This is another post in our Guest Writer series that is meant to expand the set of opinions found on kraxinlogic. In the spirit of free speech and diverse opinions we will not be vetting or editing our guest posts in any way. We hope to encourage as many of these as possible in the future. Thanks KDL for contributing to Krax!
Written by: KDL.
In the aftermath of the recent Amanda Todd cyberbullying incident, many were quick to condemn our laws as inadequate at protecting youth from the unbridled dangers of the Internet. Some, including British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, suggested that new laws might be necessary to combat and even criminalize cyberbullying.
But what is cyberbullying? A definition is difficult to narrow down. And, without a proper definition, how can we properly begin a discourse related to the inadequacies of our current statutory protections? Although cyberbullying is a fairly recent development (or at least is as recent as the omnipresence of, and our dependence on, the Internet), this author submits that it is not truly something new. Rather, it is the use of developing information technologies to conduct otherwise ordinary bullying – whether that bullying be harassment, intimidation, defamation, or discrimination. While the impact of cyberbullying is unquestionably more damaging than regular bullying, due simply to our reliance on information technologies in our day-to-day lives, it is significant to note that we do not currently have laws in Canada that specifically address bullying as a crime.
In fact, the term “bullying” currently only appears in various provincial education and public schools acts. Otherwise, “bullying” as such remains unlegislated. Notwithstanding, we have slander and libel acts. We have torts to address instances of assault, discrimination, harassment, defamation, and even, in certain provinces, breach of privacy. We have human rights legislation. And we have the Criminal Code, which has criminalized harassment, the propagation of hate speech, and the commission of fraud and sexual preditation, among other things. What aspect of cyberbullying, specifically, is not encompassed by these legal recourses? Is it the breadth of the injury and the far-reaching hand of the Internet that lead critics to conclude as to the inadequacies of our legal system?
This author suggests that it is not our legislation that is lacking, but rather proper education as well as the accessibility of our legal system as a whole. While there are countless programs that exist to educate youth as to the harms of bullying and cyberbullying, adults are often left out of this discourse. Information technologies have developed so quickly that many parents are out of touch with the day-to-day online activities of their children. And it would not be surprising if many adults do not even understand some of the technologies used by their children. Our society as a whole, and not only our children, should be educated as to the risks associated with information technologies. Although we most often hear of cyberbullying in the context of youth victimization, adults are equally as capable of being cyberbullies and cyberbullied. Education must be widespread.
In addition, while we do have a variety of legal recourses to protect against cyberbullying, these recourses must be readily available to those in need of such protection. It is highly costly to bring an action in a court of law, and the burden of proof linked to such an action is often incompatible with the fact that the prejudice suffered by a victim of cyberbullying is usually moral and not financial.
Cyberbullying will not go away on its own, but new legislation is not the answer. We have the answer already. We just need to ensure everyone knows it, and everyone has access to it.
This is KDL’s opinion, what’s yours?
I agree with KDL that new legislation seems premature at this point. But then I read news about people like this guy (http://gawker.com/creepshots/) and I wish that our privacy laws were more stringent, especially for pictures involving minors. It makes me grateful that there are so many smart, talented and resilient people working on this problem, like danah boyd (http://www.danah.org/), Benni Cinkle (http://www.thatgirlinpink.org/benni/about-benni/), and Debra Pepler (http://www.prevnet.ca/BullyingResources/ResourcesForEveryone/tabid/392/Default.aspx).
Thanks for sharing this great inooamrtifn. My son is in the first grade. I imagine that what I’ve seen as early as pre-school is where it starts. The way I handled it finally was to give him permission to hit a boy back. I told him that wherever the boy hit him, to hit him back in the same place and harder. We didn’t have any problems after that. But that doesn’t mean that the boy didn’t move on to someone else.
Hey there B,
Reading stuff like the Violentacrez story is pretty disgusting. But, the problem is not with privacy laws. Privacy laws (at least in Canada) protect the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. What Violentacrez was doing was pure criminal activity – e.g. posting naked pictures of underage girls is the equivalent of propagating child pornography. The problem is that people get onto an argument of freedom of speech vs. cyberbullying / cybercrime (as you can see in that article). The two concepts are completely unrelated, as freedom of speech cannot protect you from criminal activity. In my mind, the problem that I identify in that article you referred to is, where were the police? Thanks for pointing out those three sites (Danah Boyd, etc.) – I was very interested to check them out. – KDL
it was reported, but ntnhiog was done. Now more laws and policies are passed regarding bullying, but we need to do more to change the culture of bullying, build good character and restore civility.Together we can make a difference. Family, friends galore, schools, churches, YMCA’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc join the Nationwide Rock It Across America Challenge to help change the culture of bullying, encourage a safer learning atmosphere and environment for students and educators while kids get fit and healthy. United, teamwork and connected there is power showing nationwide support that all of us are on one accord affirming every child is important and bullying is not acceptable. Rock It is a fun, new and unique character building exercise CD/DVD created by diverse groups of kids who want to make a difference, that has anti-bully input, builds self-esteem, builds confidence, encourages kids to achieve and instill values while providing an effective workout.
I’m trying to type thugorh my tears as I feel so much grief for a girl who faced some of the worst battles that life has to offer and who could not find the love and support that each person in this world so desperately needs. In some ways, it makes you want to well up with hatred toward the thoughtless, cruel, and absolutely abhorrent actions of her many, many bullies. I think, however, that the message to be learned here is not one of hate or revenge but one of love and reaching out. We all make mistakes. We all know someone who is less accepted, or who is looked down-upon. I hope we can find courage thugorh Amanda’s story to be the one to make a difference the one to look past differences and appearances, and to look beyond what might drive others away, and to find the good in others, the longing and the need for love. I hope we can find strength to stand up for the weak, and, like Gandhi implored of us, be the difference that is so greatly needed in our world. Be the change you want to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi