Cyber Bullying Should Be Extinct In Thunder Bay

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Rehtaeh Parsons -- A life over way too soon.
Rehtaeh Parsons -- A life over way too soon.

Rehtaeh Parsons -- A life over way too soon.
Rehtaeh Parsons — A life over way too soon.

THUNDER BAY – Cyber bullying is an ongoing issue. Canadians have witnessed media reports on the reaction to online stalking and cyber bullying. Two high profile instances the suicides of Rehtaeh Parsons, and Amanda Todd brought the issue forward to millions of people around the world. In the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, it was an assault followed by constant cyber bulling that brought the young women to the position where she could only see killing herself as a solution.

Cyber Bullying Fight Ongoing

Efforts in Thunder Bay to reduce bullying are underway. The Lakehead Board of Education with partnership in the community are bringing out an online app, a tool to report instances of bullying, both online and cyber bullying.

There have been instances in Thunder Bay of cyber bullying. Often it is tied to digital images shared by youth. 

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Healthy Canadians state, “Bullying has had increasingly high profile in recent years as people have come to understand how deeply it can wound children — and how tragic the consequences can sometimes be. Bullying is defined as ‘wilful, repeated aggressive behaviour with negative intent used by a child to maintain power over another child’. The result is ‘a victimized child caught in an abusive relationship’.”

  • Unequal power – One child has more power than another child (or it seems this way to the children involved)
  • Hurtful actions – Physically or psychologically harmful behaviour takes place (such as name-calling, insults, threats, kicking, hitting, punching, etc)
  • Direct or indirect actions – The abusive behaviour may be face-to-face or done behind a child’s back (such as teasing, exclusion, gossiping and spreading rumours)
  • Repetitive behaviour – The hurtful actions keep happening, so the child being affected finds it increasingly difficult to escape

One of the issues on online bullying is that it is not just engaged in by young people. There are also many adults who engage in different forms of online cyber bullying. Children and youth don’t invent hate and don’t invent bullying. They copy and learn, even subliminally from adults.

The impact on people is immediate, and it is long-term. In some cases it is permanent, as in the suicides of young people. It is also very possible that 

In some cases, Facebook users can contribute to the cyber bullying. People from the seeming faceless computer screen can say things that likely they would never say face to face. Some Facebook pages in Thunder Bay are creating lists and offering out very negative, even perhaps libellous commentary on private individuals in our community.

What is Cyber bullying?

Cyberbullying is the use of email, cell phones, text messages, Internet sites and chat rooms to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an individual or group. Social media technologies often allow bullies to remain anonymous while distributing damaging messages/pictures to a widespread audience.

What Can Be Done?

The first step is realizing it is happening. In England, 38% of young people have been affected by cyber bullying, according to government statistics from the NSPCC. Social networking website Ask.fm has announced a range of changes following recent cases of online bullying. These include a more prominent “report button”, a website for parents and more staff hired to work as moderators.

In Thunder Bay a new online app is coming from the Lakehead Board of Education. It will be ready this fall.

Having resources online, and faster reaction to reports of cyber bullying is another solution. Claire Lilley, NSPCC safer technology expert, states, “It’s good that Ask.fm have responded to calls for them to do more to tackle online bullying and harassment. Unfortunately these changes come too late for some young people but their suggestions for an improved report button, moderation, and information on sources of help and advice are a step in the right direction.

“However, these changes alone are not going to solve the problem of online bullying. And while they are being implemented children and young people are likely to continue to suffer. All social networking sites need to make sure that they are safe and welcoming places for children and young people and that any bullying or harassment by users is not tolerated.

“Parents can help by having regular conversations with their children about what is and isn’t ok online, and encourage them to seek help if they are being bullied, blackmailed or see anything that upsets them”.

Parents Watch Your Teens

Parents who notice that their teenagers are being more withdrawn should be aware that their might be some issues. Keeping the doors of communications open is a key. 

Adults and Cyber Bullying

The issue of cyber bullying is not just an issue for students. Sadly there are adults who appear to engage in the same kinds of cyber bullying activities.

Watch for Part Two of our report next Saturday.

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