A report to the provincial government calls for more measures to be put in place to educate children about – and protect them from – the effects of cyberbullying.

The dangers of cyberbullying

Developmentally appropriate learning objectives about cyberbullying and digital citizenship

Last week, B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham presented a report to the provincial government calling for more measures to be put in place to educate children about – and protect them from – the effects of cyberbullying.

The report called for “developmentally appropriate learning objectives about cyberbullying and digital citizenship (to) be included in the provincial school curriculum and delivered to all school-age children as soon as possible. These subjects should further be included as a mandatory part of professional development programs for all B.C. teachers going forward.”

The government, in response to the report issued a release saying they will be “responding to the recommendations with an action plan on this report.”

The government also says “the redesigned curriculum launched this fall includes a focus on all bullying behaviour and discrimination starting in Grade 4. The ministry has also developed a digital literacy framework resource fort teachers, which includes developmental appropriate learning objectives about cyberbullying, Internet safety, privacy and security, relationships and communication.”

Campbell River counsellor Rod Chant, who puts on workshops on cyberbullying for students and parents, told the Mirror at his last event at the Robron Centre that dealing with technology issues needs to start at home, so it won’t make its way into the schools in the first place – or at least won’t be so dangerous when it does.

Chant feels the most important and positive way that we, as a society, can address this issue, is by encouraging positivity in our children and encouraging them to engage in open and honest conversation with the authority figures in their lives – most importantly their parents.

“It’s about taking the time to listen to your kids, and making sure they feel supported and validated by coming to someone when they’re concerned about something,” he says.

Many parents are also failing to set a good example for their kids when it comes to over-reliance and too-frequent focus on technology.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve seen parents at the park with their kids,” he said, “and they’re on their phone while the kid is trying to get them to play with them.”

That type of behaviour from parents not only encourages their kids to immerse themselves in the online world rather than engage positively with those around them, Chant says, but also discourages them from coming to their parents when something is bothering them, he said, because they will turn back to online support instead, as that’s where they will feel most accepted – and therefore susceptible to cyberbullying. Read the full report from Turpel-Lafond and Denham at the website of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner at oipc.bc.ca in the section labeled “Newsroom.”