New cyberbullying legislation a positive step, victims' parents say
Published Thursday, November 21, 2013 9:31AM EST Last Updated Thursday, November 21, 2013 10:33PM EST
The mother of a B.C. teen who took her own life after she was relentlessly bullied on the Internet says new government legislation aimed at cracking down on cyberbullying is a step in the right direction.
The legislation, if passed, will prohibit the non-consensual distribution of intimate images online and also empowers the courts to order the removal of the image from the Internet. The legislation will also give authorities the power to seize any electronic equipment they suspect is being used to cyberbully.
“I see this as a good step forward because there has to be consequences for actions and instead of this being a grey area; it’s more black and white” Carol Todd told Canada AM on Thursday.
Her daughter Amanda took her own life in October 2012 after an intimate photo she sent to an Internet chat-room user spread widely among her peers. Just days before her suicide, Amanda had posted a video on YouTube detailing the bullying she endured, and how the online user threatened her and circulated the image online.
Less than a year later, Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Nova Scotia teen, died after trying to take her own life when photos of her allegedly being sexually assaulted were distributed around her school.
Both cases drew international attention to the issue of cyberbullying.
Allan Hubley, an Ottawa city councillor whose son Jamie killed himself after being bullied over his sexuality, says the new legislation will unmask bullies who hide behind email addresses and Facebook profiles.
“When we were younger, you always knew who your bully was, you could do something about it. Now, up until the time this legislation gets enacted, they can hide behind that,” he said on Canada AM. “Not only does it start to take the mask off of them, through this legislation there is serious consequences for their actions.”
As much as Carol Todd welcomed the legislation – explaining she believes it will act as deterrent to cyberbullying – she says she also hopes to see an emphasis placed on awareness.
“We have to think about the educational part, and the prevention, and the awareness. I want to be able to say that our law enforcement will be trained better to deal with these problems,” she said. “And go into schools and talk to kids about what they should and shouldn’t do and the safety guidelines.”
Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay agreed with Todd that legislation is just one of the tools to stop cyberbullying.
“We have to reach out to young people and have these sometimes difficult discussions because there is behaviour that is inappropriate, that is criminal, and that there will be consequences for,” he said. “Today we are bringing forward this legislation, but there is much more we have to do.”