Clicks and Stones: Cyberbullying in Canadian Schools

AuthorEric M. Roher
Clicks and Stones
Cyberbullying in Canadian Schools
Eric M Roher*
The issue of cyb erbullyi ng is now recogni zed as a severe a nd pervasive
problem aecti ng Canadian sc hools. A 2010 cyberbullyi ng research study
led by Faye Mishna, D ean of the Faculty of Soc ial Work of the University of
Toronto, found that 49.5 percent of students sur veyed had been victi ms of
cyberbully ing.1 The majority of pa rticipants repor ted that they did not t ell
anybody about the bu llying, nor did they tak e any measures in response
to the bully ing.2 The study a lso indicat ed that just over one-t hird of par-
ticipants i ndicated that they had bu llied others onl ine.3
Recent Canadi an research indicate s:
1) 47 percent of Canadi an parents have a child who h as been bullied.
2) Girls are more lik ely than boys to exper ience cyberbullyi ng.
3) 73 percent of cyberbullyi ng victim s report receiv ing threate ning or
aggressive tex ts, emails, or in stant messages.
* The author wi shes to than k Nevena Urosevic , Naveen Hassan , and Betha n Din-
ning for th eir thorough a nd insightf ul researc h in the prepara tion of this ch apter.
1 Faye Mishna e t al, “Cyber Bul lying Behav iors among Middle a nd High School
Students” (2010) 80 Ameri can Journal of Orthopsychiatry 362 at 364 [M ishna et al ,
“Cyber Bully ing Behaviors”].
2 Ibid at 365.
3 Ibid.
228 / Eric M Roher
4) Cyberbul lying is t he number one form of low-level violence th at oc-
curs in Ca nadian schools.4
The Royal Can adian Mounte d Police identif y cyberbul lying as u sing
“communication tech nologies such as the I nternet, soci al networki ng
sites, websites, emai l, text messag ing and in stant messag ing to repeat-
edly inti midate or hara ss others.”5 Cyberbullies hide beh ind computer,
gaming, or te lephone screens as the y attempt to th reaten, inti midate, or
harass t heir victims. T hese individuals of ten believe that the y are beyond
the reach of the law a nd are not subject to school disc ipline.
A critical concer n with cy berbullyi ng is that it does not stop when
the victi m is out of sight of the bul ly. The bullies reac h their vict ims at
school, home, and at work. Unl ike in years past when bul lies had to be in
the presence of their v ictims, the home i s no longer a safety zone. With t he
prevalence of elect ronic devices, cyberbu llies have access to their v ictims
twenty-four hours a d ay, seven days a week.
Queen’s University professor Dr Wendy Craig re ported that s tudents
who are victi ms of bullying often e xperience headaches, trouble sleeping ,
anger, self-esteem is sues, suicida l tendencies, peer con ict, substa nce
abuse, and academ ic strug gles.6 Research indicates that su icide accounts
for 24 percent of al l deaths among ft een to twenty-four-year-olds, makin g
it the second leadin g cause of death for young Canadi ans.7 Cyberbullying
can be an impor tant contributin g factor to teenage suicide.
However, this conclusion i s not limited to st atistica l data. It is re-
inforced th rough the incr easing incidences of young student s tragical ly
takin g their lives as a res ult of cyberbul lying. For example, i n January 2011,
Nova Scotia st udent Jenna Bowers-Bryanton, an a spiring singer an d song-
writer, kil led herself after mont hs of bullying at school an d online. Jamie
Hubley, an Ottawa teen, a lso took his own l ife in October 2011 at the age
of fteen, a fter years of bu llying at s chool and on the Inter net. Amanda
Todd, a Vancouver-area teenager who posted a story on YouTube about be-
ing cyberbu llied, took her own li fe in 2012. Another recent ex ample of the
4 Canadian I nstitutes of Hea lth Researc h, “Canadia n Bullying St atistics” (2012),
online: ww
5 Royal Canadi an Mounted Police, “ Bullying a nd Cyberbull ying” (5 May 2016),
online: w pcj/bull-int i/index-eng.htm.
6 Nova Scotia Task F orce on Bullying a nd Cyberbul lying, Respect ful and Responsibl e
Relationships: T here’s No App for That by A Wayne M acKay, Chair (29 Febru ary 2012)
at 10 [Nova Scotia C yberbully ing Report].
7 Ibid.

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