MP Guy Lauzon writes: My very first appointment last week was a real eye opener for me. It was with a young teacher, accompanied by her mother. This compassionate, very articulate young woman, Jocelyn, proceeded to tell me about a number of her students who were being cyberbullied. These teenage girls are being slandered on a website originating in Latvia. Anyone, anywhere in the world, could access the site and spread lies and rumours about anyone else anonymously. Quite frankly I was shocked at the information she provided to me about this website. That’s the problem with the current state of cyberspace; it is like the Wild West 150 years ago. Anything goes.
Jocelyn recounted how a number of her young female students’ reputations are being severely damaged and possibly ruined by unscrupulous, malicious individuals posting lies and false rumours on the site. It is having a tremendous effect on these young vulnerable victims. Many of them are suffering anxiety, depression, and worse. She explained that social media spreads like wildfire. Instantly all these lies are spread locally and within minutes of being posted, they are circulated to thousands via twitter and facebook.
I am happy that our Government is looking for ways to hold cyberbullies accountable for their actions. Following the tragic suicide of two Canadian teenagers due to cyberbullying, federal, provincial and territorial ministers of justice and public safety directed senior officials to identify potential gaps in the Criminal Code with regards to cyberbullying. The Prime Minister has been clear on this issue. “There is a point where bullying goes beyond youth misbehaving and becomes criminal activity. While I cannot comment on specific cases, I can say that we need to put a stop to cyberbullying.”
It is very frustrating that people anonymously use the internet to do immoral and unlawful things they would otherwise not do. We must address this ongoing scourge. In the meantime we need to offer as much assistance to our young people as possible. I believe we need to protect our children from online exploitation. I commend Jocelyn for championing this cause. I also applaud the Prime Minister’s wife, Laureen, for promoting the website www.NeedHelpNow.ca. This website is useful for parents and children alike to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from harm and to help us navigate the use of new technologies properly.
I strongly suggest everyone visit this very helpful and informative site.
–Guy Lauzon (Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry)