This is from the Globe and Mail.
I am quite surprised that this should be endorsed unaminously. It seems a dangerous precedent in outlawing even more forms of speech. Apparently the adage that sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me no longer applies. Of course it never was true since words do hurt people. Nevertheless, I have never been in favor of laws against hate speech and I take the same view about bullying speech. Bullying and prejudice are both huge problems in many societies but you cannot win by bullying people into conformity by beating them over the head with the law.
Teachers endorse cyberbullying policy
Globe and Mail Update
July 12, 2008 at 6:19 PM EDT
Delegates representing 220,000 teachers across the country have unanimously voted in favour of pushing to make cyberbullying a criminal offence.
The Canadian Teachers' Federation is calling on the federal government to take a tougher stand on cyberbullying, and 100 delegates endorsed the move at the group's annual general meeting in Moncton, N.B. on Saturday.
“We're going to be lobbying MPs to look at any and all kinds of legislation, including the Criminal Code, where there needs to be some updating and strengthening,” said federation president Emily Noble.
In adopting the document, the Canadian Teachers' Federation plans to urge the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to include cyberbullying, saying current laws do not provide police the tools they need to investigate online harassment.
“We feel that there's not enough teeth in the Criminal Code right now for cyberbullying,” president Emily Noble said.
In recent years, teachers organizations have increasingly highlighted the issue, saying both students and teachers are being targeted through e-mail, instant messaging, chat rooms, blogs and social networking sites. The harassment, they say, negatively affects learning environments and should be viewed as a serious occupational health and safety issue.
The highest-profile incident of online bullying was the case of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old Missouri girl who hanged herself in 2006 after connecting with a 16-year-old boy on MySpace. The boy, who turned out to be a neighbourhood mother in disguise, quickly turned nasty.
A recent study by University of Toronto social work professor Faye Mishna found the Internet has extended bullying beyond the schoolyard by creating new tormentors. Three-quarters of online bullies would not pursue their victims offline, she found, perhaps because of a false sense of anonymity and detachment on the Internet.
In an interview Friday, Prof. Mishna said while online bullying is extremely serious, it largely happens among peer groups and is best targeted through education and intervention. Criminalizing it would not be effective, she said, except in extreme cases.
The Canadian Teachers' Federation policy that was pass Saturday states that “using information and communication technology to convey a message which threatens death or bodily harm or perpetuates fear and intimidation in another constitutes a punishable offence under the Code.”
The policy calls for provisions in collective agreements that recognize teachers' right to work in environments free from cybermisconduct and cyberbullying. The group also wants provincial education ministries to provide “explicit protection” for teachers and students against such behaviour.
As well, the policy calls for amendments to workers compensation legislation to include protection from cyberbullying.