Cyberbullying Investigative Unit a First in Canada

first_img Status of Women Minister Marilyn More is co-ordinating the provincial action. She is meeting with community and women’s groups, youth and others to seek their advice. She is also meeting with Wayne MacKay, who chaired the task force on bullying and cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying and technology is changing the world around us at a rapid pace, but technology is only a tool,” said Ms. More. “The reason that technology is used to cause hurt and harm link to broader issues around sexual violence, issues that have evolved over generations. “Nova Scotia is not alone in the need to respond to this tremendous challenge, but I am inspired by the countless groups and individuals who have asked what they can do.” Ms. More also thanked the cyberbullying task force members for their advice that is shaping the way forward. “This collective energy and will presents an opportunity to make a real difference, and to better protect girls, women and all Nova Scotians,” she said. More information on where people can turn if they need help is available at www.novascotia.ca . Victims will be better protected and cyberbullies will be held accountable for their actions, with legislative changes, including a new Cyber-Safety Act the province introduced today, April 25. The legislation will create the country’s first cyber-investigative unit and allow families and victims to get protection orders from the court. School principals will also have clear authority to act against bullying or cyberbullying, on or off school grounds. “For too long, cyberbullies have been able to torment others, knowing the authorities would have a hard time holding them accountable,” said Justice Minister Ross Landry. “That is about to change. “This legislation will help identify cyberbullies who often hide behind IP addresses or off school grounds, and stop their harmful actions.” The province is creating a new Cyber SCAN investigative unit within the Justice Department. Investigators will respond quickly to complaints, negotiate formal or informal resolutions and, if necessary, seek a cyberbullying prevention order. The court may order a person stop the online communication. The unit will be up and running this fall. Education Act amendments will also reflect the need for school boards to co-operate fully with investigators. “We need to remember that students who are cyberbullying are young people, too, and some do not understand the seriousness of their behaviour,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex. “Having an investigator come to their door can, very quickly, take away their keyboard courage, stopping the harmful action and teaching young people to take responsibility and make better decisions in future.” The legislation will also allow victims and their families to seek a court protection order. Similar to an order that can be sought by the cyber-investigative unit, it can ban a person from contacting the victim, talking about them online, or using any means of electronic communication. Courts could also order computers, smartphones or tablets be confiscated. “As a student attending high school, I feel that if I were to ever come across a problem such as cyberbullying, I would feel more than comfortable going to a teacher or an adult,” said Hilary Beck, a Grade 12 student at Halifax West High School. “If this was done to me or another student, the ability to speak to an adult is so important during these times.” Victims will also be able to file a legal action against cyberbullies. If the cyberbully is a minor, their parents could be liable for damages. The events leading up to Rehtaeh Parsons’s tragic death earlier this month made the need clear for swift and comprehensive actions. Other provincial actions include: pushing for changes to the Criminal Code reviewing how the Halifax Regional School Board, IWK Health Centre, Capital Health and associated agencies approached events leading up to Ms. Parsons’s death reviewing how the police and Public Prosecution Service handled the case, immediately after the criminal process co-ordinating a public education campaignlast_img read more

Marking World Population Day UN urges support for reproductive health services

United Nations officials observed World Population Day today by calling for greater support for reproductive health strategies as one of the key tools in the wider battle against poverty.In a message to mark the occasion, Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled that eight years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, countries committed themselves to the goal of providing universal access to reproductive health services by the year 2015. That target was part of a larger package aimed at empowering women, promoting gender equality, slowing and eventually stabilizing population growth, and fostering sustainable development.Since then, improved levels of schooling, higher survival rates of children, and better access to reproductive health services, including voluntary family planning, have helped to advance the Cairo agenda, Mr. Annan noted.“This virtuous circle in turn makes further progress possible,” the Secretary-General said. “When individuals and couples are given a real choice, many decide to have smaller, healthier families and invest more in each child’s future. And because there are fewer dependents to support, the downturn in fertility translates into potential economic growth within a generation.”Echoing that theme, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Thoraya Obaid, said in a message that the men and women stuck in extreme poverty lacked opportunities and basic services to improve their situations, and urged greater efforts to support family planning.The Executive Director also pointed out that perhaps nowhere was the need for reproductive health services more urgent than in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “Of all groups, women and youth are the most vulnerable,” she said. “Reproductive health services that empower women and young people with HIV/AIDS life-saving messages and skills will help stop HIV/AIDS from spreading and reduce further suffering and social and economic disruption.”Ms. Obaid said that the war on poverty would not be won unless more resources were directed to women and reproductive health. “Developing countries that have invested in health and education, enabling women to make their own fertility choices, have registered faster economic growth than those that have not,” she noted. “When couples can choose the number, timing and spacing of their children, they are better able to ensure there are enough resources for each family member to prosper and thrive.” read more