The Cyber Bullying Canada Version
With our technology growing so rapidly it is no wonder that often the technology and crimes related to outpace the laws that we have in place. While there are plenty of laws that prohibit the harassment of a person in the face to face nature, there are still few that have to do with the ever growing problem that is cyber bullying. It is important that when we look at cyber bullying for any area, not just Canada, that we first understand a few basics.
What is Cyber Bullying
Put very simply cyber bullying is the use of any technology to harass, bully, defame, degrade, or otherwise bother an individual. This can be something like harassing emails, angry texts, and even sending messages that call others names or make threats. In most cases, cyber bullying is limited to social media which makes it a horrible issue for younger teens and young adults to deal with. In most cases, those that are affected by cyber bullying the world over are teens that are between the ages of 12-19. These individuals are often pushed past their breaking point and are often likely to take their own lives to escape those that are bullying them. Though bullying used to be something that was limited to school and public spaces, the internet and social media have given it a way into the homes of anyone that is being tormented.
Cyber Bullying Canada
In Canada, as in many jurisdictions, the number of cases related to cyber bullying are growing each and every day. There are new cases every week of teens that have taken their own lives or lashed out against others in an effort to hide the pain and escape from bullies. There is often no escape however as nearly every home in Canada has a computer with access to the internet. For those that do not have a computer, cell phones are widely accessible and many have access to social media. In 2007 Kids Help Phone conducted a survey of people aged 13-15. Around 70% reported that they had been bullied either in person or online and an astounding 44% admitted to bullying someone online at least once.
The same study found that many children that participated in the survey did not know that all the information you put on the internet is public property and that the messages they send to one another are not personal. This is a very disturbing fact and makes it much clearer why children are so eager to share information online without thinking of the consequences. In 2011 Kids Help Phone followed up and found that cyber bullying is most common on social media followed by text messages, then by emails.
In another study named, “Cyber Bullying Behaviors Among Middle and High School Students,” Toronto based high schools and middle schools were surveyed. They found that 34% of Canadian students had been bullied online and most did not report it to anyone that could help them. One would think that teachers would be safe from cyber bullying but that is not the case at all. In a study done by the Canadian Teachers Federation a poll found that one in five Canadians were aware of teachers that had suffered the same fate.
In a study conducted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, it was discovered that those that use the internet frequently for communication purposes are far less sensitive to online joking and teasing than those that may not use the internet nearly as much. It is alarming to think that children have such ready access to a platform from which anyone anywhere can attack them verbally and emotionally making them feel the need to take their own lives.
Cyber Bullying Statistics Canada
There are a great deal of studies done each year in relation to cyber bullying and other forms of harassment and having a basic idea of the findings may allow you to see the state of things as they stand.
- 94% of Canadian youths have a Facebook account
- 87% have a cell phone by the 10th grade
- 7/10 websites that they visit will be social media or related to social media
- Most students admit that they do not think when they cyber bully, pressing send is easier than confronting someone in person
- Cyber bullying is seen as a way to anonymously harass someone
- 25% of Canadian youths admit to cyber bullying
- 1 in 3 report that they have been a victim of cyber bullying
- Nearly half of all Canadian youths surveyed admit to being involved in bullying in some form.
- 20% of students admit that they have been bullied each month, over 60% of those surveyed admit that the bullying has been going on for at least a year
- More than half of the people that are involved in the bullying claim they are just joking and kidding around
These statistics show us that cyber bullying is far more widespread than anyone can actually imagine and as such it is a very important thing to think about and try to stamp out.
Suicides Related to Cyber Bullying in Canada
In most cases if they bullying is reported and the student has a chance to heal they can get past something like cyber bullying. In other cases however the students are pushed too far and they have no one to talk to. As awful as it is to think about, more young people take their lives each year as a result of cyber bullying than you might imagine. Here are a few cases of just that.
Amanda Todd made headlines when she took her own life in 2012 as the result of bullying on social media and other outlets. Amanda told her story via YouTube, a popular video sharing site. She told her story with flash cards, her story is a tragic one. Not only was she bullied, she was also blackmailed to show her breasts on web cam, harassed, and physically assaulted. Her video, though it drew little attention while she was alive, went viral after her death which helped to gain attention for her case.
It was said that Todd was harassed online by a man that she chatted with after she showed him her breasts after a year of him asking. He threatened to show the pictures to her entire school and eventually did just that. Though his identity has not been released, he was called Aydin C and he was arrested for child pornography and for a few other cases in surrounding countries. Amanda was only 15 when she took her own life.
Another heart breaking case is that of Todd Loik. This bright young 15 year old had the world in front of him until students began to send him threatening and hurtful messages on social media. It was said that the other students sent him nasty, hurtful messages for months before he decided to take his own life. He told his mother about the abuse and she did what she could to stop it. She told him to ignore them, to be strong, but in the end it was too hard for him to bear.
After his son committed suicide, Mrs. Loik talked to the mother of Amanda Todd, the girl mentioned above. She told her how to get into her sons messages and what she found there was too hurtful for her to read. She is still struggling with his 2013 death.
Still another tragic case is that of Jenna Bowers-Bryanton. This beautiful and bright young lady from Nova Scotia took her own life in 2011 after an endless string of tormentors told her she was ugly, untalented, fat, and that she should just kill herself. After day in and day out torment Jenna finally took matters into her own hands. The bullying stemmed from her videos that she posted on YouTube. Those that watched them that were not her friends told her that she had no talent and that she should stop.
After months of cutting classes to avoid her bullies, Jenna finally decided that enough was enough. She took her own life in her home. Her bullying was not limited to the people that knew her but was widespread with bullies from all over teaming up to drag her down. She took her own life in January of 2011.
Cyber Bullying Laws in Canada
In Canada, as in many places, the law is struggling to catch up to the current technology that we have. One law that is now in place has to do directly with sexting, a popular way for teens to share lewd photographs of themselves. This is considered a violation of the Children’s Protection act and can be punishable if someone is caught. Though things like name calling over the internet are not yet punishable by law, there are some types of cyber bullying that you can report to your local mounted police.
- Threats, either online or in person
- Assaults, usually of a physical nature
- Theft of personal items
- Harassment, online or in person such as repeated unwanted messaging, tormenting and the like
- Sexual Exploitation or sharing of videos or images of a sexual nature of another person
- Hate Crimes based on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
All of these things can help you get your attacker or bully punished. One organization that helps to collect and catalogue cyber bullying statistics in Canada is Kids Help Phone. This organization does a wide range of things that can help anyone through any crisis.
With counseling both in person during business hours and over the phone 24/7, Kids Help Phone is just one of many ways that you can begin to deal with cyber bullying. This helpful and easy to use service can help you find ways to tell your parents or other adults about bullying you have been experiencing, can help you deal with tormentors, and can even help talk you through feelings of inadequacy and other issues you may be having.
Though taking your own life or harming yourself may seem like the only option, there is always someone waiting to help that can get you through the tough times and back on the road to being the person you were meant to be. Nothing is hopeless and there are plenty of ways that you can help stamp out bullying and get your life back on track. Remember, talking to someone is always the best option and can help you deal with pain and anxiety that you may be feeling in a health and positive way so that you can face those that hurt you and become a better person while doing it.