Most bullying happens at school. Young people try to intimidate and ridicule others with threats, attitudes, violence or simply by ignoring them. The victim is isolated and can often find no solace except at home and on the internet.
But with new technologies (e.g., email, websites, chat rooms, instant messaging and text messaging), bullying victims are no longer safe, even on the internet. Online bullying is called cyberbullying. It uses technology to move bullying outside of the school setting and into the web environment.
For example, sending nasty, threatening or aggressive emails or text messages online or using a cell phone is considered cyberbullying. Ridiculing or embarrassing classmates by posting photos of them online is another example of cyberbullying.
The consequences of bullying are different for different victims, ranging from loss of self-esteem to depression and even, in some cases, suicide.
In addition to the negative consequences for the victim, some cyberbullying behaviour actually breaks laws in the Criminal Code of Canada. For example, the Criminal Code deals with the following issues:
Defamatory libel (section 301)
Example: Using internet technology such as websites to ridicule others by telling stories, jokes or posting images.
Extortion (section 346(1))
Example: Sending threatening emails to classmates to demand they bring valuable objects to school.
Criminal harassment (section 264(1))
Example: Using internet technology to repeatedly communicate with someone knowing they feel harassed.
False messages (section 372(1))
Example: Using an electronic messaging system to sent false information with the intention of harming someone.
Uttering threats (section 264.1)
Example: Using a messaging system to send threatening emails to people.