What to Do When Experiencing Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying involves harassing an individual with threatening, hateful, abusive, or degrading comments or images, whether illustrated or written.

It represents aggression using new technologies that employ verbal, psychological, and sexual violence against others with the intent to harm, intimidate, or damage them. The repetitive nature and purpose of hurt are what characterize cyberbullying.

A single hateful message does not constitute cyberbullying. However, prompt intervention can prevent it from escalating. On the other hand, when someone notices that they are targeted on social media daily to be demeaned and receive disparaging messages, it is considered cyberbullying.

Those who send such messages often forget about them, considering them trivial and done once sent. However, it’s not as quickly forgotten by the recipient. They can review the messages as often as they wish, which usually happens with a hateful message. It causes worry, sadness, and repeated reading.

Preventative Tips

Here are some preventative tips to discuss with your child regarding cyberbullying:

IMMEDIATELY leave the online environment when the situation becomes problematic (e.g., receiving a threatening email) and notify a trusted adult.
AVOID responding to hateful or threatening messages. The bully is waiting for this and will use it against them, with or without others’ help.
REFRAIN from sharing personal information**: name, age, address, phone number, passwords, etc.
BLOCK the addresses or individuals bullying them. Blocking people, addresses, or numbers on social media, email, or phone is possible.
TRACE the origins of intimidating messages and contact Internet or cellular service providers as applicable.
SAVE all received bullying emails, texts, or instant messages.
ALERT the local police if there’s suspicion of a criminal offense.

Indeed, some cyberbullying issues represent offenses under the Canadian Criminal Code. For example, provisions exist in cases of:

Defamatory Libel: Using Internet technologies like websites to ridicule others by telling stories, jokes, or displaying images.
Extortion: Sending threatening emails to classmates demanding they bring valuable items to school or money.
Criminal Harassment: Using information technologies to communicate repeatedly with someone knowing they feel harassed.
False Messages: False information is transmitted via an electronic messaging system intending to harm someone.
Uttering Threats: Using a messaging system to send threatening emails to others.

To REPORT cyberbullying in Quebec and Canada, you can follow these steps:

1. Evidence Collection: Gather screenshots, messages, emails, or any other evidence of cyberbullying. These will be useful when reporting the issue.

2. Report to the Platform: If cyberbullying occurs online (like social media, forums, etc.), report the abusive behavior to the platform. Each platform has its reporting mechanisms.

3. Police Report: If the situation is serious, threatening, or criminal, you should file a report with the police. You can contact your local police department for advice on how to proceed.

4. CyberTip.ca: In Canada, you can visit CyberTip.ca, which provides information and resources to address cyberbullying. The organization also offers phone support.

5. Canadian Centre for Child Protection: If cyberbullying involves a child or teenager, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection offers advice and support services for parents and youths.

6. Report to Cybersecurity Canada: If the situation involves national security or severe online threats, you can report the incident to the Canadian Cyber Security Agency.

7. Social Networks and Websites: Most major online platforms have built-in reporting mechanisms for abusive behaviors and cyberbullying. Use them to report problematic content.

Remember to protect your online safety, such as protecting your personal information and managing your privacy settings. Adults should be able to guide youths regarding these essential measures.

If you are in immediate danger, do not hesitate to contact the police. It’s essential to report any threatening or dangerous behavior.

Adapted from “Parental Information Guide on Violence and Bullying at School” by Jean-Sébastien Bourré, Jasmin Roy Sophie Desmarais Foundation, 2016.

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