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RCMP address cyberbullying with Kootenay Columbia students

Cyberbullying involves threatening or aggressive e-mails, instant messages etc.
L-R: Constable Ben Ansems, Principal Brian Stefani, and Constable Alanna Fitzgerald joined forces to address the harm of cyberbullying with Webster’s elementary students. Photo: Trail RCMP

Just before Christmas, Const. Alanna Fitzgerald and Const. Ben Ansems of the Greater Trail RCMP made a visit to the Warfield school to deliver a very important — and always timely — message to students about the perils of online activity.

The two police officers delivered an anti-cyberbullying presentation to the Grades 5, 6, and 7 classes at the Webster Elementary School. Jennifer Penney, from Trail RCMP Victim Services, also attended to participate and lend her work expertise during the sessions.

“Trail RCMP really enjoys being involved with our local schools when time permits,” Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, Trail detachment commander, said. “Cyberbullying through social media is a challenge for our youth to manage and they don’t have to do it alone.”

The police leader stresses, “Please talk to your children about strategies to manage cyberbullying and let them tell you what they experience while online.”

The conversation between the constables and eager young minds stretched farther than the topic, much to the enjoyment of everyone.

The department thanks Principal Brian Stefani and his staff for teaming up with the Trail RCMP to provide local youth with the tools to deal with cyberbullying.

What is cyberbulling? And how does it differ from traditional bullying?

Cyberbullying has been defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Cyberbullying can take place through various electronic media such as: phone calls; e-mails; texting, which may include picture and/or video messages; instant messaging, such as Messenger or Windows Live; social networking platforms, such as Facebook; microblogging sites; rating sites; online gaming sites and massive multiplayer online role-playing games; video broadcasting websites like YouTube; chat rooms; and other website forums.

The intent is to threaten, harass, embarrass, or socially exclude another using online technology. As with traditional bullying, there is usually a power imbalance between the cyberbully and the cybervictim.

Although there are similarities between online and off line bullying, there are significant differences in the context in which the bullying occurs. Anonymity, greater social dissemination, lack of supervision present on electronic media, and greater accessibility to the target are characteristics that set cyberbullying apart from off line bullying. These differences have implications in the development of appropriate cyberbullying interventions.

What are some important statistics to know about bullying?

Girls are more likely to be bullied on the internet than boys.

Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideation in youth.

The most common form of cyberbullying involves threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73 per cent of victims.

The BC RCMP have some advice for youth if they experience this type of bullying.

The cybervictim can: not respond to texts or e-mails; unfollow or block the user; adjust privacy settings; take a screenshot and report the problem to the website or app admin; and importantly, talk to someone — a parent, friend, police officer or trusted adult.

Cyberbullying is not just hurtful — it can have serious legal consequences, according to Public Safety Canada.

Cyberbullies can face jail time, have their devices taken away, and may even have to pay their victims.

Depending on the conduct of the cyberbully, under Canada’s Criminal Code, those involved could be charged for the following offences: sharing intimate images without consent; criminal harassment; uttering threats; libel; extortion; intimidation; and identity theft/fraud.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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