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Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is posting threatening, hateful, offensive or degrading messages about someone, using words or images. It also includes harassment.

Cyberbullying can use many different means:

  • Email
  • Chat rooms
  • Discussion groups
  • Websites
  • Instant messaging

The consequences of bullying are different for each victim, ranging from loss of self-esteem to depression and even, in some cases, suicide.

Cyberbullying can be a crime

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

Example: Using Internet technology such as websites to ridicule others by telling stories, jokes or posting images.

Extortion

Example: Sending threatening emails to classmates to demand they bring valuable objects to school.

Criminal harassment

Example: Using Internet technology to repeatedly communicate with someone knowing they feel harassed.

False messages

Example: Using an electronic messaging system to send false information with the intention of harming someone.

Uttering threats

Example: Using a messaging system to send threatening emails to people.

What to do?

What should I do if I receive a threatening email?

You can file a complaint at your neighbourhood Police station. Make sure you do not erase the message(s) so you can provide proof for the investigation. A Police Officer will contact you to ask you to forward the full headers of the message(s).

What should I do if someone makes a webpage full of insults and lies about me?

In some cases, this may be a criminal infraction (see below), but since there are provisions of the Civil Code that apply specifically to respecting reputation and privacy, your best recourse is usually to go to the civil courts.

Prevention tips

  • Leave the online environment when the situation becomes a problem (e.g., if you receive a threatening email) and tell an adult you trust.
  • Never disclose personal information such as your name, address, phone number or passwords.
  • Avoid entering the bully's arena by not responding to bullying messages.
  • Alert the Internet service provider or cell phone company, as applicable.
  • Alert the local police department if you suspect a crime has been committed.

Find out more

For more information about bullying and cyberbullying:

Bullying

Cybertip 

Kids Help Phone

Tel-jeunes

Internet101

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