Cyberbullying is a serious crime that needs to be dealt with at the legal level. According to Statistics Canada, 1 in 5 young Canadians are cyberbullied or cyberstalked. Any form of bullying, including cyberbullying, can have a lasting impact on the target and in some cases may lead to other forms of crime.
As per the Canadian Red cross association, there are various types of cyberbullying, namely:
Harassment: In the digital world, harassment could mean a lot of things, such as sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages.
Denigration: This form of bullying falls majorly in the category of defamation. Circulating wrong information about someone or altered photos of them without their consent are some examples.
Flaming: Online arguments or fights that involve the use of vulgar or abusive language is also considered to be cyberbullying.
Impersonation: This involves hacking someone’s account and using their personal or online identity to post unpleasant material about others or themselves.
Cyberstalking: Sending threatening or harmful messages to somebody repeatedly would be considered as cyberstalking.
What does the Law Say?
Cyberbullying is addressed by two sets of laws, namely the Civil law and the Criminal law.
The Civil Law takes three approaches to deal with cyberbullying.
- A cyberbully could be engaged in defamation.
- The person cyberbullying may be responsible for creating an unsafe environment by making the victim feel that he or she cannot go to school without facing violence, teasing, or exclusion.
- A person is responsible for any consequences that he or she might reasonably have guessed would happen.
Under criminal law, there are two approaches to deal with cyberbullying.
- Harassment is a crime under Criminal Code.
- Defamatory libel is a crime under the Criminal Code.
- Publishing images without consent is a crime under the Criminal Code.
Apart from the above two sets of laws, there are other laws for cyberbullying at the provincial level as well.
In Alberta, the Education Act is the main governing bylaw for cyberbullying. It defines bullying as “repeated and hostile or demeaning behaviour by an individual in the school community where the behaviour is intended to cause harm, fear or distress to one or more other individuals in the school community, including psychological harm or harm to an individual’s reputation”. It encourages students to report cyberbullying if they witness it. The act penalizes them with expulsion or suspension if they fail to report instances of cyberbullying. The overarching focus of this Act is to provide a welcoming, caring, respectful, and safe learning environment that focuses on the establishment of code of conduct for students that address bullying behaviour.
With the awareness of the laws that combat cyberbullying, you clearly know that cyberbullying is a punishable offence. So, if you face or witness acts that would be termed as cyberbullying, then consult with experts at law firms in Alberta.