MONTREAL, January 8, 2012 – The harm caused by cyberbullying is known all too well by Canadians. In fall of 2011, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights Committee was mandated by the Senate to study this important issue and subsequently, conducted hearings with over sixty witnesses, including academic researchers, volunteers, website operators, government departments, non-government organizations, teachers and students.
The CSBA was pleased to be among witnesses called and were able to present several examples of work being done by school boards across Canada. Present for the day were Sandi Urban Hall, President of CSBA and of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association at the time, David Birnbaum of the Quebec English School Boards Association and Dr. Wayne MacKay, who has done extensive research for the Nova Scotia School Boards Association.
The report, Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age was released this last month, calling for Canada “to meet its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, by taking necessary actions to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence, including cyberbullying”. The federal government intends to step in and coordinate an anti-bullying strategy with provincial and territorial counterparts. The report demonstrates that focus is needed on prevention, through digital citizenship, information and education. Promoting awareness and supporting initiatives that have proven effective are among the recommendations made, in addition to addressing the need for a national Children’s Commissioner to coordinate effective approaches. Punitive legal sanctions, – a rising trend across the country – are continually proving less effective. Said Senator Mobina Jaffer, chair of the committee. “It takes a whole community approach, the teaching of human rights and digital citizenship by parents, teachers, governments and by youth themselves to change online behavior”. Canadian school boards are an integral part of that community.
In addition to the report, the Committee created a Guide for Youth and a Guide Parents, educational resource guides that offer responses that can help youth, parents, educators and others involved in cyberbullying at any level. In both of these guides, there is a summary of the six recommendations from the committee also provided.
The report again is available at Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age and the guides for both youth and parents are available at: