“Cyberbullying involves the use of digital technologies and services including social media, texts, and instant messaging to repeatedly harass and intimidate others. The issue of how best to reduce and penalize cyberbullying has not been resolved by any jurisdiction to date.
However, just because the task is difficult doesn’t mean that there is any less onus on governments to do their best to protect and prevent young people from involvement in cyberbullying – as victims, perpetrators, or, as this report shows, sometimes as both.
The high-profile suicides in recent years of Canadian teenagers – including British Columbia’s Amanda Todd – appeared to be a response to particularly vicious cyberbullying. These tragic cases, and many other instances of exploitation of young people, have brought the issue of cyberbullying to the forefront of public consciousness. The provincial government’s approach to cyberbullying has initiated some dialogue on these issues, but difficult and pressing questions remain to be addressed.
This report, a joint effort by B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner and Representative for Children and Youth, provides important context and background on the issue of cyberbullying, with a particular focus on this province. More importantly, it provides recommendations for how the provincial government can comprehensively address cyberbullying – including education and prevention efforts for young people, protection of privacy concerns, and appropriate prosecution of offenders. It also includes a discussion about a role in the dialogue on cyberbullying for social media companies operating from, or reaching into, B.C. This report also highlights the concept of digital citizenship, which broadly refers to the responsible use of communication technologies in the online world. Digital citizenship education addresses cyberbullying and other issues related to it, such as privacy and security, relationships and communication, Internet safety, the digital footprint, legal and ethical aspects of online behaviour, and the role of information and communication technology in society. Prevention efforts must include promoting a greater acceptance and understanding of digital citizenship.
What this report shows is that there is still much to be learned about cyberbullying, its causes and effects, and how it differs from face-to-face bullying. The report also explores the potential for cyberbullying to touch thousands of lives, given that children and youth spend a great deal of their lives online and on social media, in large part through mobile devices that can connect them from virtually anywhere.”