On Friday May 3, 2013, Professor Jane Bailey spoke at Clicks and Stones, a conference about cyberbullying co-sponsored by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Innovation Law and Policy and Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. In a presentation entitled “Online sexualized bullying: why an equality analysis matters”, Professor Bailey relied on the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in AB v. Bragg Communications Inc. as the basis for making two central points: (i) that individually initiated civil litigation offers a very limited opportunity for redressing the harms of sexualized bullying because it is often slow and expensive, and can expose the target to further unwanted and sometimes humiliating publicity; and (ii) that proactive, collective equality-based responses to the misogyny, homophobia, racism, classism, colonialism and typecast gender conformity that frequently inform sexualized bullying are also needed. You can view Professor Bailey’s slides from the presentation here.
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