Five Things Parents Should Know About Cyberbullying

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Cyberbullying can have legal consequences parents should know about.

 

1 - Hateful emails, threatening messages, posting embarrassing pictures... That's cyberbullying!

Cyberbullying is bullying. The only difference between the two is the use of technology.


The content of cyberbullying can spread quickly over social networks and reach a lot of people. Once online, it's often very hard to remove.


Anyone, any time can be a victim of cyberbullying: alone in her room, on the way back from school and even during family vacations.

 

2 - Young cyberbullies run the risk of being found guilty of a crime.

Behaviour that may seem innocent to young people can be a crime.


For example, a teen who sends a nude photo of his ex to his friends could be found guilty of distributing intimate images. A teen who sends a lot of hateful emails to someone could be found guilty of criminal harassment.


Even when it's not a crime, cyberbullying can cause harm to the victim. For example, people who post personal information about a person on social networks are not respecting that person's right to privacy. A judge might order them to stop doing this and pay the victim money to make up for the harm done.

 

3 - As a parent, you must take action, whether your child is the cyberbully or the cybervictim.

Being a parent comes with responsibilities.


If you don't take action against bullying, you could be held responsible for the harm your child causes. If your child is the victim, you must take action on your child's behalf to end the bullying and make sure your child's rights are respected.


You can also file a complaint with the police.

 

4 - Schools must take steps to deal with bullying, even if it takes place in cyberspace.

In Quebec, all primary and secondary schools must have a plan to prevent and stop all bullying, including cyberbullying. They have a duty to help victims and keep their complaints confidential. They must also discipline students who bully others.


If your child is a victim of bullying or has seen someone else be bullied, report it right away to a teacher or the school principal.


If the bullying is serious, you should get the police involved.

 

5 - You have to act quickly to stop cyberbullying and prevent it from happening again.

There are many resources that can help you and your child. The following organizations that can provide free, confidential help and information for your child:

  • Log in to the Positive has tools to prevent violence and bullying in school.  
  • Need Help Now offers help to young people whose photos or videos of a sexual nature have been posted.
  • Tel-jeunes listens to young people and gives them advice on things that are bothering them.
  • Kids Help Phone gives kids and teens a chance to talk about their problems.
  • Suicide Action Montreal (Everywhere in Quebec) listens and helps people who are considering suicide or who know someone who is.  
  • Cybertip.ca protects young people from online sexual exploitation.

 

To learn more about cyberbullying, read our article Bullying and the Law: What You Need to Know. By being well informed, you'll have the tools to make your children aware of the problem and support them.