Cyberbullying and the Non-consensual Distribution of Intimate Images

Responses to Cyberbullying

Traditionally, bullying has been addressed through non-legislative means that include education, public awareness, and family and community support. This multi-pronged approach has been adopted across Canada as well as internationally. It reflects the need for comprehensive responses by all levels of government, educators, non-governmental organizations, the police and community groups.

The Government of Canada through its various departments and agencies have, for a number of years, recognized the benefits of a multi-pronged approach and have developed programs in the area of prevention, knowledge development and stakeholder engagement. These programs are run through or supported by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC), Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada. Programs such as the RCMP's WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out, Seek Help), is an example of cross-sector collaboration as it was developed in partnership with the university of Victoria, PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network), and the Rock Solid Foundation (not for profit crime prevention organization from Victoria). The NCPC also addresses cyberbullying and bullying through numerous projects it funds in relation to youth violence. In relation to education, the NCPC has produced a number of publications that address bullying, and federal funding supports the education programs at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Many of these departments and agencies are also involved with outreach activities to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are consulted and engaged.

Many of the provinces and territories have taken a similar approach to combating bullying and cyberbullying and recognize that the issue is effectively addressed through programs, which focus on the cause of this behaviour. For example, since 2004 Manitoba has had The Safe Schools Charter, which requires every school in the province to have a code of conduct that protects students from bullying, abuse, discrimination and other anti-social behaviour.

British Columbia announced its ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) strategy in 2012. This is a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to promote positive mental health and wellness and prevent bullying and violent behaviour in schools. As part of the ERASE strategy, British Columbia launched two websites directed at education and reporting: www.erasebullying.ca and reportbullyingbc.edudata.ca/apps/bullying.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Education has implemented a Comprehensive Action Plan for Accepting Schools to prevent bullying and cyberbullying and improve Internet safety which, in addition to the Accepting Schools Act (highlighted below), includes an Expert Panel to provide advice on resources and practices to support effective implementation and a public awareness campaign. Select initiatives to prevent and respond to cyberbullying in Ontario include the Kids Help Phone, and the CyberCops (Air Dogs/Mirror Image), Connect[ED] and Youth Connected educational or school-based programs.

Nova Scotia has recently launched two new programs: Speak Up, An Action Plan to Address Bullying and Cyberbullying Behaviour which is a comprehensive initiative covering all aspects bullying from a sociological perspective; and RAISP (Restorative Approaches In Schools Program) which targets bullying in a school context and promotes fostering stronger relationships between school system participants, including students, teachers, administrators and parents.

The above-noted programs are only a sample of the initiatives that these provinces offer in relation to cyberbullying and bullying. Many other jurisdictions address the issue in a similar manner and these programming responses are sometimes supplemented through targeted legislative responses.

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