A call on social media networks to do more to combat cyberbullying

It used to be that kids could feel safe from bullies at home. To our great dismay, this is no longer the case. Cyberbullying allows for the terror to continue after school.

Prince William is adding his voice to the conversation. In a recent interview he said “It is one thing when it happens in the playground and it’s visible… parents and teachers and other children can see it. Online, you’re the only one who sees it, and it’s so personal. It goes straight to your room.”

After speaking to a mother of a terrible incident in which a young teen committed suicide after enduring bullying for a long period of time, Prince William was inspired to take action. He opened the Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce meeting at Google’s Headquarters in London and announced his proposal for a code of conduct to be instituted. This code is called ‘Stop, Speak, Support’, and is geared towards encouraging young internet users to stop participating in negative communication, to report cyberbullying incidences to the social media platform, and to support others that are being victimized.

Procedures of reporting bullying online are lacking so there has been a widespread call from a variety public bodies, such as the Royal Family, national charities, and the UK Government on tech companies to improve on their guidelines.

At the final meeting of the cyberbullying taskforce, Prince William urged tech giants to “innovate, collaborate and educate” users on the impact of cyberbullying.

The NSPCC (The UK Children’s Charity) is calling for a legally binding rulebook to be instituted that will require social media sites to protect children from online abuse.

Now, the UK Government is asking internet companies, such as Google and Facebook to pay for measures to tackle and raise awareness about online bullying. The proposed levy on social media firms and other web giants is among a series of measures laid out by governments to improve internet safety. However, it is only voluntary.

The UK’s Culture secretary said “Our ideas are ambitious – and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.”

Cyberbullying is a phenomenon of this day and age, and it is proving detrimental to the health of our young generation. The more we can work together to tackle the issue, the better.

What social media brings in 2015

In a few hours 2014 will come to an end.  A year that saw its share of ups and downs in cyber-safety.

The downs included, steady reports of school related bullying, continued stories of suicides relating to online harassment and the Supreme Court of Canada redefining the definition of anonymity inhibiting law enforcement’s abilities to investigate the “trolls”.

The ups include a greater awareness created by high profile cases such as guilty pleas in the Rehtaeh Parsons situation.  Social media has played a huge role in many cases whereas; the tolerance for online sexual harassment is decreasing.   It also included recognition by the Canadian Government to update the Criminal Code to protect innocent people from becoming victims of intimate photos being distributing on the Internet without their consent.  The new law, assented on December 9th 2014, also increased the powers needed by Police to investigate incidents of cyber-bullying despite stark criticism from privacy pundits.  Bill C-13 as passed can be found here.

What lies ahead in 2015.  Social Networks continue to offer more ability to populate gigabytes of data about oneself.  Users continue to post content about themselves that they may not fully understand, appreciate or simply just ignore the consequences of such over-sharing.

Social networks constantly evolve to share their users content publicly by default.  Privacy settings have become more complex and the results are that the user data generated has become easier to search for and access.    A good demonstration of this is highlighted in this article on Facebook’s new search capabilities.

2015 will continue to bring challenges and conflict in a person’s ability to use social networks in their personal lives while attempting to somehow protect the things not intended for the greater public audience.    What’s worse is when users choose to share content with an intended and limited audience but a setting or check-mark or radial button somewhere that was on/off allowed it to go somewhere else.

Make one of your New Year’s resolutions to fine-tune all of your privacy settings wherever they exist and THINK BEFORE YOU POST.


Parents of Cyberbullied Teen Create Society to Educate Young People on Cyberbullying and Sexual Violence

After losing their daughter to suicide from moonths of online harassment the parents of Rehtaeh Parsons have set up a new organization to address the prevalence of cyberbullying, youth sexual violence and the distribution of images among young people.

The Rehtaeh Parsons Society will raise money to provide education, skills and tools to help young people.


Read more about the Rehtaeh Parsons Society here

New Education Modules Launched to Combat Cyberbullying and Sexual Exploitation

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has recently launched two new modules for educators to help address the ever-growing issue of cyberbullying among teens.

According to the article below, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, who also operates Cybertip.ca, has seen a large increase in reports from young people in regard to sexual images or videos being created and shared over the Internet or through electronic devices.

As recent generations become more and more dependent on technology, it is comforting to know that educators have access to resources in order to combat the issues that arise due technology.

These two new modules have been designed for Grades 7/8, which focuses on reducing adolescent sexual exploitation and the results that this can have on youth, and Grades 9/10, which addresses the growing concern of sexual violence in youth relationships and among peer groups. Workbooks have been created to follow along with these modules in the hope that students will become engaged in the topic, making it more likely to make a difference.

Kids who are bullied in cyber-space (or anywhere) have problems with low self-esteem and are therefore more susceptible to other exploitation, including unwanted and illegal sexual advances on the internet. The link between cyberbullying, “sexting” and teen-on-teen sexual exploitation using internet-technologies is also an obvious, and growing trend.

KINSA and NobodyStandsAlone want to help put an end to both of these issues.

Read the full story on the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s new educational modules here.

Bullying Prevention requires buy-in from all Institutions

This story is shocking.  Instead of taking the opportunity to highlight and commend a bullying victim for her actions, Caitlin’s school reprimanded her for the positive reaction she chose.  It is disappointing to think that school officials, whom arguably have first-hand as well as daily front-line experience in dealing with these issues, opted not to support a victim.  

This young girl should be commended for standing up and showing her school and inevitably the unidentified bully she was strong.  Kudos to the other students and the community for supporting her as do we.  Good on you Caitlin, we hope your acts will inspire other victims to stand up against bullies. 

Read the full story here.

Teen arrested for harassing teacher with ‘cyberbullying app’

Cyberbullying knows no limits and it isn’t just about teens victimizing other teens.  Many adults are victims of harassment online as well as the perpetrators of online abuse.  This story brings to light how important it is to ensure you or your child is not in fact a ‘cyberbully’.   Our website offers a quiz to find this out, take the test.

The article demonstrates how new technologies are developed everyday that increase the opportunities weaker people choose to put down the strong.

The App that was used in this case, one of dozens online or on mobile phones creates an environment that facilitates this kind of harassment aimed at school settings:  Streetchat

Don’t forget, you nor anyone else has to be subjected to online abuse or harassment, nobody stands alone.  Report cyberbullies.

Cyberbullying in the news

Despite the attention it gets, cyberbullying seems to only to be mentioned in casual conversations until a story gets mainstream or social media attention.  It then fades away into the horizon awaiting the next “breaking news” story.  Yesterday was that day, a series of articles appeared as a result of one story and then branched out into several topics of discussion on the issue.  Will it still be in the forefront of most people’s thoughts tomorrow or Friday?  The victims and the families of the victims will tell you, for them it’s in their mind everyday.

Yesterday there was a guilty plea for one of the perpetrators in an infamous Halifax, Canada case.  Publication bans prevent the disclosing of any names but simple research could tell you what the case was about.  You can read some perspective on the case and others like it here.

That case and the media attention it got did a number of things to trigger conversations yesterday.   Privacy pundits used it to bolster their opposition to the current government’s Cyberbullying Bill.  You can read one of those articles here.

Internet Safety promoters used it on social media channels to promote their favourite web resource on cyberbullying including the Government’s page.

And social network companies used the opportunity to promote what they are doing to combat cyberbullying in their networks for their users.  Facebook launched an anti-cyberbullying campaign in Australia, a country that has strong laws to handle these cases.  Read more here.

Speaking about social networks, there was a small movement to violate the publication ban by social media users, to give the victim a name.  Justice should be served for someone after all.    A hash-tag was created on Twitter with comments like: Publication ban a joke The system should be ashamed of itself by trying to silence this injustice ” 

All in all cyberbullying made the news yesterday, for one victim and her family in Halifax, a small relief in the name of justice for their daughter.   Despite the noise, more needs to be done to prevent the victimization of mostly teens at the hands of their peers.


Fall brings new opportunities for bullies; stand-up against them

Now that summer has past, school brings new challenges for kids.  Bullies take advantage by seeking out new victims such as first year students or newly transferred students who came from other places.  Don’t let them make you a target, if they do, stand up to them.

Here are a couple of new initiatives launched over the late summer to look at.

An interactive video produced by the Government of Canada; #wordshurt.  Give it a try.

The Ontario Provincial Police launched a new app to help with how to manage situations when someone is asking you to send inappropriate pictures.  Using the app, you could send them one of the sample photos instead.  You get to laugh at and embarrass them as well as show them that you are not going to fall prey to their trickery.

Click here to learn about and download the free app.  Sendthisinstead.


Do your kids use KIK, a mobile instant messenger?

KIK is a very prominent Canadian instant messaging app.  Law enforcement tells us it has surfaced in many criminal investigations such as child exploitation, fraud, drug trafficking and of course; cyberbullying.

Read the parents’ information guide from KIK to learn more about what it is and isn’t.  Click here for the link.