When it comes to discussion about cyberbullying, experts attribute responsibility to a range of groups and issues. One group that takes a lot of flak is parents. At best, the story goes, we’re naïve, incapable of understanding our children’s Internet use, and not responding with enough urgency. At worst, we are responsible for our children’s bullying behaviour or victimhood, even the cause of the problem.
In their 2012 study, Cyberbullying in Canada, the Senate Committee on Human Rights heard from numerous witnesses about the shortcomings of parents. Witnesses consistently recommended parent education – primarily about the Internet and cyberbullying. A few witnesses alluded to the fact that parents need support to parent well, but this support was largely framed in narrow terms of bullying education. There was virtually no mention of systemic barriers that may exacerbate the challenges of parenting, or broader social and economic pressures that get in the way of kids’ positive and healthy digital citizenship. Continue reading
Seems to me it’s getting hard to get through a day without bumping up against cyberbullying. Websites (including our own!), news stories, legislative debates, courtrooms, chatrooms, are all loaded with explorations of the causes, effects and potential solutions to this social phenomenon. Legal responses in Canada have included everything from amending the Education Act in Ontario to specifically address cyberbullying to court proceedings aimed at uncovering the identities of anonymous cyberbullies to proposals to specifically criminalize cyberbullying. Of course, comprehensive responses don’t begin or end with law – education is understood to be critical. But it is easy to fall short on that score as well. Many different websites offer practical preventative tips advising us not to give out personal information and encouraging us to unplug every now and then. While this may be good advice for me, it doesn’t easily mesh with young people’s full integration of “online technologies into their social lives” (as reported by MediaSmarts in their 2012 report Young Canadians in a Wired World III (p. 15)). And, in any event, these kinds of tips always leave me wondering what else we need to be educating ourselves about. Continue reading
You probably heard or read about AB v Bragg in the media. It’s the case about the 15 year old girl who wanted to be able to use a pseudonym (rather than her real name) to pursue an order requiring an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to disclose customer information relating to the IP address from which a fake Facebook profile about her originated. AB went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) and was ultimately granted this right. The analyses at first instance, before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal and before the Supreme Court of Canada focused primarily on the privacy interests of young people.
On November 21, 2012, in an invited lecture organized by the University of Ottawa Women and the Law Association, Professor Bailey explored the kinds of equality arguments that might have been advanced in support of the SCC’s decision. She considered some of the reasons why equality was not raised and suggested why the absence of the “e” word matters.