther reaching makes its effects even more devastating over time. Rather than look at online bullying as a joke or prank, young people should consider the serious repercussions it can have. With cyberbullying, there’s no telling who will be the next victim or how far rumours or gossip will be spread.
By taking a stand against cyberbullies from the start, students can do their part to put a stop to bullying activities and benefit from a safer, more productive Internet environment. The following cyberbullying quotes say it all:
“Unless and until our society recognizes cyberbullying for what it is, the suffering of thousands of silent victims will continue.” – Anna Maria Chavez
“Cyberbullying is Bullying. Hiding behind a pretty screen doesn’t make it less hateful, written words have power.” – Anonymous
“Bullying is not okay. Period.” – Jim C. Hines