Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Human Rights

Issue 14, Evidence


OTTAWA, Monday, June 4, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 1:36 p.m. to study the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada's international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer (Chair) in the chair.

[Translation]

The Chair: Honourable senators, this is the 16th meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights of the 41st Parliament. We have a mandate from the Senate to study human rights issues in Canada and around the world.

My name is Mobina Jaffer, and as the chair of this committee, I am pleased to welcome you to this meeting.

[English]

I would like members of the committee to introduce themselves.

Senator Ataullahjan: I am Senator Salma Ataullahjan from Toronto, Ontario.

Senator White: Vern White from Ottawa, Ontario.

Senator Meredith: I am Senator Don Meredith from Toronto.

Senator Harb: Mac Harb from Ontario.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Fernand Robichaud, Saint-Louis-de-Kent in New Brunswick.

[English]

The Chair: It looks like we have so many Ontario senators on this committee; we will have to hear from Ontario with respect to what they are doing on bullying.

[Translation]

On March 15, 2001, the Senate amended its Rules to create a new standing committee, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights. This committee has a number of duties, such as educating the public, ensuring that international laws and principles pertaining to human rights are applied and respected, and ensuring that Canadian laws and policies are enforced properly, in compliance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

On November 23, our committee submitted a report on the sexual exploitation of children. During our study, we examined the causes of child sexual exploitation and focused on the role played by the Internet. It was brought to our attention that the Internet has broadened the scope of sexual exploitation by facilitating direct and anonymous contact. After identifying the role the Internet plays in the sexual exploitation of children, our committee decided to look into the other ways in which the Internet compromises the safety of our children.

On November 30, 2011, the Senate gave our committee the mandate to examine and report on the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada's international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[English]

On November 30, 2011, the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights was authorized by the Senate to examine the report upon the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada's international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On April 18, 2011, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that mental violence, as framed in Article 19 of the convention, can include:

Psychological bullying and hazing by adults or other children, including via information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile phones and the Internet (known as "cyberbullying").

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights is aware that the face of bullying has changed. For now it has moved from classrooms and schoolyards into the security of our homes by the way of the Internet. In addition to the social, verbal and physical abuse, many children today are forced to endure cyberbullying, which is yet an additional challenge to young people.

Cyberbullying as defined by the Montreal police is the posting of threatening or degrading messages about someone using words and images, and it also includes harassment. Cyberbullying takes place through emails, in chat rooms, in discussion groups, on websites and through instant messaging. This is a problem that many of our young people are facing. In fact, recent studies have indicated that 25 per cent of young Net surfers say they have received hate messages from other people via email.

Over the past decade, we have watched bullying move from our classrooms and playgrounds into our homes by way of the Internet. With the popularity of handheld devices and smartphones today, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to escape cyberbullies. One can even make the argument that handheld devices, like BlackBerrys and iPhones, have become a part of many young people's anatomy as they are rarely separated from these devices.

Without protection and assistance, many children who are victims of cyberbullying are left to face these challenges alone. Our committee intends to examine ways in which we both protect and assist our children.

The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights understands how important it is to include in our study the voices of young people who are affected by cyberbullying. That is why I am extremely pleased today to welcome back Mr. Bill Belsey, who is joining us by video conference, along with several students. Mr. Belsey, you have appeared in front of this committee before, and we were very struck by your presentation. You certainly raised many issues with us. Since that hearing, you have continued to work with us, and we are very appreciative that you have made available today your class of grade 8 students, ages 13 and 14, for them to share with us their concerns about cyberbullying.

Senators, as you can see from the list in front of you, there are many witnesses. Therefore, I will ask your indulgence that for each witness we will have a maximum of two senators ask the questions. I do not mean to limit you, so if there is a third senator who really wants to ask a question of that witness, I will not stop it. However, for us to be able to get through all these witnesses, I will need your indulgence. Is that acceptable, senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Mr. Belsey, I will have you make some introductory remarks and then call the first witness.

Bill Belsey, Teacher, Springbank Middle School: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I will keep my comments extremely brief today. It was an honour to have presented before you back in December 2011.

When I first coined the term "cyberbullying" over a decade ago, there were many people who did not take me very seriously. Sadly and tragically, we have lost the lives of many young people, and many others have been hurt and intimidated with respect to this issue. Just prior to my departure from Parliament Hill, I suggested you might consider hearing from young people, and I am so thrilled and proud as their teacher that my grade 8 students will have the opportunity to share their voices. I think this is really critical.

Without further ado, I will let my students take it from here. Is there a particular order you would like to have them called to present, or would you like me to simply select them?

The Chair: I will have you select them however you think they will be comfortable. However, before you stop, I am sure my colleagues and the audience that will be watching this program are curious as to what is in the background. Can you quickly explain what is in the background? Then I will leave it to your good hands as to which students will speak first and their order.

Mr. Belsey: Yes, I should explain right away that we are sharing this videocast with you from Springbank Middle School. We are a school from grades 5 to 8 with over 500 staff and students. When we heard that we had the opportunity to introduce other facets of the school, students wanted to help and support. This is a hand-painted backdrop. It says "Springbank Middle School fights cyberbullying." In the middle is the eagle, which is the symbol of the Springbank Middle School. I am just thrilled by it. Kalli, Katie, Connor, Malana and Kailey were the artists who did this, and I am incredibly proud they did it. They painted it all by hand.

I realize, technically, it is a bit busy for a background, but they put their hearts into it, and so we are really proud to have their help and support. This is what you will be seeing behind the students who will be presenting this morning.

The Chair: Okay. Please have the first student come and address us.

Mr. Belsey: I will call upon Samantha Hoogveld.

The Chair: Samantha, thank you for being the first student. It is always difficult. Please introduce yourself, including your full name and your grade, and then start with your remarks.

Samantha Hoogveld, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators, my name is Samantha Hoogveld, and it is an honour to present to you today. I am in grade 8.

Earlier this year, I did a position paper in Mr. Belsey's class on female relational aggression. Being a girl myself I know that girls will do anything to stay in top of the food chain in their school or community. I have several reasons why I think that. First, they will take each other down socially, not so much physically. Second, they can turn on each other's backs just from hearing a simple rumour that may not be true. Third, they will hide behind technology, such as texting, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, et cetera.

One of the most common ways that bullying is being done today is online in the virtual world. Girls will target other girls because they are in competition over each other's attention, popularity and overall happiness. Most of the time, it is just to prove that they have more power over another girl or that simply they can just push them around.

In a girl's world, you never know when you will come to school the next day and have everyone turn their backs on you from someone just simply starting a rumour about you. A lot of girls will not go looking for the truth when something close enough to the truth is in easy reach. They constantly talk about each other behind each other's backs, make fun of each other, and judge.

From girls' insecurities about their imperfections to their competitiveness to be the best and anxieties over not measuring up, they can really be cruel when they want to, and that cruelty can be greatly amplified online. More technology means new and more ways of cyberbullying. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media are what girls will hide behind when it comes to bullying each other. When you are on the Internet, you can and will feel like you can say and do anything you want with no one finding out what you are doing. After a while, bullying can really cut you deep inside and may change you forever. When a girl wants to say something about another girl but does not have the courage to do it face to face, she will go immediately to the online world, and sometimes not even considering the option of face-to-face bullying. This is when people can become withdrawn, because identities can be concealed and hidden online.

On the Internet, it can feel like a faceless crowd, hidden behind personal anonymity, when girls will start breaking rules and become bullies. When you are surrounded by virtual people, you can be motivated to bully and not feel so guilty insulting someone you do not particularly like. You can feel like no one can discover what you are saying while you are under the cover of an avatar online.

Typically, girls will use indirect means such as backbiting, manipulation in social circles, and creating cliques to cause mental pain, which may become physical pain that they inflict on themselves. Indirect aggression is a type of behaviour to attempt to hurt someone in such a manner that it makes it seem like there was no intention to hurt them at all. Girls will usually have much more difficulty getting over the problem, even if it was only a rumour. They will struggle with the emotional fallout of maybe years of relational aggression.

Now that I have thought about it, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, girls are terrible bullies to each other. Girls will torment each other emotionally and, the rare time, even physically. They can be driven to suicide from each other's hurtful rumours from around their school and so much online, getting haunted by their own peers.

I would really like this to stop. Cyberbullying is becoming worse and worse every day. I think once there is a consequence for cyberbullying, people stop and consider their actions.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Hoogveld. There are some senators who would like to ask you questions, and we will start off with Senator Ataullahjan.

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you, Ms. Hoogveld. As an artist, the artwork is lovely and I appreciate that.

Ms. Hoogveld, I wanted to ask you the following: How often do you use social media such as Facebook and Twitter? How often are you online?

Ms. Hoogveld: I use it multiple times a day. I have my cellphone. I am on Facebook and Tumblr. I use it quite often.

Senator Ataullahjan: When you say "quite often" that is, what, 10, 20, 30 times?

Ms. Hoogveld: Maybe 30 times a day.

Senator Ataullahjan: How many email accounts do you have?

Ms. Hoogveld: I have two accounts, but I do not often use them.

Senator Ataullahjan: You are basically on Facebook, and that is what you use most of the time?

Ms. Hoogveld: Yes, and I do a lot of texting.

Senator Ataullahjan: I was just looking at a study that was recently released, and they are saying that, on average, kids get 189 texts per day. Would that be true, or is it less than that?

Ms. Hoogveld: Depending on the person, it can be even more than that, but I would say that is average, yes.

Senator Meredith: Thank you, Ms. Hoogveld, for your presentation. I admire your courage, along with the other students, for taking on this fight and ensuring that other young people feel supported.

One of my questions to you, Ms. Hoogveld, is the following: What support does the school provide when you know someone has been cyberbullied or been bullied at school?

Ms. Hoogveld: I think, depending on the school, there is a lot of support with the CDA and the office. They can really help you. Even if you know someone who is getting cyberbullied, they will do everything they can to make it stop.

Senator Meredith: How do you encourage others that you know have been cyberbullied? What do you do?

Ms. Hoogveld: I would say just go talk to a parent and make sure that it is being stopped and that you are not just alone in the world of cyberbullying.

Senator Meredith: Thank you so much, Ms. Hoogveld.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Hoogveld.

May we have the next speaker?

Mariel Calvo, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators. I will be speaking about how it feels to be cyberbullied, whether or not this is an issue in Canada, and what I think we could do about it.

Cyberbullying is a huge issue to Canadian teenagers throughout the country. To those people who say that it is nothing, that it is not a big deal and that it is teenagers being dramatic, that is completely wrong. It affects our lives enormously. The outcome of this harassment can lead to poor performance at school, low self-esteem and serious emotional consequences, including depression and suicide, so it is much more than just teenagers being dramatic.

The biggest difference between being bullied while in the classroom or playground and being cyberbullied is that we can be targets of cyberbullying 24/7, and that makes you feel as if there is no safe place. Whenever you are at school or home, everywhere you go, you can be a target of this. That puts a huge dent in your life, because you are always pretty shaken up by this and kind of scared.

On the Internet, you can be anyone. You can act in a certain way and say certain things that normally you would not. You have a lot of power when you go online. I find that a lot of teenagers abuse that power and use it just to hurt others.

Some kids make Facebook groups or pages where the sole purpose is to make fun of or humiliate one of their peers. They actually send invites or something like that. They send it out and they say, "Yeah, join this group that is making fun of you and that is saying these awful things about you." It is not nice, and it really hurts. They also send threatening text messages or comments to another person. They start or spread rumours about someone, but it does not just have to be people from your school.

There is a website called Tumblr, and you can send anonymous messages. A lot of people send hate, and they call it "anon hate." These people, who have probably never even met you before, call you fat, ugly and stupid. They tell you to go die sometimes, and they tell you that no one cares about you. Once you hear this enough, you start to believe it. I have heard stories, and I have seen a lot of people get so hurt from this that they physically harm themselves, because every day they would have to come home from school and see this stuff written about them and to them, and they did not do anything wrong.

What could we do to prevent this? That is really difficult, I think, because cyberbullying is cyber. It is on text messages. It is using technology. We obviously cannot cut that out. I have seen six-year-olds walking around with iPhones, and I do not even have a phone.

You cannot cut technology out. However, I think that making a law about it would not do much, because I just do not think that teenagers would listen. It just does not seem real enough. It might make them a bit more aware and careful of what they say or do, but I do not think they would stop.

What I think we should do is get people speaking about it, get people aware, and make sure that everybody knows what this does to people and how it harms people, how it consumes your life completely. Also, as I said before, there are little kids walking around with this technology in their hands. If we teach them from a young age how to use it properly and how to use it in a non-negative fashion, I think that would help a lot and prevent a lot of cyberbullying.

That is what I think. Thank you.

The Chair: Both of you have given us a lot of information. Do you think that before a parent buys, especially for a six year old or for a young child, an iPhone or a BlackBerry, there should be some kind of education for the parent as to the bullying that can occur through that device?

Ms. Calvo: Yes, definitely. I think that if parents teach their kids and if they are aware, just as equally as everyone, it could prevent a lot and it could really, I think, fix this problem. Personally, I actually do not think six year olds should have phones. I am 14. I do not have a phone and I really do not need one. Yes, I think parents should be aware, and they should know and should talk to their kids.

Senator Robichaud: How many youth in your age group have the means to communicate? How would a person in your age group feel if they did not have that phone or whatever other things that they need to communicate? Would they not feel left out?

Ms. Calvo: Yes. I think it also depends on who you are. Some kids my age do not have Facebook or anything; they are okay with it. Really, in our generation, it is how we connect with each other; it is our social life. People make friends over Facebook and Tumblr and whatever. That is how they meet people. That probably sounds very odd to you guys because you are older and —

Senator Robichaud: We are old; we are.

Ms. Calvo: It is the way we connect. If you cut those out, yes, you definitely would feel left out. Personally, sometimes, yes, I feel left out. I go to school the next day — and I did not go online the night before — and everyone is talking about something and I have no idea what is going on. It makes you feel left out because that is where everything happens, online.

Senator Meredith: You do not need a cell phone; it gets too expensive.

Ms. Calvo, I thank you for your comments. You said that making a law will not allow young people to act more responsible and they will not listen to it. What do you think we should do with the parents or what do you think parents should be doing about talking to their kids about technology and the impacts that they will have when they use that technology in a negative way? Do you think parents are doing a good job or a terrible job there?

Ms. Calvo: I think it depends on your relationship with your parent. If you talk to your mom or dad a lot, then you can talk about this, but if you don't and you kind of shut them out — my brother does not talk to my parents about anything that he does online — it all depends on how your relationship with your parents is. Sometimes parents do need to improve and get more involved with their children. I think that would also help because they could talk about this.

A lot of kids who are being cyberbullied do not come forward and do not talk about it and it eats them up inside. That is a big problem, too. If you talk about it with your parents you can prevent it more and stop it.

Senator Meredith: You think parents need to speak to their young people more and find out what they are engaged with. If there is open communication, do you think this will help these young people who are being bullied to come and talk about what they are facing in the social media?

Ms. Calvo: Yes, definitely. If you feel comfortable talking to your parents or even if the adults come to you and they talk to you, I think that would help enormously.

Senator Meredith: When parents do find out that their young people have used the technology that they have purchased for them inappropriately, what are some of the consequences that you think should be meted out?

Ms. Calvo: I am not too sure. I cannot really speak to that because it is different with every family. Some parents would take all the phones and make them get rid of their Facebook and stuff; some may not even care. Personally, I do not know. I cannot speak for them, but I think an appropriate punishment would be to apologize and really just try to do right from wrong. I am not too sure; I have never actually been placed in that position.

Senator Meredith: You talked about a law not working and I am thinking that parents need to get more involved. They need to know exactly what their children are doing on Facebook or on Twitter and the damage that they are causing to other young people. They could use that somehow as an opportunity to teach their children about responsible usage and to ensure that there are some consequences so that it does not happen again.

You see firsthand how this behaviour is eating up young people and how it is driving some of your friends to suicide. You have read in the newspaper about other young people being bullied and taking their own lives. This is why we are here, working with your schools and others across the country. That is what this committee is trying to prevent.

I want to thank you for your time and for your input this afternoon.

Senator Ataullahjan: Ms. Calvo, you should be proud of yourself that you do not have a cellphone. It shows that you are not a follower. You will be a leader one day.

We talked about kids talking to their parents, but what happens if you cannot go to your parents? Who else can you turn to?

Ms. Calvo: Teachers, the CDA, even friends. If I had problems, I would turn to my friends; they have always been there for me. They can help. I see a lot of people get cyberbullied and they feel pathetic, weak and stupid, so they do not say anything. That is a big problem. Even with your friends, you think that no one can help, but really they can. There are many people out there willing to listen and to help you out and to help stop this.

Emily Dickey, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators. My name is Emily Dickey, and I am here to speak to you about the effects of cyberbullying and what I think needs to be done about it.

The Chair: Please go ahead. You can start your presentation.

Ms. Dickey: I think the worst part of cyberbullying — and I think a lot of other people would agree — is that the bullies can do it completely anonymously. It is like being stabbed in the back and having no way of knowing who did it. To the bully, they may type this message and send it and they may think of it as a joke; they may be being sarcastic. They have no way of knowing how the victim will react. They do not know what the victim will do.

I have really close friends, and a family member, who went through cyberbullying. They got anonymous messages every day on Formspring, Tumblr, Twitter and everything. They were told that they were ugly and that they should just kill themselves. They do not know who did it. They do not know if it is someone who they know personally or if it is just someone who goes around and sends these messages. They have actually considered suicide, and one of them has actually tried to kill themselves.

Kids all over Canada are receiving these awful messages and they do not know what is going on. They do not know what they did to deserve them; they did not do anything.

Cyberbullying does hurt. It drives people to suicide and to hurt themselves; it does all of these things. Yes, I think something obviously needs to be done about cyberbullying, but like Ms. Calvo said, I do not think passing a law will help much. Cyberbullying will still go on because if these victims are not reporting the bullying to their friends, family and schools, who says that they will want to report it so that the people to get in trouble with the RCMP?

I think students and kids who are going through this need to be able to talk to a professional without their parent finding out. I think there is a policy that they have to tell your parents. Maybe your parents are not understanding about it or they think you are just doing this for attention. They should be able to talk to someone who understands without their parents finding out.

Perhaps even a website like www.bullying.org could help. There should be more of those websites and the government could raise awareness that the victims are not alone; there are other people going through this and other people can help them.

The government also needs to raise awareness about the subject. I think maybe even adults do not know what cyberbullying is. Everyone needs to know how serious it really is. Thank you.

The Chair: We will go on to questions.

Senator Harb: Thank you very much for your excellent presentation. If you were to look at other forms of bullying — for example on the playground, in the gym or between classes — would you say cyberbullying is number one or number two? What is number one crisis grade 8 or grade 7 students are facing these days?

Ms. Dickey: I think cyberbullying is probably a lot more. Most kids are scared to say what they want to the victim's face, so they just do it online. It is just a lot easier for them, I guess you could say. Cyberbullying can also be a lot more hurtful because on the playground they say some things and it is hurtful, but with cyberbullying, people can write paragraphs and paragraphs about what they do not like about this person. They can make websites and private Facebook groups and gang up on them a lot easier.

Senator White: Thank you very much for your presentation today. Your school is seen to be one of the leaders when it comes to cyberbullying. Does your school have the correct rules in place when people cyberbully other children and if so, can you explain some of them to me?

Ms. Dickey: Yes, they have a lot of rules about it. If the victim reports it to the school then the person who did it can get in lots of trouble. They can get an in-school suspension or just suspension. It is not tolerated.

Senator White: Do those rules work in your opinion?

Ms. Dickey: I think they work if the victim comes forward with it, but a lot of the time the victim does not tell anyone; they just let it happen.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation.

Emilie Richards, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators, it is an honour to be presenting today. In my statement I will discuss how serious cyberbullying is, what it is like to be a victim, and what I think we can do about it.

Cyberbullying is a serious thing happening to students and even adults across the country. Someone told me there is a group of boys in her school who have a private Facebook group. They take pictures that people in younger grades post on Facebook and add rude and harsh things to them. They show them to the rest of the grade and eventually it makes it back to the person in the photo. That is one of the many examples of cyberbullying.

Imagine being the victim and the feeling of seeing the photo you thought you looked good in and being laughed at and called names. There is so much that goes unnoticed and victims that do not come up. They keep all of it inside of them and there is only so much you can take before you break. I know from personal experience that cyberbullying can have a huge toll on someone's life. I have been called every name in the book anonymously online. People have even gone as far as to tell me to kill myself. Fortunately, I did not, but messages pointing out all the things I am already insecure about get into your head little by little. It has caused me to do some crazy things to myself.

I strongly believe that education can help prevent cyberbullying by showing how it is to be at the receiving end, how the messages that they have given — and do not think twice about — can crash someone's self-esteem and to let victims know they are not alone. It is not embarrassing to come forward about it. They did not deserve it or bring it upon themselves; lots of people go through the same thing and they can get help.

I also believe that no matter how hard we try, bullying will always go on. People will always get jealous and say things they do not always mean. We can make people "bully aware," so everyone knows what is going on, what people use technology for these days, and how clicking send or post can really make a difference in someone's life. It can actually end it if you do not think twice about it.

Thank you for the honour of presenting today and I hope you take action on this very serious subject.

Senator Ataullahjan: Ms. Richards, thank you for your presentation. I think you are an incredibly brave girl to come and tell us about the problems you have had. Do you think most victims do not talk about cyberbullying? Do they just keep quiet and hope it will go away?

Ms. Richards: Yes, I believe that because I feel they think it is embarrassing to come up. They feel like it is only happening to them, that they are a freak or they deserve it, or there is a reason why it is happening. They do not feel like it is okay to come forward. They might not have someone they can go to. For some people, their parents might be half the problem and then with the cyberbullying, where do you go to if they do not trust anyone?

Senator Ataullahjan: How can we encourage kids to come forward? What can be done? How can we let them know they are not alone?

Ms. Richards: Make websites like bullying.org and tell them that unfortunately it is a common thing to go through and a lot of people have gone through the same thing. There are a lot of people who can come and help you. Keeping it inside is not a very good thing to do because you can only keep so much inside before you crack.

Senator Ataullahjan: Did anyone come to your defence when you were being cyberbullied? Did any of your friends speak on your behalf?

Ms. Richards: Yes.

Senator Ataullahjan: Did you find that helpful?

Ms. Richards: Oh, yes. There are more people in this classroom that this has been said to.

Senator Meredith: Thank you for your presentation. You talked about your personal experience. How did you cope with being bullied? What were some of the things that you did to ensure that you did not fall victim like others students or other kids across the country who have taken it to the next step of saying that they want to end their lives?

Ms. Richards: With Mr. Belsey and with our school, I have always kind of known that it is not just me. Most of these messages were directed to someone else as well, so just having her there too was really helpful. Most of the people in this room were there too. It is not just me that this happens to; there are a lot of us who have gone through it.

Senator Meredith: Having that support system around you of friends who have had similar experiences allowed you to cope?

Ms. Richards: Yes.

Senator Meredith: Did you talk to your parents about what you were going through?

Ms. Richards: No, I did not.

Senator Meredith: Why did you not? Why do you think that young people are so afraid to talk to the parents who love them and nurture them and bought them the technology that they are using? Why do you think that young people are so afraid to talk to their parents? Do you think that they will banish you from Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr? What do you think it is? Tell us today why students or individuals are so afraid to talk to their own parents?

Ms. Richards: I think it is because most of them are not very close to their parents. The parents go to work, and they go to school. Then they go off to do sports or whatever, and there is just not much time to talk to them and actually grow a connection with them to become friends instead of parents and daughter, parents and son. I did not really have that great connection, so I just did not tell them.

Senator Meredith: Thank you for that.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Richards. You were very brave in sharing your views with us.

Molly Turner, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators. My name is Molly Turner. It is an honour to be able to present to you today on the issue of cyberbullying in Canada. Cyberbullying is a huge issue. It may not seem like it, but it really is. An adult may think that it is one hurtful message or one mean text. It is never just one text or one message. It is a flood of snide comments and cruel words, and it is not always even said to the person directly. It can be a message saying some things about you that one person says to another, and then that person sends it to another person. Then, they send it to someone else until the whole school has heard about this thing that you supposedly did or said. Everyone has heard that saying, "Sticks and stones may breaks my bones, but words will never harm me" or some variation of that, but it is not true; words do hurt, even virtual ones.

I could tell you a lot of stories about cyberbullying. Way too many people I know have gone through this, but one of them really comes to mind when I think about how bullying affects people who are not even involved. On Tumblr, you can send an anonymous message, and no one will know who you are. Most of the time, I see this used by people who need advice on something deeply personal and do not want anyone to know who they are. I have seen teens go to others for help for anorexia, self-harm, relationship issues and a million and one other things that young people can help each other with.

I have some friends who run a really popular blog. They have so many followers it is amazing, and they get a lot of anonymous messages like that. A lot of young kids turn to them for help. They also get a lot of hate, so much that they had to turn off their anonymous setting. They cut off the ability of those other young people to turn to them for help with serious issues. Those few people who felt the need to bully my friends affected other people without even realizing it, so, even if you are targeting just one person with your hurtful words, it will never affect just them. The affect will always spread like when you drop a rock into a pond. The ripples will reach further than you ever could have imagined. I think that there are many potential solutions to the problem of cyberbullying. It will be hard, but there are things that we can do. One of discussions we have had is that the government is considering passing a law to make cyberbullying illegal, and I know that there are mixed feelings on this.

My opinion is that, while a law may not help to resolve the issue right away, after a time it may help to discourage young people from bullying others if they see the consequences of cyberbullying. For example, it is now illegal not to wear a seatbelt, but, not so long ago, that was acceptable. It was after the law had passed that more and more people gradually started to wear seat belts after seeing the consequence of not wearing one. I think the same thing might happen with cyberbullying. If the government were to set up a very definite consequence for anyone breaking the law on cyberbullying, it may make cyberbullying more and more unacceptable in society, just as not wearing your seatbelt is now considered unacceptable. It would not solve everything and definitely not right away, but it, along with other measures, might help.

I believe that cyberbullying, as it is now, is a serious issue and could get even worse if we, as a society, do not do something about it. It affects a lot more than just one person, and I think that the government could potentially help to save a lot of young people from having to take on this burden because to be bullied is to carry a burden. It is a huge weight on your shoulders, and, if we can help to relieve some of that weight, we should.

Senator Harb: Thank you very much. What I hear you saying is that we need to have more awareness. Do you have a website in your school so that, for example, if someone is bullied, they can go and report it to the school without having to mention their names?

Ms. Turner: We do not have a school website, but bullying.org is the big one here. Our teacher, Mr. Belsey, started it, and it has been a huge help to kids all across the country. It is there that you can go and tell your story and write poems or whatever you want to. It is where you can go for help. We do not have a website for the school, but I know that that particular website, bullying.org, is a big help.

Senator Harb: What do you think the government should do to assist?

Ms. Turner: There is kind of the same general consensus all around here that you have to raise awareness, to tell people what it is like to be cyberbullied and to tell parents that this is not a little thing but a huge thing. You have to tell bullies how it feels when they send those messages, and you just generally have to kind of spread the news. It is a big issue. We have to stop this and spread awareness.

Senator White: Thank you very much for your presentation today. For kids in your school involved in cyberbullying and bullying other kids, is there an in-school program where other kids get involved in dealing with them, like a peer justice system?

Ms. Turner: There is not, actually. I have a friend who was cyberbullied by another boy, and in-school suspension is really the punishment. He was suspended for a day. I really do not think that that does anything. I think maybe a peer justice system would be a good idea because, at the moment, it is just teachers and administration dealing with this, and they do not really understand how it feels and how much it hurts. I think a peer justice system or some other way that the students could help to deal with these problems would really be a good idea.

Senator Robichaud: How often do those people who have been bullied, as a group, find the source of the bullying in discussions among themselves? When you say that we should put some measures in place, it should be aimed at those persons who do the bullying. How often do you find that there are a couple of people who usually are the source of the bullying that you are subjected to?

Ms. Turner: That is a problem. As other people have said before me, with the anonymous settings on so many websites, you do not know, you cannot know who it was. It could be someone in your class. It could be someone you see every day, but you would not know. It is really hard to find that source. Sometimes we do, and sometimes there is a consequence and sometimes it stops, but often there is no way of knowing. I think that is another problem, and I really do not know how to resolve it, but we should resolve it, because if we do not know the source of the bullying, then we cannot always make it stop.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you for your presentation. I appreciate what you told us.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Turner, for your presentation. May we have the next presenter?

Katie Allan, Student, Springbank Middle School: Honourable senators, my name is Katie Allen. Today in my submission I would like to argue that cyberbullying is a big deal for Canadian tweens and teens alike. I will cover three topics: whether cyberbullying is a big issue, how much it hurts from a teen's perspective, and what I think needs to be done to prevent it.

As you know, the number of teen suicides is quite high in Canada, and obviously something needs to be done about it. You cannot know the exact reason why certain people commit suicide, but I believe when it comes to teens it must have something to do with bullying. All the technology that we are surrounded with has made bullying much easier, and I can tell you that from personal experience. There is nowhere to hide. When you go home it is there. Even at school, when you have your phone on, it is still there.

It is much easier to insult someone over texts or Facebook because you do not see that look of hurt and betrayal on their face.

The Chair: I am sorry, Ms. Allan, you have such important things to say to us, and we are having difficulty hearing. I understand from here there may be someone using a cellphone in the room that you are in. Can you ask them not to, please? I sincerely apologize. This is hard enough, and I am asking you to repeat what you were saying, because we have not heard you. Can you start again, Ms. Allan?

Ms. Allan: That is fine. Today in my submission I would like to argue that cyberbullying is a big deal for Canadian tweens and teens alike. I will cover three topics: whether cyberbullying is a big issue, how much it hurts from a teen perspective, and what I think needs to be done to prevent it.

As you know, the number of teen suicides is quite high in Canada, and obviously something needs to be done about it. You cannot know the exact reason why certain people commit suicide, but I believe when it comes to teens it must have something to do with bullying. All the technology that we surround ourselves with has made bullying much easier. There is no place to hide and you are never safe, at home or at school, even on vacation.

I would like to tell you that from personal experience. It is much easier to insult someone online because you do not see that look of hurt on their face.

When you are the victim of cyberbullying, it is not just upsetting; it is way more than that. It is a total mix of emotion — anger, confusion, regret, shame; the list goes on. You do not just feel anger for the bully but for yourself, for letting them do that to you. You start beating yourself up and you start believing that the bully is telling you the truth. This can lead to self-harm, eating disorders, depression, suicidal thoughts and even suicide itself.

When you have a bully face to face, it hurts, but over the Internet when you cannot defend yourself and half the time you do not know who the bully is, it feels like a punch in the gut. To put it simply, you feel defenceless.

A friend of mine is an owner of a blog on Tumblr, and she has received so much anonymous hate that it caused her to take her own life. That is hard for everyone, even all the people on Tumblr. It makes you scared. Tumblr is a great resource that you can use to express how you feel, and after something like that happens, you do not really want to anymore.

I honestly think that what needs to be done to prevent cyberbullying is for the bullies to see the toll it takes on people, to have the opportunity to hear the stories of those who have been bullied and see what these people do to themselves.

Thank you for this.

The Chair: Ms. Allan, you were very patient with us and you had some false starts. I apologize, but we thank you. You certainly got your message across; I can assure you about that.

Senator Ataullahjan: Ms. Allan, do you find that most cyberbullying is done by people you know or is it done by people who do not know you? The word that jumped out at me from when you were speaking is "hate." There seems to be a lot of hate. Is it directed at you by people that you know, or some of the people you do not know at all, anonymously?

Ms. Allan: If it is anonymous, you are not really sure if you know them or not. It depends on which sites you are using. On Facebook people do not really have the ability to be anonymous, unless they make fake accounts, but I would say it is a mix of both. Sometimes you get hate from people that you know and other times you get hate from people you have never even met or seen; they live in a total different country from you.

The Chair: Thank you. May we now go on to the next presenter?

Shelby Anderson, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators. My name is Shelby Anderson and I am honoured to be here with you today.

What is cyberbullying? It is anything from a mean message on Facebook, an inappropriate picture of you fooling around on the Internet that you did not know was taken, an email you received about how ugly, stupid or retarded you are, death threats, and even in text messages. If you get a text message from someone and it is all in capitals, you do not know if they really mean what they are saying or they are just saying it to play around or joke with you.

Cyberbullying is everywhere, and it really hurts. It makes you want to crawl in a hole and just stay there. It makes you feel like you are the only one and no one is out there to help you; no one can help you.

Is cyberbullying a big deal? It is a big deal, especially for kids. With adults, if they see it, they usually think it is just a joke between the kids, and it is not something they need to worry about. Kids are getting meaner and meaner. At 10 years old, kids are already deciding who the loser kids are and who the cool ones are. Cyberbullying, or bullying in general, is causing kids to take their own lives because they cannot take the harassment, and they start to believe what the bullies are saying. Boys and girls will hear the whispers, the giggles and their names coming up in every conversation. What the bullies say will echo through the victim's ears.

Facebook, for example, is an amazing site. You can share your pictures, you can stay in contact with family around the world, and talk with your friends, but Facebook has an evil side to it, as well. It is a perfect place for bullies to choose their victims. There are usually two things the bullies will do from Facebook. One is that they will look at a picture of someone and the person in the picture will think it is a really good picture, but the bullies will comment horrible things and make the person in the picture feel insecure and horrible about themselves. Second, they could copy the picture and show it to their friends who will show it to their friends, and it will make the rumours grow bigger and bigger.

How can we prevent cyberbullying? Personally, I am not sure if there is a way that we can completely stop cyberbullying because it is hard. Everyone around the world can do it. Even if we try to stop it, people can continue doing it.

I do not think laying down a law will work. With a law, I feel like kids will still do it because they do not think the law will stop them. However, if you are the parent of a child who is bullying someone, do not be angry at them, but try to talk them into it and saying, "The people you are bullying are humans, too, and they have feelings just like you and me, and it hurts them, as well."

If your child is the one being bullied, try and tell them it is okay to come and talk to you. Even if it is tough and you are there for them always, it is hard for kids to come clean about things like bullying. It is hard to take things off your chest like that, but it really helps to do it.

For the friends of the ones being bullied, do not just sit back. Do not just watch them being bullied. Do not just watch them being hurt. You need to go tell someone; you need to tell a parent or a teacher, and they will help, as well.

We need to find a way to stop bullying because it is hurting kids all around the world, and it is just wrong. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We will now go on to questions.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you very much for your presentation. In your school, you have come together and, I understand, put groups together that talk about bullying and the effects of bullying. Have you seen any changes in the behaviour of bullies? Is there less bullying taking place?

On the other side, are more of your friends who are being bullied coming out to seek some support?

Ms. Shelby Anderson: I think so. Now that our school and bullying.org are out there, I think the people being bullied know there are people that can help them and that the bullying can stop if they come out and talk. It is hard, but if they do come out, they can get help.

As far as how it affects the bullies, I do not think it is completely stopping it, but the bullies are decreasing because there are more and more kids coming out with their problems, and they are growing. The ones being bullied are bigger than the bullies themselves.

Senator Robichaud: I think that what you are doing is part of the solution — getting people to talk about it and to have professionals help those who are being bullied. Maybe this kind of exercise should happen in all the schools, from one end of Canada to the other. I congratulate you for participating in that and saying just what can be done. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Anderson. May we have the next presenter? Senators, I am sorry I have to be arbitrary. I will just have one senator ask the question because we are running out of time.

Sloane Anderson, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators, my name is Sloane Anderson. I am very honoured to be here to present my speech to you today.

Bullies are people who are jealous, scared, hurt, and emotionally and physically disturbed. For me, people bully because of what could have happened to them; maybe they got bullied when they were little or are getting bullied now, so they feel like they have to be bullies themselves. There are bullies at every age. It is sad to see how many bullies there are in the world and how many kids are getting bullied to the point where they do not want to live anymore. For me, it seems like, if we cannot stop it now, the lives of our children might be way worse than they are now. There might be way more suicides and other stuff that could happen, so we need to stop it before it gets worse.

When kids get bullied, they always feel powerless and alone. However, there are always people who can help them, like their friends, their family, even their bus driver if there are bullies on the bus who are bullying you. You can always tell someone. There is always help.

Bullying is an everyday thing. I do not think a law will help bullying because, like Ms. Calvo said, we are teenagers. Lots of people will not listen to it. On Facebook, if you send a mean message or a death threat to someone, you can just delete it afterwards. Therefore, if the victim decides to come forth and tell an adult, then the bully can say "No, I did not do that," because they deleted it, and that is not right because it did happen and there is more that you could do.

Also like Ms. Anderson said, you do not know what tone the bully or anyone is using on the Internet. You do not know if it is nice or mean. It is by your point of view. You have to decide what they are saying, so you do not know if it is nice.

Cyberbullying is a big deal and it can start at any age. For me, cyberbullying is something that causes kids to fake accounts because they are scared of what people might think of them. They can get bullied for their image, what their personality is or what they like to do. It does not matter; there is always something that they can get bullied over, and it is really sad. Therefore, they make fake accounts so nobody really knows them. You have to be true to yourself, so just be you.

There is not very much you can do to prevent bullying, but I think some of the things you can do is not give out your account passwords or security codes to anyone, even if you trust them, because you do not know if it will slip out.

Also, if someone sends you a mean message or a death threat, do not respond to it. Tell a parent or anyone. If you are really angry and you decide to take it out on someone and send a mean message, think before you press send, because you do not know what will happen; imagine if you were the person receiving the message. How would you feel?

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. Senator Meredith will ask a question.

Senator Meredith: Ms. Anderson, thank you for your presentation. Your school has been very proactive in stopping bullying in your school, but you have friends in other schools. Are they as proactive as your school has been in stopping cyberbullying?

Ms. Sloane Anderson: Our school is probably one of the schools that is doing the most because we have Mr. Belsey, who started the bullying.org website. I think there are a lot more schools that are doing more stuff, but I am not quite sure how they are helping.

Senator Meredith: The kids at your school, then, feel that the administrators are doing everything they can to stop bullying. How could they spread this across the rest of your school district to ensure that other kids who feel unsupported are getting the support they need?

Ms. Sloane Anderson: I think not just the teachers or staff here could do something, but the students could tell other students at other schools. We could all come together and do something. It might make a big difference. I hope it does. We can all just come together and do something.

Senator Meredith: Thank you, Ms. Anderson. I appreciate that.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

We will now go on to the next presenter.

Oliver Buchner, Student, Springbank Middle School: Hello, honourable senators. I will talk to you today about the issue of cyberbullying in Canada.

We all know that cyberbullying is a big issue that affects everyone, either directly or indirectly. In my presentation I will talk about how cyberbullying affects the victim, why a law would not stop cyberbullying, and how we can prevent cyberbullying without a law.

I found that most kids who were bullied or cyberbullied never actually tried to say anything to an adult or someone who could help. Not telling anyone is one of the things that I think encourages cyberbullying. The bullying will drag on and on because the bully knows the victim will not tell, even if it is the right thing to do. Most kids do not want to look like a coward by telling an adult that they are getting bullied.

Kids think that telling is a sign of weakness, but cyberbullying affects the victim's personal life, family life and even his or her school work, and can eventually lead to depression or suicide. A kid who is cyberbullied will always have the problem in the back of his or her mind and it will distract them when they need to think, such as at school or at work.

A law might help some problems, but for cyberbullying it will not cut it. As a modern child, I know that a law against cyberbullying will not stop someone from sending a dirty or mean message. Even with a law, most kids will not admit to being bullied or cyberbullied. It will be hard to track cyberbullying without that.

In my opinion, teachers should educate their classes on the issue of cyberbullying, as well as normal bullying. They could have class discussions and guest speakers. They could talk to kids about how cyberbullying and bullying affects kids. I think that if we did this, we could reduce the number of kids getting bullied. By educating kids about bullying, we would realize how much it affects the victim and his or her family and why they should never do it. By discussing it, a kid will know that it is okay to tell someone about being bullied.

Senator White: Thank you very much. You talked a little bit about the fact that you do not believe a law would necessarily be successful. Your school does have rules — which could be considered laws within the school — that suspend students for their behaviour in relation to cyberbullying. Would you make changes to the rules you have in your own school as well?

Mr. Buchner: We could probably change the rules so that if anyone was bullied or cyberbullied, they could tell someone, such as the guidance counsellor at our school; and the person who is the bully will have to face the consequences of what they have done, because it is not a good thing to do.

Senator White: What consequences would you recommend: what you have now or something different?

Mr. Buchner: Right now we normally have suspensions, but that is the only thing that our school really does right now.

Senator White: Thank you for that, and thank you for your presentation as well.

Mr. Belsey: Hello again, honourable senators. We have come to the conclusion of the students' presentations. I just want to say again that it has been a tremendous honour for the students from Springbank Middle School to have their voices heard. I am really quite proud of my students. I thought that they represented themselves very well. I hope you felt that their insights will help you in the difficult task you have ahead of you.

As their teacher who teaches them language arts this year, I like to think that we in our class are leaders in many ways. My students have used Twitter. We use Skype. All the students have their own blogs, which they use on a regular basis to share and publish their writing. Rather than banning and blocking these technologies, what we have tried to do — in, I hope, an insightful and progressive way — is to use these various technologies to have my students and others know that these are the most powerful communicative tools in the history of mankind, and the computer and the Internet. I hope that this year my students felt that they understood the positive power of these tools and, through their presentations today, maybe gave you some insights into how incredibly hurtful, harmful and really terrible this issue is in their lives.

I wondered if you had any final questions, either for me or my students, at this point.

The Chair: Senator White has a question.

Senator White: Yes, a couple of us have questions.

The question I have is in relation to the rules. A number of the students referred to suspensions. I have about a 25-year history of developing restorative justice practices in schools and communities, and I was wondering whether that is a consideration, going forward, at Springbank Middle School as well.

Mr. Belsey: Absolutely. I think restorative justice is a really important thing. When you hear terms that are bandied about these days in education, such as "zero tolerance," the idea to not want to tolerate bullying is laudable; however, to say, "If you bully, you are out," really does not, of course, change anything. What is important with approaches like restorative justice is that there are consequences, but they are formative consequences, consequences that teach.

As an educator, I went to a wonderful school in Ontario. I did four years of teacher training. In my four years at a fantastic Canadian university, studying to be a teacher, I received not one single research-based course or even a class about bullying, and certainly not cyberbullying, during my entire teacher training. That is something that needs to be addressed. As you heard the students say today, students are often cautious, fearful or loath to come forward and tell an adult, because in some cases they are worried that a teacher, unfortunately, may unwittingly make the situation worse; or a parent loves their kids but may really not know what to do.

If I am going to say to my students, whom I care very much for, "Do not keep this to yourself; tell an adult or someone you know and trust," the next part is: What if that adult does not know what to do? The research is telling us that people often have to tell 10, 12 or more adults until finally they may find someone to help. I think restorative justice is a strong example of formative consequences, which are consequences that teach, and I would certainly support any move along those lines, in my school and beyond.

Senator White: Thank you for sharing your school and students with us today.

Senator Ataullahjan: We heard from nine students today. Eight of them were girls and one was a boy. Are girls being bullied more or are they just more willing to talk about the issues that affect them?

Mr. Belsey: I left the presentations optional for my grade 8 students. I think, as you may have heard from Ms. Hoogveld's presentation and from some of the other young ladies, when I asked them, "Do you think it is more of an issue for girls than for boys," many of the female students in my class felt strongly that it was.

Certainly boys do experience bullying in different forms, but social forms of bullying tend to be perpetrated by girls, and that is borne out by research. Probably more importantly than research, you heard from a lot of young female students in my class. I do not know if they can smile at me or not if I am right, but I think one of the reasons why, when I left the invitation open to them, there were so many young women, is that they feel strongly that this affects them as young women, as students in our school, and as young women generally. They felt that this is particularly a problem for their gender.

I am getting a lot of smiles and head nods. I think that they felt particularly strong about having the opportunity to present their thoughts, feelings and experiences about cyberbullying with you today.

Senator Robichaud: Mr. Belsey, bravo. I think the students who gave us their part of their story did it very well. They were articulate and well spoken. I am sure this is a reflection of the work do you in your school. I hope that kind of work is done in all the other schools — not to put down anyone else, but it shows a positive image of what you are doing. To those students, thank you for job well done; and to you, sir, keep on doing what you are doing because, from what we heard from the students, it is having an effect. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Mr. Belsey, we appreciate all the work you did to put these panels together. We look forward to working with you in the future. Thank you very much.

I would like to welcome our next panel. We have the Anti-Defamation League, with Mr. Scott Hirschfeld and Mr. Seth Marnin joining us by video conference, and we have the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Helen Kennedy, the Executive Director of Egale. We are very familiar with your work, so we welcome you again.

Seth M. Marnin, Assistant Director, Legal Affairs, Civil Rights Division, Anti-Defamation League: Good afternoon, honourable senators. Thank you for the invitation to present today. I am Seth Marnin, Assistant Director, Legal Affairs, Civil Rights Division. Bullying and cyberbullying are among the substantive legal issues I handle in this role. Joining me is Scott Hirschfeld, Director of Curriculum, who develops diversity, anti-bias training and curricular resources.

The Anti-Defamation League has been fighting discrimination and bigotry since its inception in 1913. Our mission is to fight the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.

For over 25 years ADL has been taking a leading role in working to combat online bullying, raising awareness by developing curriculum and programming for teachers, students and the community on how to recognize and respond to cyberbullying. ADL has worked closely with state legislatures around the nation to craft anti-bullying laws. We have developed a model law to address problems caused by cyberbullying and the use of electronic media to extend the reach of bullying beyond the school yard and even into the sanctuary of the a child's bedroom.

ADL is also a proud advocate of preserving freedom of expression. We understand that our own first amendment of the U.S. Constitution is unique and sometimes frustrating for others whose legal frameworks allow for more government restrictions of speech, particularly with regard to content on the Internet. Even in the U.S. the right to free speech is not absolute. U.S. courts have struck a balance between constitutional rights and protecting society from harm, for example, in speech that intimidates, threatens or defames in addition to certain student expression.

Indeed, school children have constitutional rights but those rights are, and can, be limited. As I will discuss, U.S. courts have struck a balance between free expression and the protection and safety of students, which leaves a certain kind of legal legroom for communities to engage our youth and schools in proactive strategies to combat bullying and hate online, and promote a civil electronic discourse. We encourage you to develop similar strategies to combat bullying, bigotry and hate.

There are a number of legal limitations on school administrators when considering ways to treat an incident of cyberbullying. When determining how to respond to an incident of cyberbullying, schools must take into account the sometimes competing objectives of safeguarding students' right to free expression, the right to privacy, duty to appropriate a safe learning environment, and the duty to abide by civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination. In the U.S. those constitutional rights can be limited, as I mentioned before.

In 1969 the case Tinker v. Des Moines in the U.S. Supreme Court set the standard for balancing student expression with the right of a school to punish speech. The court held that a school can restrict speech if it causes a substantial and material disruption of an educational objective or interferes with another student's rights.

Courts around the country have used this Tinker standard as a means of permitting schools to prohibit bullying and cyberbullying that substantially and materially disrupts the school's mission. The application of the Tinker standard has been challenged, most often in incidents involving schools that discipline students for cyberbullying another student when the perpetrators' expression was created off the physical school campus. U.S. courts continue to grapple with this issue, but more and more can consider school action constitutional if there is a censoring of that speech, a nexus between the off-campus expression and the effect it is having on campus.

A school must also consider a student's privacy rights. The government is prohibited from searching someone's property unless there is a probable cause to suspect unlawful activity. In a school setting however, the government needs only reasonable suspicion. The standard allows for more leniency in searching cell phones and computers. On the other hand, they must also consider the rights of the students being bullied. Schools have a duty of care toward students and in a recent case, a school was ordered to pay $800,000 in damages to a student who claimed the school did not do enough to protect him from years of bullying. Schools may also be subject to civil rights statutes if it is motivated by a student's race, ethnicity or gender.

Finally, there may be criminal issues in play, as mentioned above. Not all expression is protected, such as intimidation or threats. Further, if one of these crimes is motivated by a personal or immutable characteristic of the victim, the incident may be a hate crime. Schools must be equipped to reach out to appropriate authorities if such crimes are suspected. These legal limitations must be taken into account when considering strategies and recommendations for action with regard to bullying or any other incidents of hate.

I would like to invite Mr. Hirschfeld to address training and workshops.

Scott Hirschfeld, Director of Curriculum, Anti-Defamation League: Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to address the Senate on such an important matter.

I am the Curriculum Director for the Anti-Defamation League and am involved in helping to develop and implement ADL's training and curriculum programs on anti-bias and anti-bullying issues. I will talk for a couple of minutes about the program offerings on cyberbullying from ADL.

We offer half-day and full-day training for educators, administrators, youth service providers, family members and youth that increase awareness about the unique features and impact of cyberbullying, provide strategies for responding effectively and fostering increased culture of e-safety, and respect for differences among youth. These interactive training programs provide practical information and opportunities for skill-building that support participants in developing comprehensive plans for preventing and taking action against cyberbullying and social cruelty and online forums. We currently offer four programs different members of the school community.

We have a program for educators called Trickery, Trolling and Threats. It is a half or full day program for middle and high school educators, administrators, youth service providers and other adults in the school community that increase awareness about the impact of cyberbullying and provide strategies for responding effectively.

This program tries to increase adults' understanding and awareness of the issues and how cyberbullying manifests and occurs among youth in their communities. It explores the connection between cyberbullying, bias-motivated behaviour and online hate activities, and helps them learn strategies for empowering youth to respond to cyberbullying.

We also offer a program called Cyberbullying: Focus on the Legal Issues for school administrators and others concerned about the legal framework surrounding cyberbullying. This is an interactive two and a half hour training that looks in-depth at the legal and constitutional issues including free speech, privacy, liability and criminal law. We discuss hate crimes and bias incidents in cyberspace and examine appropriate intervention strategies and disciplinary responses to cyberbullying and cyberthreats.

We have a program called CyberALLY that offers practical information and opportunities for skill-building that support youth in developing internal strategies for protecting themselves against cyberbullying — as well as acting as cyberallies — or preventing and taking action against cyberbullying and social cruelty in online forms when they encounter it.

We have another program called Youth and Cyberbullying: What Families Don't Know Will Hurt Them. It is a two-hour interactive training for parents and adult family members which helps increase their understanding about the language, skills, information and challenges associated with cyberbullying. It assists families, children and teens to respond in appropriate ways to incidents of cyberbullying and promote safe and respectful online environments for all people.

We believe at ADL that bullying and cyberbullying are whole-community problems, which is why we involve youth educators, administrators, families and other members of the school community. Since their inception, ADL has conducted approximately 500 cyberbullying programs reaching about 30,000 people in 25 regions across the United States.

I will turn it back to my colleague Mr. Marnin. We will briefly share some recommendations and best practices.

Mr. Marnin: The primary recommendation from the legal perspective is the importance of enacting bullying and cyberbullying prevention policies and laws that are both proactive and responsive and engage the community to action. In particular, national and local education authorities should adopt bullying prevention policies and should be compelled to do so by law. The policy should entail disciplinary measures in addition to proactive measures that combat and deter future incidents. A strong bullying prevention policy will, of course, prohibit bullying. It should include a clear definition of bullying, specifically one that defines electronic communication broadly so that students and the community know exactly what is and what is not acceptable.

It should involve government officials, school districts, parents, teachers, students, school volunteers, law enforcement officials and community members in developing policy. It should create specific avenues for students and teachers to report incidents of bullying and they should be able to do so safely and free from retaliation.

The policy should require explicit notice to parents and students of the prohibition on bullying and the avenues for reporting incidents. It should provide counselling services for victims of bullying, and require schools to report bullying activity to a government authority so there is an awareness and accountability for all schools, require training about bullying and cyberbullying for teachers and students and, importantly, should include explicit enumerated categories, including race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability or other identifiable characteristics. Naming the categories removes all doubt that anti-Semitic bullying or anti-gay bullying or bullying of other specifically targeted groups is included within the prohibitions. It also underscores that hatred based on bigotry and stereotypes affect communities in a unique way and will not be tolerated.

While the strategy used to combat bullying can teach lessons for combating the broader problem of cyberhate, schools and students do not bear the entire onus to address this issue. It is of the utmost importance to have a constant and civil dialogue from various facets of society.

Industry and consumers should partner to identify ways to collaborate and promote civil discourse. As consumers, it is our responsibility to work with the industry on ways to minimize the dangers and risks of cyberbullying and cyberhate. We recommend that Internet consumers commit to helping those in the industry understand what is and what is not problematic content by engaging in positive responses. We recommend to the industry to understand the laws as they relate to cyberbullying, hate crimes and cyberhate and work with youth where possible.

We recommend Internet providers define prohibited hate speech and prohibit the use of hate in any terms of service agreement. A responsible website will establish clear, user-friendly reporting mechanisms for reporting hateful content and will act quickly to remove or sequester hateful content once it is reported. That is not censorship; it is compliance with Internet service providers' terms of service.

Finally, government leaders and public figures must continue to condemn bigotry and violence motivated by bias wherever and whenever it arises. As always in order to combat hate online, we need the cooperation of communities in the fight against hate. It is hard to overstate the importance of public officials and law-enforcement authorities willing to speak out against hate, discrimination and bullying. That leadership helps nurture a climate and culture in which other members of the community are willing to condemn bigotry and combat the effects of hate online.

Mr. Hirschfeld: I will conclude ADL's testimony by highlighting several recommendations and best practices at the school level for addressing cyberbullying in a comprehensive and proactive way.

First, it is important that school leaders conduct needs assessments at their schools. They should be implementing surveys of students, staff and families and other members of the community to learn more about their experiences, perceptions and needs with regard to cyberbullying and other issues related to school climate and safety. This data can be used to inform policy, program and instruction.

Second, every school should have a committee in place to deal with these issues. They should form a team or assign an existing committee to be responsible for keeping up with laws, policies, best practices and current trends regarding cyberbullying and Internet safety to plan and coordinate instructional and programmatic activities that increase awareness of cyberbullying in their institutions, to build relationships with relevant communities members, including local law enforcement officials that deal with cybercrimes.

Third, schools should establish and enforce policies. They need to set clear guidelines for technology use at their institutions, and update anti-bullying, harassment and disciplinary policies accordingly. They should publicize and educate about these guidelines and make youth aware of the consequences of online cruelty.

Fourth, schools need to develop reporting and investigation processes. They must establish safe and confidential reporting mechanisms for cyberbullying incidents and make youth aware of these structures. They should develop incident review protocols so that it is clear how reports of cyberbullying will be followed up in a timely and thorough fashion, and they should identify school action options including disciplinary consequences, working with families, involving guidance counsellors, and bringing in law enforcement, legal professionals and phone in Internet service providers as appropriate.

Fifth, the community needs to be educated. Schools should be engaging youth in activities and discussions on an ongoing basis about ethical standards for online activities, teach them that all forms of bullying are unacceptable and help them identify strategies for responding to cyberbullying and online hate.

Schools should also provide professional development and family education that helps adults in the community to better understand how to recognize the warning signs of cyberbullying and how to respond effectively when it occurs.

Finally, schools should implement a comprehensive Internet use management plan. They need to institute supervision and monitoring practices that keep relevant staff at their institutions informed about how technology is being used onsite and that help them to enforce rules and policies. Blocking and filtering software can be included as part of a comprehensive monitoring strategy but should not be relied on as the solution or the only tool for ensuring safe online environments.

With that, we will conclude our testimony and are happy to respond to any questions from the Senate at this time. Thank you very much for your attention.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We will now go on to Ms. Kennedy from Egale.

Helen Kennedy, Executive Director, Egale Canada: Senators, I wish to preface my remarks by saying that this paper is adapted from a presentation prepared by Dr. Catherine Taylor, PhD, University of Winnipeg, member of the Education Committee, Egale Canada.

Egale Canada is our national lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans — LGBT — human rights organization, advancing equality, diversity, education and justice.

Egale's vision is Canada free of homophobia, bi-phobia and transphobia and all other forms of discrimination so that every person can achieve their full potential, unencumbered by hatred and bias.

We were founded in 1986. We were incorporated as a federal not-for-profit organization in 1995, with a focus on education, advocacy, litigation and expert consultation.

The existence of LGBTQ students is more obvious in some schools than others, but they exist in every class in every school. If their presence is not obvious, they are likely pretending to be heterosexual or conventionally gendered to avoid harassment.

This afternoon I will discuss the topic of cyberbullying, in the course of reporting on the findings of our first national survey on homophobic and transphobic violence in our Canadian schools.

I brought a copy of the final report for you, and I will submit that to the committee.

Egale's committee of educators and school trustees from across Canada designed this national study to answer research questions about homophobic and transphobic violence in our schools.

After 18 months of data collection, ending in June of 2009, we had over 3,700 participants. The sample was representative of the Canadian population in terms of region, ethnicity, city, suburb, town, rural and remote.

What did we learn? First, we learned that schools are indeed unsafe and disrespectful for our LGBTQ students.

In the area of symbolic violence, for example, 70 per cent of all participants, gay and straight, reported hearing of expresses such as "that's so gay" every day in school. It is often said that students do not mean homosexual, they just mean stupid or worthless. For LGBTQ students, that means hearing a word that goes to the core of your identity used as a synonym for stupid or loser every single day. Almost 50 per cent of the students surveyed heard remarks like faggot, queer, lezzie and dyke on a daily basis in our Canadian schools.

We asked participants: Are any of the following places in your school unsafe for LGBTQ students to go? We gave them a list of everyday spaces, including the classrooms, the corridors, the change rooms, the washrooms, the cafeteria, the bus and walking routes to and from school.

For example, 79 per cent of the trans-students, 70 per cent of the LGB students and 47 per cent of the heterosexual students saw at least one place in school as unsafe for LGBTQ students, with washrooms, change rooms and hallways being at the top of the list.

Violence at school bleeds into violence online, where we can see the same patterns continuing. Trans-students were most likely to be targeted, followed by female sexual minority students and then male sexual minority students.

Thirty per cent of the female sexual minority students told us that they were harassed about being LGBTQ in cyberspace. Twenty-three per cent of the gay males said that they were harassed online for being gay. Forty-seven per cent of the trans-students said that they were harassed in cyberspace, compared to 5.6 per cent of our straight population.

Sixteen per cent of the female lesbian/gay/bisexual students were harassed daily or weekly online about being LGB. Ten per cent of the gay males were harassed in cyberspace on a daily or weekly basis, compared to 26.7 per cent of our trans-students.

The impact of cyberharassment on targeted individuals, those who skip school because they feel unsafe for being harassed in cyberspace, is 51 per cent of those surveyed. That is a huge amount of the student population.

For all students, LGBTQ and heterosexual, we understand the basic contours of online harassment. It is permanent. We might persuade the perpetrators not to do it again, but they have lost control over the vile words once the send button is pressed. The message can keep circulating through social media and text messaging forever.

It is ubiquitous. There is no safe space left for the victim. We know that children and teenagers often sleep with their cellphones under their pillows and compulsively check through the night, afraid that, if they do not keep messaging, they will be messaged about and find themselves alone on the target range. Perpetrators can act anytime, anywhere, with or without adult supervision, in-between bites at a family dinner.

It is impulsive. The ability to act instantly on an abusive impulse leaves little room for sober second thought.

It is quasi-real. The impact of cyberharassment is all too real for its victims, but the casually abusive perpetrator might have a lowered sense of the significance of the action.

There is a group mentality. One comment on social media can quickly escalate to gang assault, leaving the victim feeling alone in the world and humiliated.

For LGBTQ youth, homophobic cyberbullying broadcasts their sexual or gender identity to the world. Even adults, in 2012, are still careful about who we come out to so as to be safe or simply to avoid having to deal with bigotry. For LGBTQ youth, maintaining control over who knows can be a matter of life and death.

There is a solid bank of scholarly research showing that depression and "suicidality" skyrocket after disclosure of sexual identity to parents and family members. Even when youth feel most hopeful about their parents' acceptance, they are often wrong. Although many parents accept and support their LGBTQ children, the literature shows that many other parents react to disclosures of their child's status with hostility, ranging from shock and horror to grounding or eviction to being sent to the so-called conversion therapy to intense verbal and physical abuse.

We know that LGBTQ youth who are rejected by their families are nine times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.

Despite the gains made in LGBTQ rights in recent years, it is still deadly to be identified as LGBTQ in some circles. The news stories on homophobic cyberharassment contain many examples of malicious outing, for example, the college roommate who secretly filmed a young man, Tyler Clementi, having sex with another man and uploaded it to a social media site, leading to a U.S. suicide.

We are not taking cyberharassment seriously enough. Part of the problem is that we do not want to deal with homophobia in a vigorous way because we are afraid of media attention and parental backlash, but part of the problem is that focusing on the term cyber-bullies is distracting us from the facts.

First, it depersonalizes. The term cyberbullying obscures the agency of the bully and suggests that the bully exists only as a function of cyberspace, not in physical space.

Second, it minimizes. The language of bullying itself is problematic. For all the work that has been done in the Safe Schools Movement to bring attention to the issue, bullying still does not convey the seriousness of the behaviours it covers. If adults were being subjected to vicious insults and goaded to commit suicide in cyberspace or in physical space or were being slammed into walls and sexually assaulted in locker rooms, we would be using the felony language of harassment, uttering threats, battery and sexual assault.

Third, it depoliticizes. Focusing on cyberspace obscures the structural sources of violence, the enduring homophobia and transphobia of school culture that supply motive, logic and institutional authority for violence.

Another problem is our focus on cyberspace as the problem. Would Jamie Hubley's suicide have caught the media's attention if it had not been shown in cyberspace?

Much of the media reporting on harassment in cyberspace spins cyberspace itself as a lawless frontier that needs to be colonized by adult surveillance systems to enforce good behaviour on youth. However, cyberspace is not the criminal. There is no doubt that harassment is a crime of opportunity and that the ubiquitous ease of electronic communication provides ample opportunities, but cyberspace is just as happy to be a field of dreams as a stalking ground for LGBTQ youth. We have online anti-bullying sites, Egale has a website called mygsa.ca, which is a site that deals with education and establishing safe spaces — gay-straight alliances — in our school system across the country. The It Gets Better campaign is another classic example. Cyberspace can also be an organization and communications space for work that does not get done in the bricks and mortar school system, a place for adults and students, heterosexual and queer, to organize. Cyberspace itself is not the problem. Terrible and wonderful things happen there, but Canada's high schools remain a kind of land that time forgot, where youth and adults are still prowling for LGBTQ youth, and we need to challenge the culture of homophobia and transphobia that persists in our schools the way that we have tackled them in the adult world by law but also by loosening up about the law of silence and admitting that LGBTQ people should be admitted into the everyday and everyday conversation.

The good news is that in schools where even small efforts have been made, students report a better climate. We can police cyberspace all we want and maybe even significantly reduce the incidence of homophobic and transphobic harassment that occurs there, but that is just moving the problem back to physical space, not making it better.

To make it better, we need to make use of the pedagogies that we have developed in the last 50 years to promote safe and respectful schools for other forms of diversity: coming down hard on abusive language and direct harassment in the hallways, studying the historical construction of prejudice, representing LGBTQ people in the curriculum, using inclusive language, holding inclusive events and supporting students in their efforts.

Harassment policies and gay-straight alliances are important elements of a safe and respectful school culture, but they are not enough in themselves to transform school culture. The single biggest opportunity that educators have to shift school culture is through classroom teaching, and right now almost nothing is happening there.

We need a strong mandate, from ministries of education across the country, to integrate sexual and gender diversity into classroom teaching, just as we now integrate content regarding other kinds of social diversity. Otherwise, fear of repercussions and lack of training will continue to prevent many school divisions and most of their teachers from doing it. Above all, we need to end the taboo status of LGBTQ people in our classrooms and in our society.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We will now continue with questions.

Senator Ataullahjan: Do we still have the Anti-Defamation League online?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator White: They are hiding there.

Senator Ataullahjan: My question is for Mr. Marnin. This study relates to an issue of child protection under Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. How does your cyberbullying initiative, in particular the cyberbullying of youth, fit under your mandate as an organization? Are you relating it to the upholding of human rights? Also, how does combating cyberbullying fit into the mission of the ADL?

Mr. Marnin: On the first part of your question, our framework for addressing cyberbullying has not been contextualized in that manner. We have come at it more from the approach under U.S. law and of our opportunities and obligations therein.

In terms of how it relates to the Anti-Defamation League's overall mission and work, in the efforts to stand up for the rights of all, we understand "all," obviously, to include our youth, LGBT youth and others. We saw quite clearly how bullying and cyberbullying were impacting our youth and took it up. Interestingly enough, we took up cyberbullying prior to bullying in our history, and began to understand that as a larger part of bullying.

Senator Ataullahjan: We have new issues that come into focus. Should schools be punishing students for their off-campus activities? Do they have the right, or should they be given the power to do that?

There are concerns also that any legislation on cyberbullying will infringe on the rights of freedom of expression. The lines are blurred between what is allowed to be expressed by an individual and what is hate. How do you define this line?

Mr. Marnin: It is a line that we care very much about, given the constitutional work that we have done here at the ADL. From our perspective, understanding the ways in which cyberbullying affects the targets of the bullying in interrupting their education and interrupting the school day, and it is just as detrimental to those youth as if it were happening right there in the school. Therefore, when cyberbullying happens in a way via the Internet or via text messages, it does not happen in a vacuum. It deeply affects the students and their capacity to attain education. We just heard about the percentage of youth not going to school because of their experiences with bullying and cyberbullying, and that deeply concerns us. That is how we understand this.

We certainly have no interest in impinging on the freedom of expression guaranteed under our Constitution in this case, but we must also understand how that expression, when it is targeting someone, is not protected speech any longer, in the same way that inciting violence is not protected speech.

Senator Ataullahjan: My question is for Ms. Kennedy. Thank you for your presentation. We heard from you that cyberbullying of the LGBT youth is a prominent human rights issue in Canada. Can you tell me what is currently being done by the federal, provincial and municipal governments in this regard, and what is being done by the civil society groups?

Ms. Kennedy: There are very few provinces in Canada doing anything about it, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, although Ontario currently has Bill 13 that they are looking at. It will make amendments to the Safe Schools Act to include gay-straight alliances within the school structure in Ontario.

Recently, we did a series of training sessions in Newfoundland and Labrador of all the principals, vice principals, guidance councillors and school administrators in every district in that province. It was incredibly successful. The Ministry of Education in Newfoundland Labrador is taking a very proactive approach to this issue because they know of the problems. We are going back in the fall to do all of their 5,000 teachers.

In Canada, across the country, we are seeing little or no pre-service education providing teachers with the tools they need before they end up in the classroom. We are asking an awful lot of our teachers to take on these issues when we are not providing them with the resources they need in order to address them: understanding the language such as trans, which is understanding transgender and transsexual. It is a holistic approach.

In terms of civil society, there is a little work being done through organizations in the U.S. and organizations in Britain. Canada now has a survey — the first of its kind in the country — that actually examines the climate for our LGBTQ youth. Interestingly, we discovered that it is girl-on-girl violence in the segregated areas that is more extensive than the violence against what is perceived to be the young gay male. Also, 58 per cent of the students who identified as straight said that they were upset about what was happening to their LGBT peers in their school system.

From a federal level, there is not a lot being done. There are pockets within the country at the provincial level that are actually now starting to address this, but it is not as extensive as it should be.

Senator Ataullahjan: Do you feel that cyberbullying should be included in teacher training, that they should be given the tools to say what acceptable behaviour is and training on how to use social media? Should they be taught that and see where the lines should be drawn in schools as to what is acceptable behaviour?

Ms. Kennedy: Absolutely. Our study has shown us that teachers are sometimes part of the problem. They engage in the homophobia. We have incidents of teachers laughing at young boys because of the way they run. This is not acceptable. If we do not give the teachers the knowledge and the resources that they need in order to address the issue, then we will never tackle this problem in the way that it should be addressed.

Senator White: Thank you for your presentations. My question actually pertains specifically to the bully and the differences that most of us see between a cyberbully and the old-fashioned bully in the classroom or schoolyard. Many would say that they are not the same and must be managed differently. I do not know that any of us have our head around that. How can we manage both of these differently? That is a question for you, Ms. Kennedy, if you do not mind. I think you are probably hearing that, as well.

Second, many would argue that reconciliation in the school can come from dialogue and discussion, not from hiding it. I do appreciate some of the discussion that is taking place. Some would suggest that ought to come in the form of plays and other things that make it more acceptable and palatable for the discussion and to take away some of the seriousness around it. Have you had any experiences or are you seeing any schools do that?

Ms. Kennedy: Our study has shown us that schools that have inclusive policies that actually spell out anti-homophobia and anti-transphobia policies and that say lesbian, gay, bisexual, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and schools that have gay-straight alliances are safer, more inclusive schools.

Senator White: So open dialogue is the key?

Ms. Kennedy: The open dialogue is extremely important. When a student sees a sticker on a teacher's door that indicates it is a safe space, they know that they can go and talk to that teacher and that the teacher has an understanding and an acceptance of who they are —

Senator White: And the issue.

Ms. Kennedy: — and the issue. That is really, really important. The more open and the more included we are in the curriculum, the better it is. I have two small boys. They are both in schools in Ontario. They are 6 and 8. I know that my kids can go through the school system and never see our family reflected in the curriculum. It is that constant negativity around who we are that will stay with them. Therefore, the more open we are about it and the more we talk about these issues, the safer, more inclusive and accepting we will become as a society.

Senator White: Back to my first commentary, do you also agree that there are dramatic differences between the cyberbully and the bully, regardless of whether it is in relation to the LGTB community or others, but that there is a different type of bully we are seeing as well?

Ms. Kennedy: Sure. I think it is a lot easier to be a cyberbully in many respects, because you can hide. You can do it from anywhere, any location, and there is a certain anonymity that goes with it, for sure.

Senator White: Thank you for your comments and for your presentation.

The Chair: Senator White, may we open up your question to the Anti-Defamation League?

Senator White: Sure. I do not know if you heard my questions or not. If you did, you may reply to one or both.

Mr. Hirschfeld: Yes, I did hear your question.

When you look at traditional forms of face-to-face or schoolyard bullying, we mostly think of students who have more physical or social power and can use that power to bully others. Absolutely, when we move to an online environment, that whole dynamic changes and any student, no matter where they are in that power structure, can bully online.

With cyberbullying, we are finding a wider array of students participating in it. Sometimes it might be for retaliation. They might not feel the confidence, physical power or social standing to retaliate face to face. They might turn to the online environment to do that. We see social climbing hierarchies where some youth are participating in cyberbullying because they feel it is a way to become more popular or more "in" with a certain crowd.

Definitely across the spectrum we are seeing a wider variety of students participating in online cruelty. It speaks to the need for there to be, as my colleague just stated, lots of specific education carved out in the curriculum.

In the United States there is very little time carved out for social and emotional types of learning and topics. We give a lot of lip service to it; however, in the end, the curriculum is dominated by the subject areas that are tested, the "hard academic areas." There is little time built in to give kids information, to help build skills, and to give them time and support in practising how to interact ethically and positively in an online environment, what to do if they come across bullying or if they are pressured into participating in that kind of behaviour. We definitely need to carve out time for that type of education.

Senator Zimmer: In my day, you dealt with the bully yourself. In my day, if you talked about the bully or revealed the bully's name, you were tagged as a tattletale or a squealer and there was retribution beyond the usual treatment. Even though the teacher or professor would say it stops now, they have ways to get you.

Is there still retribution and retaliation beyond dealing with the issue through the proper authorities? Yes, Facebook and Twitter can be useful, but they also can be abused. The question is: If you report bullying, is it worse because they will come back and get you? They say they are going to respond positively, but do they in fact get you behind the tool shed later and retaliate separately? Does telling make it worse?

Mr. Hirschfeld: I can respond to that. Certainly, retaliation does still happen. I do not think that overall it makes things worse. We definitely encourage youth not to keep incidents of bullying or cyberbullying to themselves, because we feel that it creates significant emotional damage for them to hold that in. We encourage youth to confide in a friend or a trusted adult, whether it is a parent, teacher, counsellor at school, and so forth. Retaliation is a reality in some situations, but we feel it is always better to bring the issue out into the light and for adults to work with students to solve it in a way that will be beneficial for everyone.

The question you raise is important because it speaks to an issue of an entire school culture. Much of the research shows that most students and young people are privately uncomfortable with bullying and retaliatory behaviour; however, they may feel that they are the only ones who are feeling or thinking that way and that the rest of their peers would support that kind of negative behaviour going on in the environment.

You have a lot of students who share the same feelings and beliefs, all keeping quiet, because they feel that they are the only ones who think that way. It is the responsibility of a school to open up the dialogue, to educate, and to make students aware that the majority of students want a safe, supportive environment. The majority of kids do not support the bullying behaviour. When that information gets out in the open, the social norms of the entire community can be adjusted, and most students can be empowered to act as allies and supporters so that retaliation cannot take hold.

That is really what we are aiming at with this type of education. It is not just disciplining the few individuals who may be involved in an incident, but providing the kind of education to the entire community that reshapes the norms so that retaliation and other negative forces cannot thrive. I will stop there on that question.

Senator Zimmer: I guess it could happen to them too. Even though they are silent, they are probably thinking that if they do not bully someone else, it could happen to them. Therefore, they need the support of the school, the community and their parents. Thank you very much.

Ms. Kennedy: I completely agree. I do not think that any of this work can be done in isolation. I think it is a holistic approach to the whole education system and the work we do before the teacher ever ends up in the classroom. The earlier we start the education around LGTBQ issues and bullying in an age-appropriate manner, that is what we should be looking at.

Senator Meredith: Thank you so much, panellists. I keep going back to this question of how we change a culture within our schools, within our institutions, and within government in terms of the issues around bullying and the attitude that is taken when someone does come forth with a complaint. How do we change that culture? Ms. Kennedy, you mentioned teachers being part of the problem when it comes to the LGTB community, almost the sense of "suck it up," or "deal with it." A sense of empathy is still not demonstrated. How do we change that to really get to the root of the problem?

Ms. Kennedy: There are so many different ways of dealing with it and addressing it. One way of doing it would be to have role models at every level of the political realm, for example, role model teachers and role models in the sports world. There are hardly any "out gay" athletes or politicians.

This week we have before the house Bill C-279, the gender identity bill. If it passes second reading, it will go to committee, and we would have transgender people included in our Canadian Human Rights Act and in the Criminal Code of Canada. If we continue to hide and to not address the issue of the LGTBQ populations within our society, we will continue to think that it is not okay to be gay, and we will continue to send those negative messages to our youth, who are already struggling with their identity through their teen years.

We need to start talking more freely and openly about LGTB populations within our society. Currently there are 77 countries around the world that criminalize homosexuality, and in 5 countries it is punishable by death. As an "out person," I see that, and that has a negative impact on our community on a regular basis. We have to start opening up the dialogue and being respectful of people's religious interpretation of LGBTQ issues, while at the same time recognizing within our publicly funded education system that every child has the right to be safe and educated.

Senator Meredith: Mr. Hirschfeld, would you like to comment on that as well?

Mr. Hirschfeld: I think that the first response I have is the dictum that change is a process, not an event, so there are no short-term or easy-fix kinds of interventions for this problem. Whole communities need to be involved, and it needs to be an ongoing, long-term effort. All the research shows that schools have to be involved in a multi-year effort to address issues like bullying, anti-bias and prejudice, in order for it to begin to take hold and for a community to shift. Whole communities can and will shift when the commitment is made. It means starting at the earliest grades, with curriculum and training for teachers and parents, and establishing a mission that has to do with social and emotional learning. Very much the way that you would plan for the academic curriculum, you also have to plan for the safety issues and emotional issues that you will teach. It must be across the board. They must be consistent messages between home and school, and there must be a commitment over a number of years. There is no secret formula; it is consistency and, as I said, a whole-of-school commitment. Where that happens, we see the behaviour shift and larger numbers of students being empowered to act as allies, to behave respectfully toward their peers and to stand together when individuals express bias, prejudice, bullying and so forth.

Senator Ataullahjan: It is interesting. You just spoke about involving the community as a whole. So far, we have spoken about the responsibility of the schools, the teachers and the parents, but I would like to ask you what role advertising plays in forming ideas amongst youth and even young children? Quite often, advertising informs ideas and perceptions of what is cool and normal, and bullies often prey on those who are different from perceived ideas of what is normal. While we talk about educating children about bullying, we also need to make adults in positions of influence take responsibility too.

Mr. Hirschfeld: I could not agree with you more on that. One important part of the curriculum that should be included at every school and age level is media literacy, where students are taught to be critical consumers of everything from movies and television to advertisements and videogames so that they are thinking critically about the messages — who makes them, why, what they mean — and the extent to which they are buying into those messages and ideals, et cetera. Really making that an explicit part of the curriculum is important.

It is also important for agencies like ADLs and other educational organizations that are working on issues like bullying and bias to form partnerships with media agencies to educate them and build awareness within those industries about how their messages impact youth and to help to shape and re-shift messages where possible. At the ADL, we have several partnerships with media agencies. One is with MTV. They are running, in the United States, a campaign called A Thin Line to deal with digital abuse and cyberbullying issues. We act as an advisor on that campaign and work with them to help to shape expectations and to build awareness amongst youth. We are working with the Ad Council here, which is about to release an anti-bullying campaign, a series of TV and radio spots and other types of media interventions.

There are other examples, but we need to work in partnership with various media agencies and with the industry as a whole to educate them and to help them to get the right messages out to youth, in a large-scale way that we cannot do on our own.

Mr. Marnin: To add to that, it is important to hold media outlets, websites and so forth responsible for their terms of service. They put out guidelines by which they agree to operate, and one of the things that we have found useful in educating them about the issues is reminding them of the ideals and responsibilities that they have and hold, as well as the policies that they themselves have established. When their media is being used in ways that contradict those policies, I think that they often recognize the value those policies in other ways and like to affirm those policies and live up to them.

Overarching with that and with the prior question about changing the culture, I wanted to add that having laws and policies allows and forces discussion of these issues, which allows for the conversations to happen to change the culture. It affirms government's perspective on what is okay and what is not okay and also holds communities responsible. When you talk about the teachers who are engaging in this behaviour, there is a mechanism to hold them responsible for their activities and speech.

Ms. Kennedy: Now, more than ever, we are seeing gay characters in sitcoms, and that has given our youth permission to come out at an earlier age. However, when they do that, we are not providing resources in the school system because the teachers do not have the training that they need to address the transphobia and homophobia in the hallways. Our LGBTQ youth are being given a false sense of security because they are not getting the backing that they need, on a daily basis, in the school environment.

Senator Meredith: Some of you have touched on this already with respect to the education that still needs happen. How effective do you think your education programs have been in reaching those individuals who are still resistant to the changes that you would like to see? In terms of programs that you have introduced that have helped to alleviate or bring more awareness to the issues facing your community, with respect to cyberbullying or bullying in general, are we getting the message across? Is it resonating in the changes that you would like to see?

Ms. Kennedy: The work that we are doing in Newfoundland and Labrador has been very successful.

When a child comes out to the parent, the parent is afraid of the child not being successful in life because they do not understand what it means to be LGBTQ. We have given the teachers and the educators the information that they need to be more comfortable with what it means to be LGBTQ. We are having success, in Newfoundland and Labrador in particular and also in Ontario, with the work that we have done. We now have simple things like gender neutral bathrooms, which has a huge impact on a child who is transitioning. These are things that were not being addressed before we did our training. Another example is policies that actually spell out what lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender mean. Schools have rewritten their policies to reflect the diversity and the student population within their school environment, and it has been very successful.

Mr. Hirschfeld: We found that our education and training around cyberbullying has been very well received and had a big impact. We have actually found that a lot of educators and administrators are hungering for it because there is now so much attention on this issue swirling around the news. Many new laws are being handed down on what seems to be a monthly basis. People are scrambling for information and support. We found that it has been very welcoming. We have had resistance when a negative incident explodes and then the school is under a lot of scrutiny from the media and the community. Sometimes walls get put up and there is a resistance to invite organizations in to help them deal with their "dirty laundry." It is important for us to work in a proactive way to build relationships with institutions — not in response to a problem, but before any problem occurs — to help them build an environment where everything is in place before those problems arise. That is one issue.

I would say the greatest difficulty or level of resistance is not in people opening themselves up to wanting this information and these programs; it is fitting into the school program with all the competing demands. In the United States there is such a tremendous emphasis on testing and standards now. I do not know if the same trends exist in the Canadian system, but the pressure to spend so much time on "hard core" academic subjects and what is on the tests is driving out professional development and classroom time for a lot of the social and emotional issues. Even while there are bullying incidents in the news every day and everyone is saying we need to deal with this in our schools, they are finding it really difficult to carve out the time — and often the money — to have the necessary training. We want to see a lot of changes from the top down in the way that school authorities are structuring time spent on various parts of the curriculum.

Ms. Kennedy: With the help of Justice Canada, Egale has travelled across the country training police officers or school resource officers; the officers specifically called into schools to address issues of bullying, cyberbullying and suicide. It is a very successful program, and Justice Canada has played a significant role in helping us address that issue.

Senator Robichaud: To the first witness, you told us you have six programs that you offer and most of them deal with educators. Then you mentioned family education. How much take is there from parents who have children in those schools that bother to come out, listen and educate themselves about cyberbullying?

Mr. Hirschfeld: That question is for me, correct; for ADL?

Senator Robichaud: That is right.

Mr. Hirschfeld: It is definitely a challenge. We find that parents and families are much more involved when their children are young, at the primary school ages. As kids become teenagers they are less involved in school life. It is harder to get them to participate in programs. That is definitely an ongoing challenge.

We try to have those workshops and training opportunities for parents and families that are able to and want to attend. Those need to be coupled with other efforts by the school to send out lots of literature and information and to have clear policies in place. Sometimes schools have policies and contracts that need to be reviewed and signed by families, so they can discuss it at home with their kids. There can be pamphlets and other literature sent home to educate parents about the issues, the school's approach to dealing with them and what language to use in response.

There must be a number of initiatives working together to reach parents, many of whom are busy working and not able to physically come into the school environment to attend programs.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: Ms. Kennedy, do you speak French?

[English]

Ms. Kennedy: No.

Senator Robichaud: That is all right.

You say you have programs in Newfoundland and Labrador and also in Ontario. Why just two provinces? What is not happening?

Ms. Kennedy: That is a very good question. I think that in Newfoundland and Labrador they did an extensive review of the survey results and realized the extent of the problem. I wish I had the answer to that. In other provinces, we have tried to get the ministries of education to respond to the survey, to introduce gay-straight alliances in schools and introduce curriculum and teacher training. We have not been as successful as we have been in Newfoundland and Labrador. They are open to it.

Senator Robichaud: The problem is not educators, it is politicians?

Ms. Kennedy: That is very astute.

Senator Robichaud: You can say it. Someone, somewhere, has to realize that the situation is such that things must move. Usually it starts with politicians, with a minister, supported by staff.

Ms. Kennedy: Exactly. If you look historically at how the LGBTQ movement in Canada has gained their rights, they have been done through the courts. It has not been done at the political level.

Like every other marginalized group in society, we have had to fight through the courts. That is for any myriad of reasons, whether it be parental backlash or religious versus human rights. It is really problematic when we cannot address these issues in our parliaments.

Senator Robichaud: It does not only have to do with educators. You mentioned the people who go into the schools, like police officers or counsellors. All those people must receive some kind of training to deal with that.

Ms. Kennedy: Absolutely. If they do not get that training, they will never be able to address what it means to be LGBTQ. They will not have an understanding. They will not know the language. They will not understand the language and until we start addressing that as a society, I think we are going to continue to have these problems. They are not going to get any better.

The Chair: Ms. Kennedy, you made some comments which concern me and that is the definition of bullying and that it does not — if I understood you — adequately reflect the severity of the acts involved. You went on to say that if it was committed by adults, we would use language of criminal law such as harassment and assault.

Are children receiving equal benefit of the law as guaranteed by section 15 of the Charter?

Ms. Kennedy: I think that many times, especially when it comes to LGBTQ issues and youth, parents' rights trump the right of the child. As educators within our school system, I think we need to address that. The sexual harassment, sexual assault, verbal abuse and cyberbullying are not being addressed in the same way it would be if an adult were being targeted in the same fashion.

I feel in many cases it is a total power imbalance for our youth if the policies and processes are not in place within our education system; often the school is the only place where that child may have some refuge for six hours in a day. If the school is not accepting, then the child does not feel safe to go into school.

The Chair: What should be done to better protect children's rights?

Ms. Kennedy: First and foremost we should educate the educators and give them the language, knowledge and expertise they need to help the child, policy development, role models and early curriculum that is age appropriate. We have to create a space that is caring and inclusive for everybody.

Mr. Marnin: Our position has been generally that individuals should use the law as it exists. If the behaviour reaches the level of criminal behaviour, there is no reason not to utilize it. The department of education has also indicated and emphasized with school districts to use our civil rights laws as well, particularly when individuals are targeted because of a protected category, that those should be used in addition to criminal laws when the criminal law is violated.

Ms. Kennedy: If the child or the youth does not have the support of the home, the law is not always an option for many of our youth.

The Chair: Earlier today we had a number of young people who presented. My colleagues may disagree with me, but the two things I heard clearly was that, first, they need more parental support, and second, that it is not necessarily that the law needs to change, but attitudes.

Ms. Kennedy: That is right.

The Chair: I am sure you both deal with LGBTQ and issues about defamation and the things that the Anti-Defamation League has talked about. They are not in silos. There is also the issue of other groups, people of colour who are part of your group. What challenges do they face?

Ms. Kennedy: The whole intersectionality of race and sexual orientation and gender identity is very complex. Homophobia and transphobia transcend all cultural boundaries, I believe. I do not think you can look at any one particular group in society and say they discriminate against the LGBT population more than others.

The Chair: Maybe I did not put it clearly. I meant that the people who belong to the LGBT groups and are people of colour probably face greater challenges.

Ms. Kennedy: Absolutely. Our Aboriginal two-spirit people would face all the other "isms" that go with being Aboriginal and First Nations. A lesbian of colour would also face those issues around sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia. That whole intersectionality piece is very significant when it comes to the LGBTQ population for sure.

The Chair: Do you have any specific recommendations of what we could do to assist them, especially on the issue of cyberbullying?

Ms. Kennedy: Education.

Mr. Hirschfeld: I concur with Ms. Kennedy's comments 100 per cent. Traditionally, the Anti-Defamation League has worked on anti-prejudice issues. We have never been a bullying prevention agency. The reason we got into this end of the work is because we saw that in so many instances of bullying, kids were being targeted with bias, prejudice or hate. We saw a lot of the same dynamics in bullying situations play out the way they do with situations of prejudice, which is why we took on this work.

I agree with Ms. Kennedy that we need to have a holistic approach that looks at the intersections of all forms of bias, how they are connected, and that we can never be working on one form of prejudice in a silo. We have to be talking about them all as one.

Having said that, I also want to highlight that when you look at the research on students who are bullied and they identify the reasons why some of the groups seem to be disproportionately impacted, at least according to the literature here in the United States, it is our LGBT students or students who are perceived to be LGBT by their peers.

Also "weightism" is a huge issue. Children being targeted because they are overweight is a huge problem that is not really addressed in the same direct way that issues of racism and sexism may be. That is not to say that any one form of bias is more important than another. As stated earlier, they have to be addressed holistically, but the literature is showing that there are certain groups of children that are being disproportionately affected by bullying and we need to make a special emphasis to educate around those issues and support those children and, as stated earlier, to also ensure that our policies include enumerated categories. When we say we do not accept bullying and spell out the different groups of people who are protected under that policy, that speaks loud and clear. That is very different from saying "We do not tolerate bullying against anyone, but we will not name who those groups are." We have to say out loud and clear, our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are from different racial and ethnic groups, our immigrant students, et cetera. It is more than just symbolic; it is an important statement and an important part of the policies we put in place.

The Chair: We have heard a lot about education. The cigarette packages have a warning. Should the education to the parent be that if you buy this device for your child, there are consequences? What kind of education should there be?

Ms. Kennedy: Addressing it at a very early age is important. Changing curriculum and how we teach our children, teaching acceptance and respecting difference is a really good start.

As I mentioned in my presentation, the Internet and cyberspace can be a very healthy place if it is monitored and dealt with respectfully. Teaching respect crosses all kinds of boundaries in society. If we start there, then we will go a long way to addressing some of these issues.

Senator Ataullahjan: Does cyberbullying, like regular schoolyard bullying, get any better as kids get older? Our study has been going on for some time, and the one thing that we hear is that when kids are younger, in elementary schools, it is the girls who tend to do more bullying. I was surprised to hear that you do have some form of cyberbullying at the university level also. Do you have any statistics or facts that that is true at the university and high school level?

At the high school and university level, boys are involved in cyberbullying as well as girls, where at the elementary school level it seems to be mostly girls. As we saw with the students today, out of nine students it was eight girls and one boy.

Ms. Kennedy: The statistics certainly that we gathered in our survey indicate very highly that the girls are the target and the girls are targeting. We do have the statistics that would back that up. That is in cyberbullying and in general physical bullying.

At the university level, we do not have those statistics, but certainly at the high school level we know that it is a prevalent problem amongst our young girls.

Senator Ataullahjan: At the high school level, it is still the girls who are being bullied and doing the bullying, too?

Ms. Kennedy: Yes. It is in the segregated areas like the women's washroom and the women's change room.

Mr. Hirschfeld: With traditional forms of face-to-face bullying, we usually see a peak at the middle school level and begin to decrease as students enter high school.

With cyberbullying, some of the literature suggests that cyberbullying does not peak and then decrease as kids get to high school. It continues to stay at the same levels or maybe escalate a little bit. Cyberbullying is not a problem that kids are growing out of, as many might assume.

I do not know the literature at the university level as well, but anecdotally, because ADL does run campus programs, I have heard it is a growing problem and that more and more of the colleges we have worked with are asking if we can deliver some cyberbullying training at that level. Anecdotally, that suggests to me that it is a problem, even amongst university-aged students.

As well as the gender split, I think the research shows — and I hate to generalize, but the research has shown this — that girls are involved more heavily in relational kinds of aggression and bullying, such as gossiping, exclusion and cliques, versus physical forms of bullying. Those relational and verbal forms of aggression lend themselves much more to online environments, and so the literature does show that, oftentimes, girls are disproportionately involved in cyberbullying or online incidents of aggression a little bit more than boys are. However, both sexes are certainly involved in this problem.

Senator Nancy Ruth: You had said that one of the good things happening in Newfoundland was that there were gender-neutral washrooms. I assume you were saying that in terms of the kids who were transitioning from one gender to another.

In terms of the bullying happening in girls' washrooms in high schools, would you think that having gender-neutral bathrooms there would limit this, or will it make any difference at all in terms of the young women who are doing it now?

Ms. Kennedy: I think it will make the school climate safer for sure. I think having gender-neutral bathrooms, and individual stalls — because most schools would not be set up currently to do that, so it would be primarily individual stalls — would make the schools safer. Potentially, the incidents of violence would decrease.

The Chair: I want to thank both the Anti-Defamation League and Egale Canada — Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Marnin and Mr. Hirschfeld — for giving of your time today. We have learned much from you and we look forward to working with you.

We would now like to welcome Ms. Marie-Eve Villeneuve, Director of Communications at Vidéotron. We have been looking forward to your presentation, and I know you have some introductory comments.

[Translation]

Marie-Eve Villeneuve, Director, Corporate Communications, Vidéotron: First of all, I would like to thank you for giving us this opportunity to tell you about our Vigilance on the Net program, the largest Internet safety awareness campaign in Quebec to date.

Vigilance on the Net was designed by Vidéotron and was established in 2007. Its main objective is to inform Québécois families about the potential dangers of the Internet while at the same time providing them with the necessary tools to protect themselves.

Several realities led to the creation of this program. As an Internet service provider, Vidéotron felt they had a moral obligation to raise awareness of the dangers of certain uses made of its services. We began to offer our clients our parental control software for free as of 2007.

[English]

However, we knew this was not enough. We felt we had to provide a wider range of practical tools for Quebec Internet users, kids and adults alike. Bear in mind that in 2007 there was little information available about Internet security.

[Translation]

We therefore carried out a Léger Marketing survey of 600 Quebec parents and their 12- to 17-year-old teens. The survey was conducted with the aim of identifying in which sector we could be useful. The results told us that overall, parents were rather well aware of their teenagers' Internet habits. However, they underestimated certain practices that could put them at risk. Moreover, the survey showed us that despite their awareness of the hazards of the Web, 80 per cent of young people did not, unfortunately, navigate safely. They felt safe and secure at home in front of their screens. Vidéotron therefore decided to target young people who were born with a mouse in their hand.

In 2007, we decided to create the Vigilance on the Net Tour, which visited Quebec secondary schools over a three-year period. The content was designed with the collaboration of one of Quebec's foremost Web experts, Mr. Denis Talbot, who was able to identify the main risks on the Internet and develop the content around various themes: file-sharing, bogus gifts, phishing, passwords, chat rooms and social networking.

The Vigilance on the Net Tour involved more than 100 awareness workshops in the schools and meetings with close to 25,000 young people. At the beginning of 2010, we realized there was a need to raise awareness among a greater number of young people in all regions of Quebec. As a result, Vidéotron decided to launch an educational package for teachers. Based on the same Internet risks as those targeted during the tour, this educational kit includes a supplementary module on cyberbullying, an increasingly topical issue at the time of its launch.

We had to reach more young people because, even today, 58 per cent of adolescents do not believe that publishing photographs and providing personal information online is dangerous. Moreover, 54 per cent of teens have private conversations with strangers using instant messaging.

The Vigilance on the Net Kit is a tool that includes an educational activities guide allowing those using it to organize their own awareness activities. It also includes explanatory texts and workshops that stakeholders can undertake with young people.

[English]

You do not have to be an Internet expert to use this tool kit. We guide the teachers step by step with clear instructions. The content is divided into four modules: computer viruses; fraud and identity theft; chatting and social networking; and finally, cyberbullying.

[Translation]

As far as cyberbullying is concerned, our approach was essentially to make young people aware of this serious problem by illustrating the consequences for victims. As a practical workshop, we get them to imagine how the victim must feel and we make them play the role of the person explaining to the youth how to react if they are a bullying victim.

Each learning module can be carried out in 30 minutes or more, according to the needs. The various workshops can be adapted to the age of the group and allow young people to express themselves on the issues raised, to talk about their own experiences and to demonstrate their skills at home. This new tool allows teachers to engage in dialogue with students on burning issues that are part of their daily lives. So far, close to 100,000 young people have benefited from the Vigilance on the Net Kit.

It should be noted that the kit is offered for free to elementary or secondary school teachers who request it.

[English]

We also encourage people to visit our website, vigilancesurlenet.com, which has a fountain of information, practical tips, video capsules and more.

[Translation]

There is growing demand for the Vigilance on the Net Kit. Since the beginning of 2012, more than 130 kits have been sent to educational institutions and various youth centres.

Surfing the Net is something like going on a car trip: it can be dangerous but that does not mean you should not do it. We try to help young people create their own "seatbelt" and hone their instincts as far as safety is concerned. We hope that in doing so they will acquire the tools that will allow them, as adults, to help their children be aware of the dangers online.

[English]

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you for your presentation. What means do parents have if their child is being cyberbullied and they are using your service? How can they report the cyberbullying to you, and what happens if they do report it to you?

Ms. Villeneuve: Vidéotron is an Internet service provider, so we are not the experts where you would actually call in cyberbullying. We offer on our website, though, different organizations that help, such as Tel-jeunes in Quebec, which is quite big. The children and the parents can call. There is a line for both. At the same time, if a parent is interested in this tool, it is at the intention of the teachers. We would like them to recommend to the schools to get themselves a tool kit.

Senator Ataullahjan: Would you be able to take down a cyberbully's account, though?

Ms. Villeneuve: This is a different subject for cyberbullying. If people are victims of cyberbullying, identity theft, or anything like that, they can go on the Vidéotron.com website and report an abuse. Then we do — I am sorry; the words are not coming in English this afternoon.

Senator Ataullahjan: You can say it in French.

[Translation]

Ms. Villeneuve: The Vidéotron information security team would then conduct an investigation as to what should be done in the future. But we are indeed in touch with the police, if we need to take it to another level.

Senator Robichaud: When you are informed of a cyberbullying incident, can you find the source? Young people were telling us earlier on that they create phony accounts and all sorts of messages are sent. That must go through a service provider, does it not?

Ms. Villeneuve: Vidéotron has a computer security team that does indeed carry out investigations on these kinds of accounts. At the same time, we work alongside the police, because above and beyond action taken by the Internet service provider, a police investigation is required.

Senator Robichaud: But, if I may, can you identify the source?

Ms. Villeneuve: I am not the security expert for the company, I am in charge of the Vigilance on the Net program. I would have to find out that information.

Senator Robichaud: We are told that these messages are impossible to trace, which is why it is so difficult to fight cyberbullying. It seems to me, given today's technological advances, that there must be a way. Perhaps I am wrong.

Ms. Villeneuve: I will have to check with my information security team.

Senator Robichaud: Thank you, Ms. Villeneuve.

[English]

The Chair: This afternoon, we heard about Tumblr and Formspring, two forums the young students were speaking about, where you can be anonymous and send anonymous messages to different people, and classmates would not know who the message came from. Would your company be able to find out who that anonymous sender is?

Ms. Villeneuve: I will have to check. It is most likely related to the IP address, but I will have to check and get back to you.

The Chair: Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: At the end of your presentation, you compared surfing the Internet or the Web to a car trip and that there could be an accident. You invited young people to have their own seatbelt. What is that seatbelt if they want to protect themselves?

Ms. Villeneuve: In the various modules, we give them practical advice that they can try at home and put into practice.

We try to use common situations of everyday life. Then, we tell them to do it on the Internet and we ask them if they would do it in real life. They are practical tips. Often, when we are in front of a computer, we feel safe. If someone is cyberbullying, we invite the people into the schoolyard or ask them to create a Facebook page against someone. Many young people do not transpose it into real life. It would be the same concept as mounting a smear campaign against someone and issuing an invitation to a live event. Many young people feel protected by their anonymity and they feel stronger in front of the screen or surrounded by their family. We try to give them some tools so they realize the scope of what they are doing.

Let's take the simple example of publishing a vacation photo on your Facebook page. If that page is unprotected, it is the equivalent of going to the street corner and distributing vacation photos at the beach with your family to everyone. This is concrete advice that they can associate with their online behaviour. Without moralizing, we try to give them some tips.

Senator Robichaud: We must not preach, but give them the means with which to protect themselves.

Ms. Villeneuve: For example, regarding passwords, we explain to them that a password is often the name of their first pet along with their year of birth. When you give the year of birth and go into a chat room, that attracts people who are not the age they say they are. People believe they are chatting with people their own age. They see 92, but in the end, it is someone passing themselves off as being younger. We explain to them how to create more complex passwords, but ones they will be able to remember.

Senator Robichaud: I also have difficulties with passwords.

Ms. Villeneuve: Come and see me afterwards and I will give you some tips.

[English]

The Chair: I have some questions for you. I understand you are a service that is only provided in Quebec, correct?

Ms. Villeneuve: Yes, Quebec and the Ottawa region.

The Chair: Do you know if there are services like yours across the country?

Ms. Villeneuve: I know that in Quebec we are the main one, and we developed the program into a toolkit for teachers, so I think we are the only one in Canada.

The Chair: Sorry, I have not had the opportunity to look at your modules. I have some questions about the modules. Can you expand on how many modules there are? You said, if I understood you correctly, that it takes half an hour for a module?

Ms. Villeneuve: Yes.

The Chair: Is there a specific module directed to parents or guardians as to the challenges of bullying?

Ms. Villeneuve: I will come back to the different modules. There are four modules: one on computer viruses, one on fraud and identity theft, one on chatting and social networking, and one on cyberbullying.

The way it works for the modules, we always start with a video that impersonates a situation that a teenager may find himself or herself in. Then we have it followed by different types of questions, quizzes, discussion subjects and topics that can be done for 30 minutes or more, depending on the subject.

It is interesting that sometimes a teacher can adapt the modules to a situation that has just arisen in the school or on TV, something that is happening right now.

There is not a portion for parents, but we hope students can bring home the tools and what they learn in the modules.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: You offer various packages. When someone is requesting a package, do you provide information on possible accidents — I do not mean dangers on the Web — or do you not talk about that, because that could harm the publicity of the good services that you offer?

Ms. Villeneuve: Concerning Vidéotron?

Senator Robichaud: Yes.

Ms. Villeneuve: The kit has four modules. Teachers who request it receive all of that on a CD, with posters, questions, and even a printable brochure for the parents.

Senator Robichaud: I am not talking about what you distribute to the schools. If I buy one of your packages, for television, Internet, et cetera, your marketing is based on the services you offer. Are there any warnings?

Ms. Villeneuve: For our products, yes. We use the commercial Internet site Vidéotron.com to provide the greatest number of tools to our clients to calculate their Internet use, as well as parental control, et cetera. There is a lot of advice on the Vidéotron.com website, but above all, Vigilance on the Net is also a reference for advice on phishing, identity theft and fraud.

Senator Robichaud: We must visit your website, is that right?

Ms. Villeneuve: Our customer service agents have the training to provide information to people. We will not necessarily talk about the dangers of the Internet, because we are really a provider, but we feel a social responsibility to make the information available to our clients.

Senator Robichaud: You have answered my question. Thank you.

[English]

The Chair: Are youth using your services? What kind of feedback are you getting from youth and adults on the services they use?

Ms. Villeneuve: When we started giving out the toolkits, we sent out surveys. It was our first try at the toolkit. Teachers are happy with the product because it is really easy to use. Often teachers think they know less than the kids they teach with respect to the Internet, so with this tool, they can actually do their own little events and start discussions. They are equipped now to do something, and it was something they were looking for.

There is more information in English than in French, so there is definitely a need there. The feedback from the teachers is very positive.

When we used to do the tour, we would get feedback from the kids every single time we had a session. It was really appreciated because of the tone and the examples we provided, which hit home.

[Translation]

The Chair: What technologies, in your opinion, will be used by people who will be cyberbullying in the near future, of which the committee should be made aware?

Ms. Villeneuve: Future risks? I would say identity theft. We talk about it less now, but it is a danger. People sometimes think that it is safe to enter information on a website, but we should always ask ourselves questions. There is a lot of awareness-raising. Therefore I would say identity theft, the sharing of confidential information that we should keep to ourselves.

The Chair: What kinds of technologies do law enforcement agencies, teachers or parents need to counter future challenges?

Ms. Villeneuve: To begin, a parent should use common sense. I will not necessarily recommend a certain technology, but I would say that parents should put the computer in a central location in the home so that they can keep an eye on it. This is the best kind of parental control you can have at home. I think it is really important for parents to monitor their kids' access to the Internet. You can also see what is going if you are on Facebook and Twitter. The police also give a lot of workshops on the subject. It is information. I think that type of thing is more effective than going through technology, because curiosity and education, both on the part of parents and children, will help put into practice these little tricks. You can never completely protect yourself, but if you are aware, you can make more enlightened choices.

The Chair: Ms. Villeneuve, thank you for your presentation and for having answered our questions. You have provided us with a lot of useful information for our study.

Ms. Villeneuve: Thank you.

[English]

Thank you. We have learned a lot. This is an ongoing topic, and we looked for to meeting with you again.

I would now like to welcome Mr. Marvin Bernstein, Chief Advisor, Advocacy, UNICEF Canada. We always appreciate your contribution and look forward to what you have to say.

Marvin Bernstein, Chief Advisor, Advocacy, UNICEF Canada: On behalf of UNICEF Canada, thank you for inviting me to contribute to your study on the important issue of cyberbullying and Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Thank you for the kind introduction. For the record, I should indicate that I am a lawyer with 35 years of senior leadership and advocacy experience in the fields of child welfare and children's rights. Prior to joining UNICEF Canada in 2010, I served as Saskatchewan's second children's advocate from 2005 to 2010, where I was an independent officer of the provincial legislature.

I would like to start by thanking the committee for your important work to advance children's rights, as evident by both the current study on cyberbullying and past initiatives such as the report, Children: The Silenced Citizens. UNICEF Canada is particularly impressed by your efforts at youth engagement in the course of this study.

It is well known that more children are online than ever before. The advancement of the Internet, mobile phones and other digital media bring an increased risk of bullying.

However, at the same time, these evolving digital media also provide children and young people with many educational and social benefits, such as levels of access to information, culture, communication, socialization and entertainment impossible to imagine even 20 years ago.

Many reactions to cyberbullying either undershoot or overshoot the mark. At one end of the spectrum, some individuals minimize bullying as just another normal, age-old part of growing up, a rite of passage. Even the courts sometimes see the impact of cyberbullying of a child as only a mild form of embarrassment, as evidenced by the statements made by both the Nova Scotia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal in the case of A.B. v. Bragg Communications, the Halifax Herald and Global Television, referred to in our brief. UNICEF Canada was, for the first time, granted intervener status in the appeal proceedings in the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeal was recently heard by that court on May 10, and judgment has been reserved. Our factum can be provided to this committee if so requested.

On the other hand, others overreact and wish to restrict children's access to digital media based on fear and insufficient understanding. It is, therefore, important to respond to the risks presented by the digital environment in a balanced, evidence-informed and measured way, while ensuring that children are safe. Young people themselves identify cyberbullying as the most serious online threat. It can be particularly traumatic because of its anonymity, its capacity to intrude at any time into places that would otherwise be safe for young people and its public and permanent character that can seriously damage reputations and future educational and employment prospects. Bullying, including cyberbullying, is a serious form of violence against children, the effects of which can include violations of many rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this regard, Appendix 2 of our written brief, on pages 17 and 18, sets out the provisions of the convention that, in our estimation, are most relevant and are potentially engaged by the issue of cyberbullying. The UNICEF report, Child Safety Online: Global Challenges and Strategies, which has been provided to you, reflects on the need to frame a convention-based protection response that strikes a balance between all forms of violence, such as cyberbullying, sexual abuse and exploitation, on the one hand, and the right to information, freedom of expression and association, privacy and non-discrimination, on the other hand. The balance must be anchored in the best interests of the child, as the primary consideration, taking into account the child's right to be heard and taken seriously and the recognition of the evolving capacities of children and young people. The child rights-based approach means keeping not only the protection of children in the front of one's mind but also the range of these rights in balance. It also means keeping in view the impacts of policy, programming and legislative decisions on all children engaged in the cyberbullying processes, be they victims, perpetrators or bystanders, as they can all be seriously affected in different ways. The UNICEF report suggests that the challenge for policymakers is to coordinate action, by a range of public and private actors, on a number of interrelated issues that ultimately come under the topic of building a safer Internet.

A multi-tiered approach is necessary to effectively respond to the potential threats to children's well-being and safety in the online environment. Parents, teachers, social workers, health professionals, law enforcement officials and even the media all have a role to play. Of course, the best way to deal with cyberbullying is to stop it before it happens, but no singular action will do so. According to the UNICEF report, the development of a strategic protection framework should be based on four main objectives: firstly, to empower children and promote their resilience; secondly, to remove impunity for abusers; thirdly, to reduce the availability of access to harm; and lastly, to promote recovery and rehabilitation for children who have experienced harm.

While anti-bullying legislation is not a panacea in and of itself, it remains an important prong of a multi-tiered approach to bring attention to the negative and life-threatening impacts of bullying behaviour in all of its manifestations. In our view, any effective anti-bullying legislation should contain the elements set out on page 13 of our written brief.

Before anti-bullying legislation is developed, however, a child rights impact assessment process should occur so that the best interests of children are placed front and centre, risks can be mitigated, and further harm and rights violations do not unintentionally occur. For example, some laws allow for criminal charges for distributing and accessing child pornography by young people when teens share sexual images of themselves and others and perhaps are not even fully aware of some of the implications. One of the main objectives of a child rights impact assessment is to ensure that while seeking to protect certain rights of children and youth, other rights are not inadvertently undermined. For example, in seeking to support the implementation of Article 19, the right to protection, it is important not to undermine rights related to education in Articles 28 and 29, as can happen when bullies are suspended or expelled from school rather than receiving supportive interventions such as counselling.

In conclusion, in order to strengthen the protective environment and to effectively address the risks inherent in cyberbullying, UNICEF Canada is pleased to put forward 10 recommendations for this committee's consideration as summarized in Appendix 1, on pages 15 and 16 of our written brief. In fact, the way the written submission is formatted, there is an attempt to identify five different prongs to support protective strategies, and then the recommendations are grouped under those five separate headings.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to responding to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Bernstein. We very much appreciated you providing a brief beforehand so that we had an opportunity to look at it.

I am pleased to say that we now have the representatives of the Red Cross, Mr. Chris Hilton and Ms. Alisha Virmani.

Chris Hilton, Senior Manager, Government Relations, Canadian Red Cross: Thank you for having us here. My name is Chris Hilton. I am Senior Manager, Government Relations, with the Canadian Red Cross. I am happy to be here today to participate in this study and to share some perspectives from the Canadian Red Cross on this important issue.

We are an active player in Canada in the important job of raising awareness of bullying and helping to prepare and train communities, schools and individuals to deal with the problem. For the last 28 years, we have been working on preventing violence in Canada and around the world. Part of this work has resulted in the creation of a program called Beyond the Hurt. This is a program that is specifically focused on preventing bullying and harassment.

Last year alone, in Canada, we trained more than 100,000 adults, children and youth in bullying prevention. This program is unique because it engages youth directly. We have more than 1,000 youth facilitators. What this means is that the Canadian Red Cross train youth who, in turn, become leaders in their schools and deliver the program to peers and younger students. They also play a lead in bullying prevention events, such as Pink Shirt Day and bullying prevention weeks.

With me at the table is Amélie Doyon, who works in our national office, in the RespectED Department, and hopefully she and I can provide some context and understanding of the work that the Red Cross does around the country.

However, I think of greater interest to the committee and to senators is Alisha Virmani, who is sitting beside me. She is a youth facilitator and has travelled here from New Brunswick to be with us today.

Ms. Virmani has been instrumental in combatting the scourge of bullying in her home province of New Brunswick. Recently she played a key role in helping suggest legislative amendments to the Education Act in New Brunswick, which focused on cyberbullying. She is here to talk to you about the reality of young people in schools today and about how she is fighting bullying with the Canadian Red Cross in her school and in her community. It is through courageous leaders like Ms. Virmani, who herself has dealt with cyberbullying, that the Canadian Red Cross is working to make communities, homes and schools safer for youth across the country.

I will turn it over to her for a few minutes to give an introduction, and then we would be happy to take your questions.

Alisha Virmani, Youth Leader, Canadian Red Cross: Hello again. I am a student in high school, in grade 12. I am here from Fredericton, New Brunswick. I am delighted and honoured to be here and to be able to talk to you today.

My role with the Red Cross is as a youth facilitator. We do training sessions and presentations, not just for students; we work with adults as well. Locally, at home, I do a lot of work with the Department of Education and some new legislation that has been put in place in New Brunswick in terms of amendments to the Education Act with regard to cyberbullying and bullying as well.

In talking about my recommendations and suggestions, I am always open to talking about my own experience. I was a victim of cyberbullying in high school and middle school. Much of the impact that bullying has had on me is able to come out into suggestions as to what can be done so that other students do not have to face the same negative impact that I experienced as a child. Again, I am willing to take any questions you may have.

Senator Ataullahjan: Thank you for being here and for your presentations.

Ms. Virmani, if there is one thought you would like to leave us with, what can we, as a committee, do? What recommendations can we give that would help young students like you, students who have been cyberbullied? Did you get help from your parents, your peers or the teachers? How did you cope with this?

Ms. Virmani: In response to the question about the one main thought I want to get across, my main suggestion for the Senate committee would be with regard to education. When I was in elementary school, there was not a lot being taught, as part of the traditional education curriculum, in terms of compassion and normal social skills. A lot of the skills are assumed for children to develop, and it is assumed that these skills are taught by their parents. Much of the time there are missing links there and the actual education for children is not put in place; it is put in place much later on.

Currently, programs are offered through the Red Cross regarding bullying and developing compassion. However, that is an external resource. It is something that schools can choose to participate in. It is not something that is legislated in education throughout Canada. It is not something that is mandatory. We need to focus on developing that education for children, and not just for children but for parents as well, because many parents have the misconception that if I was bullied as a child, it is a phase of life. My children can be bullied as well, because that will happen.

Senator Ataullahjan: When you needed the help, who did you go to? Did you talk to your parents, your teachers or your peers?

Ms. Virmani: I talked directly to my guidance counsellor, who reported the bullying incident to my principal. Unfortunately, in my case it was not dealt with properly.

To give you a bit of background so that you understand the scenario, I was bullied on Twitter. A lot of sexually harassing comments about me were on Twitter. When I reported it to my principal and my guidance counsellor, the response given was that everybody gets bullied; this is kind of a normal thing that kids go through. The response given through the administration was that this is just boys being boys, and it was just shrugged off. The response was not as good as I wanted, even though I had approached the appropriate group.

Senator Ataullahjan: At any time did you speak to your parents about the bullying?

Ms. Virmani: I did.

Senator Ataullahjan: Did they go to the school and talk to the principal?

Ms. Virmani: They did, and they were absolutely furious with how they responded. My parents brought in the Human Rights Code. They brought it forward to the principal and said they would like to talk to the constable about it, that it was infringing on human rights because it was sexual harassment. However, the school shrugged it off and said they did not want to discuss it any further, that it had been dealt with. There are a lot of issues with regard to maintaining reputations.

Senator Zimmer: To all of you, thank you for being here; Ms. Virmani, especially you, because it is courageous of you to be here.

This is a continuation of Senator Ataullahjan's questions. Maybe I did not get this right. When you discovered someone being a cyberbully, did you just go to the teachers or did you confront the individual who was doing it?

Ms. Virmani: I did not confront the individual doing it, for the sake of my own safety. He is a large gentleman, a football player, and I am a petite girl. My safety came first. I approached the guidance counsellor, my teacher and the principal. The response was: "We will give a two-day suspension." That is it. When I asked how will we change his behaviour and stop him from repeating this, it was not talked about; it was just case closed.

Senator Zimmer: Did the bully know or find out that you had gone to the teachers?

Ms. Virmani: He was under the assumption that I had told the principal, but he did not have confirmed sources of whether it was me or not.

Senator Zimmer: With the suspicion, was there further retaliation because he thought you might have gone to the teachers?

Ms. Virmani: There was, actually. It resulted in more bullying, not on Twitter but in person, in terms of gossiping, bad talking, exclusion in the classroom and discriminatory remarks made in front of me.

Senator Zimmer: What is the end result? Has that now been dealt with and resolved with the individual, or does it continue?

Ms. Virmani: It was dealt with by the fact that we are all graduating now, so we avoid crossing paths. However, it was not properly resolved. The solution that the school gave was a two-day suspension. In the bully's opinion, in terms of what he posted on Facebook regarding that, he said, "Awesome, a two-day suspension. I can go party now."

Senator Zimmer: Did the bully continue to do this to others after that, and has it not been resolved at all with him at this time?

Ms. Virmani: No. He has done it to other women as well and made the same derogatory comments. If the behaviour is not being stopped, that cycle of bullying is not being changed, especially if the school is not intervening by providing supports for the bully. There are many supports for the victims but not many for the bullies themselves. If that cycle is not being broken, he will not learn a lesson and he will keep doing what he is doing. The behaviour that he is putting in place right now as a high school student, he will go on to university and to the workplace, and those behaviours will not change.

Senator Zimmer: Are the bully's parents influential in the community such that maybe the school did not want to deal with them, because of who the family is?

Ms. Virmani: That is a very valid point that you raise. It was not about the parents being influential. The bully being a football player, and with the homecoming game coming up, the principal himself had said, "They have a big game coming up and I do not want to put anything else in place." In my opinion, that is discrimination itself, because if a studious student came to school and you said, "I am giving a two-day suspension," that is taking away something that is important to them; whereas for a football player, sports are important to them. Taking school away from them will not do anything versus taking away their sports. Making a special exception for the homecoming game, in my opinion, is clearly unacceptable.

Senator Zimmer: Let me know his number. I will call the opposition playing against him and make sure they take the number on his back.

Congratulations to your mom and dad.

Senator Ataullahjan: You brought up an interesting point, I think one we are hearing for the first time: support for the person who does the bullying. What kind of support are you talking about? We have heard from previous experts that we should engage them in dialogue, that zero tolerance does not work, yet there should be consequences for their actions. You brought up the idea of support.

Ms. Virmani: When I was talking to the New Brunswick ministerial committee, that is now in the New Brunswick legislation. I am not familiar with the Ontario legislation and what is in place, but the suggestions that I had made that are being put in place in New Brunswick are, as in support for the bully, there needs to be more conversation and dialogue with the guidance counsellors. Many students do not realize that the guidance counsellor is not just there for the victim but is there for the bully as well; and that can be made an approachable resource.

Another thing is education for the bully. Many times the bully does not realize the seriousness or impact of what they are doing. They do not realize they are infringing on codes that are in place. There is a Human Rights Act, but do kids know that they are infringing on someone's rights? Do they realize it is a criminal offence? It is not defined for children. They do not know. Much of this language is either not shown to them or the language being used in these codes is not in children-friendly words for them to understand. There are great resources. It is just making use of them.

In addition to guidance counsellor support, there needs to be less emphasis on suspensions. I understand schools have a zero tolerance policy, but a suspension is not teaching anything and it is not breaking a cycle. It is a form of discipline, but a better form of discipline would be encouraging community service. If you are doing community service, you are becoming compassionate. You are becoming more caring. You are learning proper social skills.

In addition to community service, they can be engaging in reflections, refocusing on the behaviour and realizing what the root cause is, why they are bullying. Until that root cause is discovered, they will not change their behaviour. That bully will still bully.

Senator Ataullahjan: At any stage, do the bully's parents get involved?

Ms. Virmani: In my situation, my parents directly approached the parents and the parents defended the child. The exact words said by the father were, "He is just being a child. He is just being a boy. I was bullied as a kid. You get through it. It happens to everybody." The response from parents is that every parent wants to protect their child. Many times parents do not even know how to respond. They know how to respond if their child is being victimized, but often parents do not know how to respond to the fact that their child is a bully and coming to the realization that sometimes there are issues that need to be dealt with.

Mr. Hilton: Chair, if I can add a little point, one of the focuses of the Red Cross work is that it is not targeted just at youth. We have programs targeted at adults. We have programs targeted at people who will be in charge of youth and children, and making the entire population understand the problem. It is not isolated with one student. It is not isolated in one school. It is a better understanding overall that this is occurring, and giving schools and community groups the resources to deal with this as the larger scale.

Ms. Virmani and I were talking on the way up here that bullying comes to the forefront when there is an incident that is so significant that the media picks it up and then there is a reactionary response. The Red Cross is working hard to have knowledge and awareness across the country, in schools, with people who deal with bullying, and we think that is key to bringing this idea of respect for one another to the forefront and having students, youth and adults all understand what bullying is and how to deal with it.

The Chair: Mr. Bernstein, do you want to add anything to that?

Mr. Bernstein: Yes. I wanted to reinforce the value of legislation as one prong. Legislation is not a panacea. In Ontario, Bill 13, which has been ordered for third reading, is the government's provincial bill. When you go through the preamble in terms of the objects of the bill, it talks about the importance of education and prevention. It does speak to providing support not only for victims of cyberbullying but also the perpetrators and the witnesses, the bystanders who are all impacted in different ways. It speaks to the value of instituting implementation plans for prevention and intervention to address cyberbullying. It places obligations on the minister, on boards and on the principal within individual schools. Part of the preamble speaks to the fact that there is a responsibility on members of the whole school. It also speaks to the importance of providing training and in-service supports and information for staff and students. It talks about the importance of the parents' role.

Sometimes what one hears is that there is other legislation: There is criminal law, tort law, human rights law. The difficulty with looking to other legislation that is not specifically targeting anti-bullying is that it is a blunt instrument. It is not designed to address the problem, the mischief of cyberbullying. It also is after the fact. It is responding to cyberbullying or bullying that has already taken place.

We want to provide prevention, information and quality education. As we say in our submission, an Angus Reid opinion poll conducted in February of this year indicated that 90 per cent of Canadians support provincial legislation to address cyberbullying.

What we do not want to see is the focus on legislation that is all about sanctions, consequences and penal implications, because just as this young girl has indicated, many times the perpetrators of cyberbullying do not understand the implications. They may not be receiving proper information and effective parenting at home.

One of the points that we make in our submission is that one has to look at the whole environment of violence. Oftentimes the victims of physical punishment, those who are being abused or neglected within their own homes, become the very students who are engaging in bullying behaviour. In a sense we are penalizing them; we are re-victimizing them. It is not about consequences. It is not about penal sanctions. The Ontario legislation also speaks to progressive discipline.

We have seen that zero tolerance does not work. It is not about punishing children who will then go out and repeat the same acts. How do we redirect them? How do we give them proper information and engage them? What is the curriculum? What is the intervention plan that will be developed within the schools?

That is exactly what we are seeing. The Ontario bill has a definition of bullying and cyberbullying. In the Quebec legislation there is a reference to student committees. The Ontario bill empowers young people to create their own committees, to create their own organizations that they can lead, and they can address gender discrimination and discrimination on the basis of visible minorities, disabilities, sexual orientation.

The Quebec bill speaks to the fact that there can be student committees. They also postulate a student ombudsman to support children within the process, to facilitate ongoing communication and proper mediation.

Our concern is more rooted in the federal bill and in Nova Scotia, which imposes liability and sanctions on parents who should know that their children are engaging in cyberbullying. If we want to see a change in attitudes, we have to educate; we have to prevent; we have to build in supportive counselling for victims, for perpetrators and bystanders. We should not engage in a cycle of more sanctions and more penalties. That will not turn this around.

Senator White: I want to congratulate you, Ms. Virmani, on the maturity of your response. I am not sure many bullies would understand it, but I do appreciate it.

We have heard a lot about bullying over the last few weeks, with many people saying that sanctions are not the answer, although it seems to be the only solution that we are using in most schools, namely, suspensions and expulsions.

My background is in policing, but primarily over the past 25 years, it has been in restorative practices. In New Brunswick, do they use restorative practices in their schools, and, in particular, would it have been a better solution to your situation? Restorative practices mean peer justice systems and community justice. Instead of a stick, many would say trying to get something that does stick.

Ms. Virmani: In regard to that, on the school level, there is still a focus on the expulsions and suspensions. That has not been changed, but the education act and the suggestions that I made about legislation are being put in place in September. I would be graduated by then through the school system, but, again, those suggestions about a more restorative approach will be put in place in September.

Senator Robichaud: Mr. Bernstein, you are saying that different measures in law are being put in place in difference provinces, but what we heard through the youth that presented some testimony this afternoon is that cyberbullying is anonymous. There is no way of finding out, at least from what the youth were telling us, who is doing it and where it is coming from.

Will this fact of having legislation put us in a sort of false sense of security? We think we will be protected but it will not change much.

Mr. Bernstein: I think that it will change attitudes. I think young people sometimes are not aware of the impacts. They may think they are engaging in something that is a practical joke. What we have seen is the level of seriousness. It is not just a mild form of embarrassment. We are not toying with just the feelings of other children, other students, but we have seen youth suicides. We have seen young people engage in serious acts of self-harm because they have been ridiculed, and it is important for children to receive the proper information so that they understand that not only are they hurting other children but they may be also incurring some potential liability "reputationally." When they transmit something, it has a permanent quality to it. It could affect their job prospects and their educational prospects into the future.

It is important to provide this information and to have a focus within the school. In many instances, these are children who are not receiving the information from home. They may be children who are in institutional care, children who are within the child protection system, so if they do not get the information in the school, where will they get it from?

Senator Robichaud: You are making the point that I wanted to make. Yes, legislation can serve a purpose, but it should be well communicated to the people, the parents and the school system. All the recommendations we heard were around education. I am trying to make the point here that if you have legislation, people should know about it and there should be programs to put it out so that the youth are aware. I suppose this would be done through the school.

Mr. Bernstein: That is right, and this ties in as well with the fact that there needs to be some kind of campaign, some public awareness campaign so that parents are understanding that this is reaching a certain level of concern within the school system, and they should be attempting to remain vigilant and support their children.

One of the things that came out of the UNICEF report is that one of the most important considerations for children who are the victims of bullying and cyberbullying is to have a responsive parent. Often there is a digital divide so that parents and adults do not understand the online environment as well as their children. There is a need for them to become engaged, not only children receiving the education but parents as well, so that they understand some of the risks that are being undertaken by their children, and they can support them. They can build trust and more effective communication so that if their children are experiencing some level of risk or concern, or if they have a sibling, friend or peer who is at risk, they can go to their parents and talk about it. That is an important point within this whole system. It is not just children. It is families, it is parents and it is the community.

Senator Robichaud: With respect to the Red Cross, you said that you work with about 100,000 individuals of all ages?

Mr. Hilton: Last year, we trained 100,000 adults, children and youth in respect to specifically the Beyond the Hurt programming.

Amélie Doyon, Creating Safe Environments Officer, Canadian Red Cross: We have different types of programs in violence and abuse prevention. Last year, we trained 362,000 adults, children and youth in violence prevention. Specifically on bullying and harassment prevention, we trained 100,000 people.

I cannot agree more with what my colleague is saying. The education needs to touch the parents, the youth and children, and it needs to come at a very young age, but we also need to provide some solutions and tools for schools. Most of the time they do not know how to approach the problem, and they do not know how to solve it.

That is our approach at the Red Cross. For every youth training session that we have, we also have an adult component to it, so everybody is on the same page. They all understand the problem in the same way, and they are all looking for solutions that are applicable to their reality and to their communities.

Senator Robichaud: What initiates those training sessions? How do communities go about it?

Ms. Doyon: It is usually a request from the school. There may be a problem in the school, they come to us and we provide them with some training. We usually enter into an agreement with the school and have a partnership with them. Teachers select youth facilitators in the school — Ms. Virmani is one of them — we train those youth, and they remain in the schools and provide education to their peers and to the younger students. We have different activities for different grades, so it is not always the same information that is repeated over and over. We are kind of building on the knowledge, grade after grade.

Senator Robichaud: If I may ask Ms. Virmani, what school and what community? I did not catch that.

Ms. Virmani: It is Fredericton, New Brunswick.

I would like to add something, though, to what Ms. Doyon was saying. There are great suggestions from adults about legislation and education, but as a student, I would like to say there are many resources out there. There is a lot of great community outreach, for example, through UNICEF and the Red Cross, through the community programs, but they are not being requested until after an incident occurs. The problem with that is people hear all these news stories about bullying, those incidents are being shown in the media and turned into this big news event, but people are developing a sense of immunity to hearing about bullying stories. They hear about it so much that people do not realize the impact, that it is still the lives of students that are being lost. Every single story needs to be treated on an individual basis and looked upon as something very important. Parents, students and educators do not see that because they have developed a sense of immunity and a tolerance to the effect of this is happening so often and what is going to change.

My concern regarding having just the legislation or even education is that, if it is not something that all schools must participate in and it is not something that is regulated — it is not a request; it is something that needs to be put in place, it is not something that they have to go out and get, if that makes sense.

Senator Robichaud: You are putting the responsibility to bring that in the schools on provincial governments, then, so that this is part of the responsibility of the school.

Mr. Hilton: To make it a little simpler across the board for provincial governments, curriculum is defined by a variety of different reasons and what students need. Clearly, we are seeing across the country that there is a need for education and understanding around bullying. Governments, boards of education, school boards and even individual schools need to try and take responsibility to protect their children and educate themselves as to what tools we have, what avenues we can put in place and —this is really important — what standard operating procedures we can have so that we can deal with these kind of things.

You can see from Ms. Virmani's story that it is one-off too often; they are dealing with cases in vastly different ways from one to the next, and that is no way to find real solutions. There has to be an understanding that this will happen, and we need to have procedures to handle it.

Senator Robichaud: Are attitudes changing? When Ms. Virmani made her comment that the first reaction from the authorities was, "Well, boys will be boys and they are fooling around; they have no idea of what they are doing or the effect," are people starting to realize that bullying was happening? In your case, it was not anonymous. I am just saying that from the students we heard this afternoon, there is a lot of cyberbullying going on, which is anonymous. Was that the case in your school, too?

Ms. Virmani: I knew the Twitter account in the Twitter incident. Without my own experience, some of my friends have experienced issues regarding bullying being anonymous. I am not sure if you are aware, but there is a website called Formspring. People can ask questions anonymously; there is no way to track who said it. It is supposed to help you better get to know a person or better get to know your friends, but it is being used as a huge avenue for cyberbullying and it is completely anonymous. One of my friends at my local high school, instead of writing a question, there was a comment, and the comment that was left was, "Why do you not go back to your own country?" This girl was a student. She had just come to Canada; she was here from Sri Lanka, and she was doing her exchange program here. That was the comment left on her Formspring.

There are incidents like that, even for me. I have experienced similar things on Facebook. On Facebook, there are external applications. A lot of parents and educators see that, yes, there is bullying on Facebook, but they only see the surface of it. They see that people post photos and videos, but there is so much more to Facebook that adults do not realize how much of an avenue it is to bullying. There are external applications that students download and put on their Facebook; there are things like Compare People, How Ugly Are Your Friends, Rate My Friends, and Bathroom Wall. These are all applications hosted by third-party companies. They are getting money to run these applications on Facebook, so these are businesses promoting bullying, in a sense.

Through things like that, like the Bathroom Wall, people had written really negative and mean comments about me and about my Indian heritage, they were anonymous, so I could not track them down.

It was not just an issue of Facebook; it was an issue of external third-party applications on Facebook. Therefore, it is a larger issue than people see.

Mr. Bernstein: I just wanted to talk about changing attitudes. One of the recommendations that UNICEF is advancing to this committee is promoting rights respecting schools. I did want to indicate that there are 12 rights-respecting schools in Canada that emphasize the importance of changing the culture, having a healthy attitude, and bringing information around children's rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is reaching about 3,000 children in Canada. In the United Kingdom, there are 2,500 rights-respecting schools.

The research that has been done in the United Kingdom has shown that the schools see a decrease in bullying, with incidents of bullying referred to as "minimal," a reduction in prejudices, improved rates of attendance, improved student self-esteem and a stronger engagement in learning and leadership. Teachers also report a greater level of job satisfaction and a greater level of communication about respectful behaviours.

This is an initiative that is taking hold incrementally within Canada, and is a direction that we would commend to this committee.

The Chair: Ms. Virmani, I have a few questions of you. Before I ask them, I want to say to you that we had via video conference a number of students as witnesses earlier, and I want to convey to you that our committee very much appreciates your being here. We certainly are concerned that you do not have any other issues because you have presented here, so please stay safe.

What would you have liked to have happened immediately when you reported it to the counsellor? We would like to look at recommendations as might emerge from that.

Ms. Virmani: In regard to my particular experience?

The Chair: When you went to report it to the counsellor, what would you have liked the counsellor to do? You have mentioned some of the things, but what would you have liked the counsellor and the principal to have done?

Ms. Virmani: At that very moment, I would have liked to know how things were being dealt with, because the only response given to me by the school was, "It has been dealt with; it has been taken care of." I understand that schools have a policy about confidentiality and protecting other students, but just being told that things have been dealt with is not satisfactory enough for me to know that I am safe and that things will change for me. That left me with no answers.

At that moment, that would be the number one thing: I would like to know what the school will do; how will the school help protect me; and what changes will they make directly, so that when I go to my next period class, I am not sitting beside the bully, because I had to go to my next period class and sit right beside the bully.

Simple things like that: Just having let me know in the moment how the school will protect me would have been much appreciated.

Looking at a broader scheme of what I would expect to see within the week, I would have expected to hear, "This is the consequence that has been put in place and this is how we plan on changing it." It ought to start off with "these are what our goals are for the procedure" and "this is how you can expect things to proceed" — just hearing the expectations that I should have for the school.

The Chair: Was that the last you heard from the school on this issue?

Ms. Virmani: Yes.

The Chair: If you think of any other recommendations later on, please let us know because it is really important for us to hear from people like you, who are suffering. We have heard about Formspring. We have heard about Tumblr, and these are all new things for us. However, we will certainly be looking at what can happen on this. Thank you for sharing that with us.

I have a question for the panel. The committee has done two previous reports. One is called Children: The Silenced Citizens, and the other one is The Sexual Exploitation of Children in Canada. In both these reports we recommended that, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, there be a national children's commissioner. Do you agree that there should be a national children's commissioner? If so, how would that commissioner help with cyberbullying? We will start with you, Mr. Bernstein.

Mr. Bernstein: From the standpoint of UNICEF Canada, we would totally support that recommendation. There is currently a private member's bill before the House of Commons to establish a National Commissioner for Children and Young Persons. That position would be very helpful in terms of dealing with standardizing some of the approaches across the country.

We often see that children are treated differentially. Their rights are not respected in a consistent way from one end of the country to the other. A national children's commissioner could work effectively with provincial and territorial child and youth advocates.

We hear about the proliferation of different pieces of legislation to address bullying behaviour. The difficulty is that these pieces of legislation do not always contain the same elements or the same approaches. If we had a national children's commissioner who could look at what is happening in terms of best practices, conduct evidence-based research from coast to coast and work with the provincial and territorial advocates, we would have less of a fragmented approach. We would have a more consistent national strategy and perhaps an effective campaign across the country, looking at more standardized approaches to combat bullying and cyberbullying. We need a coherent vision.

The other point is that within federal jurisdiction, although we have education and child welfare that falls within provincial jurisdiction, there are other areas that fall within federal jurisdiction. Many issues pertaining to our Aboriginal population fall within federal jurisdiction. Oftentimes it is our Aboriginal children, our children who look different, our children from minority groups and disadvantaged groups that are the subject of cyberbullying.

I think that position perhaps could work more effectively with Aboriginal peoples in terms of understanding some of the special impacts upon our Aboriginal children. For those reasons, having a national children's commissioner to attempt to work on the issues inherent in bullying and cyberbullying would be extremely valuable.

Mr. Hilton: The Canadian Red Cross echoes some of the points Mr. Bernstein just mentioned. More specifically, I think any national commission, any organization, any group idea that has an end result of protecting youth, protecting children and protecting the weakest people is something that the Canadian Red Cross would support. We are an organization that stays as best as possible out of the political sphere and decisions made therein. These are issues that all politicians and legislators across the country can oftentimes come together and find common ground on. If the goal and the results are ultimately that children are better protected, then it is one that we would of course support.

The Chair: My next question is on Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires that all appropriate parties take legislative, administrative, educational and social measures to protect children from all forms of physical and mental violence.

General Comment No. 13 from the Committee on the Rights of the Child confirms that physical and mental violence includes bullying between two or more children and that mental violence includes cyberbullying. In your opinion, Mr. Bernstein, is Canada meeting its obligations under Article 19?

Mr. Bernstein: I think there are attempts to address some of these issues. One of the approaches that we have identified in our submission is the importance of using child rights impact assessments before developing policy and legislation and attempting to look in a structured way as to what would be the best outcomes, how to promote the best interests of children and how to achieve the best outcomes. Sometimes it seems to be a scattergun approach, very reactive to particular events that occur in the media rather than looking at this and applying a perspective that looks at the various rights contained in the convention, the guiding principles of the convention and a structure that is being used in many of our jurisdictions around the world.

We hear from other national committees globally, where UNICEF has offices, that there are other countries using this approach, weighing competing rights and doing literature reviews, being evidence-informed. What we are hearing today encompasses the voice of young people. What do young people think about that proposed policy, about that proposed piece of legislation? We are attempting to develop more consistency in those approaches.

In terms of child protection, we see different ages of the maximum for finding children in need of protection. In some provinces it is 16; in other provinces it is 18; in British Columbia it is 19. There are different child protection grounds and different reporting requirements in different jurisdictions. There is some confusion around whether or not there is a need to report online sexual exploitation as opposed to something happening in a more tangible way.

There is a lot more that could be done in terms of addressing this issue, and it seems as though we have a checkerboard approach. Oftentimes we wait until there are serious episodes. We see teen suicides, self-destructive acts and tragedies. Oftentimes that shapes policy. I think we need to be more reflective and child-centred. We need to look at this whole constellation of rights under the convention. We need to look at Article 19 and General Comment 13. How do all of these pieces fit together? They are all interrelated.

Sometimes, in my experience, having spent much of my career in child protection on the one hand and advancing children's rights on the other, we do not integrate the two. We have a needs-based system in child protection, and then we have child rights advocates. What he we need to see is an encouragement of greater child participation within the child protection system. We need to hear from young people, like this young woman here today, in terms of what is happening and how we can improve the situation.

There is a lot of goodwill and commitment, people trying to do the right thing, but I think we still have some distance to go.

The Chair: Mr. Hilton, did you want to add anything to that?

Mr. Hilton: Just a couple of quick points on that. First, I think everyone can do better. Singling out one level of government, one provincial government and one school, on an issue such as this and saying they are doing well and another is not is not looking at the problem in the way that perhaps we need to. All of us together can do more. All of us together can do a greater job.

Being responsive, as I think was noted here, is not the most successful way to achieve the solutions we are looking for. We need to be more proactive. All governments need to look at what we are trying to protect our youth from. What conditions are they are in? How it is evolving and moving forward? What we can do pre-emptively to start that?

Perhaps this is a good segue to point out one thing Ms. Virmani has not talked about, which is she has turned her incident into a positive and worked with the Canadian Red Cross to promote work groups within her school to make activities that have now moved across the entire province of New Brunswick. Listening to that side also gives you a better understanding of the potential opportunities out there when we shine a spotlight on this problem that needs more sunlight.

The Chair: I was going to ask you this question, and you have started answering it. Today's meeting has generated enough tweets that it has reached almost 400,000 people. You have done a great service today. Earlier on we had 10 young people speak on this.

Mr. Hilton, I never thought the Red Cross gets involved in domestic situations. I know you do when there is an emergency, such as fire or flood. I understand that. That is my ignorance.

How would the Red Cross get involved in an issue like this in a school? If someone is going through some of the challenges that Ms. Virmani has experienced, how would they contact you?

Mr. Hilton: Unfortunately, we still get that often. People are surprised that the Red Cross does this kind of work.

RespectEd, which was started in 1984, has done training and education for 4.4 million Canadians in just under 20 years. We are in several hundred Aboriginal communities across the country. As you said, we respond to an emergency every four hours throughout this country through our disaster management, but that is only one side of our much larger platform.

Ms. Doyon: We have been working in violence and abuse prevention with RespectEd for 28 years. We try to be on the ground and really connect with people. We have offices across the country. We try to reach out to the schools in the areas we are in. The schools come to us and we go to the schools to promote our program as much as possible.

Schools can contact us through our website or their local office. We have the RespectEd program in all the provinces as well as in two territories, I think. We respond when there is a need as well as trying to be proactive.

Senator Robichaud: Last night on Connect with Mark Kelley there was a whole hour on this topic. I am sure you have seen it. How does that help?

Mr. Hilton: I saw only a small part of the program last night.

Perhaps Ms. Virmani can talk about how programs in her school have helped. That may be the best way to show a real-time incident that turned into something positive.

Ms. Virmani: Before I talk about that, I have a list of suggestions that I would like to share.

My first suggestion is to follow up with the bully. A lot of bullies do not know that their acts are an infringement on the law and they do not know what consequences to expect if their bullying is reported. Although I was not aware of what to expect, ideally the victim would be aware of that. The bully also needs to be aware of what to expect if they bully and that it can be an infringement of the law.

My next suggestion is to re-emphasize existing resources. Many times kids are not aware of the community supports and outreach programs that exist. They are often not aware of the rights of the child or of the Criminal Code of Canada. Kids need to be more aware of when actions are infringing on the law and on rights. They need to be made aware of things that are already in place.

I am not sure how much control you have on this, but many third-party companies are promoting bullying behaviour. Those applications on Facebook are getting money to support bullying behaviours. These companies need to be sure that they are following the Human Rights Act and the code and be aware of the impact that they are having on a national scale.

Another suggestion is to have more outreach programs mandated into the education act and having more programs like Beyond the Hurt through the Red Cross, or having UNICEF presentations. We do a lot of outreach with the Red Cross where we meet with children and talk to them. Beyond the Hurt is a youth program run by youth for youth. Students do not always have to approach a teacher or counsellor if bullying is happening; they can talk to another student, and we act as peer mentors. It becomes another resource, and more schools need to have more resources like that.

Another suggestion is supports for workplaces. If parents are not educated on how to change their behaviours, they will teach the same behaviours to their children. Many parents missed out on the education that kids are getting these days. In order to avoid the repercussions of youth engaging in negative behaviours, we need to teach adults appropriate social behaviours. We need more education not only in schools but also in the workplace, because it is a cycle.

As I said before, we should reduce suspensions and encourage community service. We need more emphasis on reflective workshops. Suspensions do not teach children anything. They are a form of discipline, but it is no different than hitting a child. It just reinforces negative behaviours and negative consequences. It is not teaching a child anything.

We need more supports for the bullies themselves. We need to ensure that bullies are aware that these resources exist. We need to ensure that parents know that their children can get support to change their negative behaviours about bullying. They must be made aware that there are guidance counsellors, teachers and community programs to which they can reach out to change that behaviour.

My last major suggestion is early mandated education; teaching kids compassion and social skills. In New Brunswick, sexual education is part of our curriculum. As part of that, measures for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases are taught. If that is being taught in health class, why can measures for the preventive of bullying not be taught? We could teach children at a young age suggested behaviour, typical behaviour, social norms and how to act in society. It is often assumed that children know these things. The thing is this: To assume is to make a you-know-what out of you and me.

Senator Meredith: I enjoyed your presentation and your recommendations. I had not thought about Facebook and other companies benefiting from this. Would you recommend legislation imposing severe penalties on companies that promote cyberbullying? I guess you would be a proponent of that.

Ms. Virmani: As part of the Red Cross, we encourage the protection of children and making a safe environment for them. There is no sense in companies making money from encouraging negative behaviour, and that is something that can be regulated.

Senator Meredith: You said that you applaud the efforts of the government on 273. Where do we draw the line on consequences when someone is cyberbullied and then commits suicide?

The Chair: Senator Zimmer will ask his question and then Mr. Bernstein can answer both of them.

Senator Zimmer: Ms. Virmani, when the bully was in class beside you, were you the only one he was bullying? Most bullies are cowards. Did he bully you in person or was he quiet?

The Chair: Senator Robichaud, please ask your question as well.

Senator Robichaud: Following on Senator Meredith's question, you said that companies are making money from this. Are you talking about Facebook? I am completely ignorant about the web. I do not know very much, only what I hear. Are you saying that those companies are working through the web or through Facebook?

Mr. Hilton: To give a quick example, oftentimes on Facebook, third party apps are add-ons that you have to proactively move through to include them on your Facebook site. This opens up to different forms of advertising, different clicks and different web hits that they will generate money on; very small amounts, but over the hundreds and thousands of hits they create larger money. It is focused on attracting a certain segment of youth, with little regard for how it will be used, or whatnot.

Ms. Virmani: On your question about how it happened, the funny thing is that it was actually done a cellphone in class, sitting beside me. When these Twitter posts happened I found out at home online, but the student had enough courage to with write these posts on his BlackBerry sitting next to me within an arm's distance away. Yes, he had the courage to do it.

Senator Zimmer: What a coward.

Mr. Bernstein: I think there is a distinction between adult perpetrators and youth perpetrators. The emphasis in the case of other children who may be the perpetrators really should be on education, prevention and rehabilitation. What do they need to do? What information do they need to have to correct their behaviours? If we start piling on criminal sanctions — if we start expelling these children — they will not get the information. They will just become more frustrated, more angry, no better informed, and likely to repeat those acts on more unsuspecting children.

The concern from UNICEF is those children who are the perpetrators. For adults who are malicious — punitive — I think that some level of sanction as a last resort is a reasonable approach. However, we are very concerned about young people getting caught in the crossfire.

The Chair: I want to thank the panelists for their presentations today. As you can see, you have got us thinking about a lot of things. We have learned a lot from all four of you. We certainly hope that if you think of any other suggestions you will be in touch with us.

Ms. Virmani, the next person who comes on is an ombudsman from your province. It is obvious you have not had a resolution to your situation and after hearing him there might be one.

Mr. Hilton: Ms. Virmani has a bullying prevention bracelet for each of you.

Ms. Virmani: I have bracelets for all the senators for inviting me to come all the way from New Brunswick and speak on behalf of my province and youth in general. The bracelet I am wearing is a design that is happening in our school, locally. Again, it is one of the ways, through the Red Cross, that we are promoting anti-bullying movements. It says "labels are for soup cans." It is based on and ad and T-shirt campaign I created that is being used throughout Atlantic Canada.

In addition to the T-shirt campaign, our bracelet version says that labels are for soup cans. The reason it is pink and blue is because of the anti-bullying colours. Each bracelet is tie-dye and they are all unique. No bracelet is the same. The reason we have done it in the tie-dye is it is similar to bullying; students get bullied because they are different. We are trying to send the message that all students are the same. In the end, all the bracelets have the same message and purpose of being a bracelet, but are all different, beautiful and unique in their own way.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

I would like to welcome the final witness for this evening. Joining us is Mr. Christian Whalen from the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates.

I understand you have some remarks for us. Thank you very much for coming. This is an important part of our study that you are here for.

Christian Whalen, Acting Child and Youth Advocate, Office of the Ombudsman of New Brunswick, Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates: I wish I had allowed more of my time for the exchange that I came in on the end of. I made note of Ms. Virmani's recommendations and am looking forward to following up with her in Fredericton. I had much of the same kind of feedback a few weeks ago when I presented to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Positive Learning and Working Environments in New Brunswick. Ms. Virmani had been there just before me and everyone was talking about it. There was really quite a buzz.

[Translation]

Honourable senators, thank you for inviting me to your hearings on this important issue. My name is Christian Whalen. Since April 1, 2011, I am the Acting Child and Youth Advocate in New Brunswick. In 2008 and 2009, in my capacity as the legal advisor for our ombudsman, I had the opportunity to chair the joint working group, which was comprised of various child and youth advocates and privacy commissioners in Canada, and we were actually studying how to protect the privacy of children in the Internet age.

My brief presentation for today's meeting gave me the opportunity to revisit this subject, and for that I am grateful to you. I have left a copy of the 2009 report of the working group with the clerk of the committee.

[English]

As I scanned the transcripts of the committee's hearings since December, I was heartened to note the vast experience and expertise that witnesses have shared with the committee. My expertise is not as great. However, I can offer the perspective of a child and youth advocate and statutory officer who is a human rights and children's rights generalist.

As senators will see from a quick glance at my brief, my main submissions are directed at how the committee's work could help address some of the underlying conditions which have allowed bullying and cyberbullying to proliferate. I do not speak on behalf of the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates, but I am pleased to share news of these proceedings with my colleagues on council.

[Translation]

I will limit my remarks this evening to three key messages which summarize the recommendations contained in my submission. The first is this: to the extent that cyberbullying is the symptom of a bigger problem pointing to the breakdown of harmonious and responsible relationships between people, as Mr. Wayne MacKay pointed out in his February report, we must figure out how to treat the underlying problem and not only the symptom.

Second, creating a general culture around children's rights is not an easy thing to do, but it is probably the best way to respond to the breakdown of harmonious and responsible relationships which others have described. To achieve this, we need powerful institutional leadership, which unfortunately is still lacking in Canada today. It will also take the sustained action of all key actors in the public sector and in civil society.

Just as the chair pointed out the interest people have for this afternoon's proceedings, it seems that the participation of young Canadian citizens in matters surrounding this file is mobilizing these actors. So we have to take advantage of that.

Third, I will very briefly address the fact that, while cyberbullying is without a doubt one of the worst problems facing young people today, an in-depth analysis of the situation, based on an approach centered on the rights of children, inevitably leads us to other issues, which in turn might lead us to ask whether our basic laws rightly recognize the rights of children.

[English]

The first point I wanted to stress was made by Wayne MacKay, in his task force aptly titled Respectful and Responsible Relationships: There's No App for That. In our brief, I urge senators to ask about the root causes of this supposed breakdown in respectful and responsible relationships. Of course, there are many contributing factors. Mackay lists some of them: monster homes, no-touch policies in schools, too much screen time and a drive-through culture. I was also interested to note the committee's exchanges, in earlier proceedings, with the Media Awareness Network, about websites to which young people flock and the ways in which misogynist or other anti-social messages or subtexts may be influencing young people. Here again, the linkages with Article 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child are obvious. Article 17, senators will note, indicates that States Parties shall: "ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources" — that much is achieved — "especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall: encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child, in accordance with the spirit of article 29," which outlines the aims of education, "and encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of children from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of article 13 and 18."

What are these guidelines in Canada as they apply to cyberspace? How is Club Penguin fairing in accordance with Article 17 of the convention? What about newgrounds.com, the site to which Ms. Wing, from the Media Awareness Network, referred the committee in her earlier testimony as one of the most popular sites in Canada for kids in grades 4 to 9. Ms. Virmani spoke just now about Bathroom Stall application on Facebook. How do all of these online services comply or not with Article 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child? Again, if the committee considered how much screen time Canadian children had, this could be analyzed as an indication of their enjoyment or exercise of their rights under Article 17. However, one would have to question how it is impacting a child's right to play and rest, their physical activity levels or, in the words of the convention, their "social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health." I have been seeking to get a handle on screen time usage in New Brunswick for the last couple of years.

In November of 2011, our office, jointly with the New Brunswick Health Council, published its Play Matters! report, and I have a copy of that for the committee as well. It is our approach to a framework on the implementation of the Rights of the Child in New Brunswick. How do we prove due diligence? How are we keeping our promises to children? That is the challenge that this committee has put out to Canadians and a challenge that we have sought to take up in our province with method.

We took the 40 some articles and guarantees in Convention on the Rights of the Child, analyzed them and grouped them into nine broad category areas, one of which — question 2 — looks at how well children and youth are expressing themselves in New Brunswick and all the rights related to expressive rights. For those we identified, through our data sets, about 33 different indicators of rights and well-being implementation, two of which deal with screen time usage.

Questions 13 and 14 come from our school wellness surveys. There is a question there and data reported with respect to a child who has two hours or less of screen time most days, at the grades 4 and 5 level, and another indicator for grades 6 to 12 youth who spend two hours or less in sedentary activities. These are described as watching TV, movies and video games, and having computer time et cetera.

The difficulty is that this is self-reported data. It is reported as two hours or less, which is not helpful in measuring how many youth are consuming many more hours of screen time per day.

Next year, we will be able to break this down further and provide a clearer picture in New Brunswick, but the data, as far as I have been able to ascertain, is not available. There is no comparably data for that kind of indicator data nationally. It is an example of the challenge in doing due diligence in whether or not we are respecting children's rights. You want to try to measure it, but then you get embroiled with identifying the right indicator, measuring it and figuring out how we have reliable, comparable data. We are pleased that, with the help of the Health Council, we have been able to provide this report as a first template. We are looking forward to updating it next fall, and we are hopeful that other child and youth advocates and health agencies — the Public Health Agency of Canada, perhaps — can play a part in supporting that kind of measurement process.

Essentially, there are many contributing factors of this noted breakdown in respectful, responsible relationships. No one has said that this is a problem related to youth, and we might question also how to nurture that culture of tolerance and respect among adults in families and workplaces. We can look at the ties with respect to workplace harassment policies and legislation in different employment standards, which are now starting to develop, that prohibit these kinds of bullying behaviours in the workplace, another human rights issue for the committee to consider.

If we want to address this issue of the breakdown of respectful, responsible relationships in relation to children, we must also consider the early stages of child development and the ways that we can equip infants and pre-kindergarten children with the supports they need to become caring and nurturing children and adults. The experience, in our office, of working with youth with complex needs suggests to me that we have to do more, as a society, to support parents in their parental role, at the very early stages of life. These types of investments will pay large dividends in the long run. I would urge the committee, in drafting its report and recommendations, to consider, at every step, whether each recommendation is directed at a symptom or a root cause. This type of causal analysis is what methodic child rights-based analysis is all about.

My second point in terms of how we build this culture of rights respecting children's rights is that it will be require an awful lot of leadership. It will require partnerships at all levels of society and constant effort. Again, to affirm the old adage, the best defence to bullying is a strong offence, an offence of tolerance, respect, caring and diversity. That is what we have been trying to do, in partnership with many partners in New Brunswick, over the last year. We have established a secretariat and a working group on children's rights in the francophone cultural space, jointly through the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie and its member networks. We have also developed a provincial youth engagement framework, developed with Youth Matters, a provincial youth advocacy network. We have created a children's rights and well-being framework, jointly with our Health Council and many provincial child-serving ministries and departments. This Play Matters! report also sets out a provincial roadmap for the progressive implementation of article 31 of the convention, calling inter alia for a provincial children's plan to coordinate the implementation of children's rights, in accordance with Canada's National Plan of Action, and an annual publication of a children's budget, tracking any increase or reduction in expenditures affecting public services to children, their rights or well-being. Initial training on children's rights was offered to all child and youth advocate staff and representative staff from youth-serving departments and agencies presented by UNICEF Canada. That was a huge piece. We just went through that process. I am thinking that is the kind of training that would be of benefit even to parliamentarians. Part of the challenge, just listening and following the conversation and the transcripts of proceedings, is that we are all trying to raise our game. We are all concerned with this issue. We see the potential of a culture of rights respecting a culture of tolerance as embodied in international human rights instruments and in our Charter. We want to achieve, we want to implement and make those values real, but we do not have the language.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been in existence for 20 years, the most universally ratified human rights instrument in the world, yet it has not really percolated and impacted our universities, our curriculum. Our social workers graduate from social work schools, our educators come out of faculties of education, lawyers graduate from law faculties without any notion of children's rights. There is a huge bit of work that must be done at that level.

We organized, in the beginning of May, a provincial sharing dialogue around this document. We had a good cross-section of policy-makers in various government departments, academics and community organizations, 60 to 70 people from across the province to focus their work on children's rights and how we can do a better job of implementing children's rights in New Brunswick. What we found is that we did not have a common language. We were not really able to approach that task.

We have to start with very basic steps. We have been trying to support that as well, through outreach to professional organizations. Certainly, our office has always had a very strong tie and working relationship with the New Brunswick Association of Social Workers. We are almost unknown as a child and youth advocate's office to members of the practising bar. The New Brunswick Teachers' Federation has very little interface with us; Allied Health Professionals the same. We are trying to establish that.

I do not think the situation would necessarily be very different in many other parts of Canada. Unfortunately, the reality in Canada is that our experience of child and youth advocacy really comes out of a North American experience of having a champion in the corner for very vulnerable youth. Youth in care and youth in custody need an advocate, but in many provinces of Canada there is no advocate for children generally. When the committee put the invitation out to the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates, we were seized of this matter May 9 and 10 at our meeting in Vancouver. There were not many takers. Much as everyone was preoccupied with the situation of cyberbullying and how it impacts youth in care and youth and children in their jurisdictions, it basically fell to me to come. Like I said, I am here speaking from our experience in New Brunswick and not speaking on behalf of council. We do not have generally in Canada a national body, and even at the provincial level we do not have provincial legislative authorities for the main part responsible for implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In New Brunswick, in Newfoundland, in jurisdictions where there is a more recent legislative model, that is the pattern that we have adopted, but we are still learning. When we go to find and recruit staff and experts, we are looking to social workers with 20 or 30 years of experience; we are looking to educators and lawyers, but we are not finding people with all the skill sets in terms of children's rights. There is much to be done.

To that end, we have, jointly with the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates and this working group on children's rights in the Francophonie, established at the University of Moncton this summer a summer institute on children's rights. It will be the first of an annual series of courses, a 10-day course on children's rights, this year with a thematic focus on Article 31, on the child's right to play, rest, leisure, recreation, arts and culture.

We have also recently this year had UNICEF back down to New Brunswick to do some training with our staff and other educators to roll out and implement this rights-respecting school model. I know senators have heard about rights-respecting schools from a number of witnesses. We see it as having huge potential. When I presented the model to the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation, they were early adopters all around the room, looking for that kind of an answer, a program that is holistic, that looks at working with the strengths of the local community school, and building upon those strengths to mobilize students, teachers and parents in reinforcing a culture of children's rights and human rights and building towards global citizenship.

We know that the rights-respecting school has had great success in Great Britain. Mr. Bernstein was talking about 2,500 schools now throughout the U.K. Interestingly enough, they borrowed the idea from Canada. It was Katherine Covell at the University of Cape Breton who developed that model. It has been a huge success, particularly in addressing bullying behaviour in U.K. schools. We know that we can do the same in New Brunswick, so we are really motivated and mobilized to have more rights-respecting schools. There are not any currently in Atlantic Canada. Come September, there will be at least one in Fredericton and we are hoping many more in the months to follow.

The Chair: I will ask you to sum up what you are saying because we have many questions of you.

Mr. Whalen: To sum up, I will say again that all these concerns are central to our times. They underscore the need today for stronger constitutional and legal guarantees protecting privacy and children's rights generally. Institutional protections and measures through establishment of a national children's commissioner's office, ratification of communications procedure under the third protocol to the convention, adoption of children's rights impact assessment processes — these I hope will all be matters that the committee will consider in its report and recommendations to Parliament by way of response.

There is also in our brief recommendations with respect to the role of child and youth advocate offices and how maybe a process could be devised as to how those offices could work better jointly with the national children's commissioner toward building a culture of children's rights.

More broadly and fundamentally, I hope I will have at least piqued your curiosity, if you read the brief, in considering that a dedicated focus on child-first policy-making is an idea worth further study.

The Chair: Thank you very much. You have done a very detailed brief, which we certainly will be reading, and looking at the nine recommendations that you have made.

Earlier on I asked Mr. Bernstein from UNICEF this question, and I ask you: Do you see that the time has come when Canada should have a national children's commissioner?

Mr. Whalen: I think the time has long passed. I think this scourge of bullying and cyberbullying really points out the need for a strong champion at the federal level who can mobilize the live forces of Canadian youth that you heard from here today in addressing that problem.

Senator Ataullahjan: On my way here I was looking at a study that I heard about today and I was astounded. I want to share some figures with you.

This was a study of about 367 students and they found that the average time they spent is about 2.78 hours a day; the highest amount was 8 hours. Talking to a student from Alberta earlier on, that the average student gets about 189 text messages a day, she said that was about right, and the highest is 3,000.

The average child has over two email accounts, but some have as many as 25 email accounts. Cyberbullying is something I follow, and I am just astounded by all this.

Canada is a diverse country, and it is often difficult to implement one technique or program in every school in the country. Do you find that there are commonalities in anti-bullying or anti-cyberbullying programs among provinces? Are there any best practices that you could share with the committee? I am thinking of the peer intervention technique in particular, which has had great success in countries like Norway.

Mr. Whalen: Absolutely, and the testimony that you had this afternoon from Ms. Virmani reinforces that "labels are for soup cans" campaign she was referring to. It has gone gangbusters. If you tap into the creativity of Canadian youth and put the challenge out to them, they will find much better and inventive ways of connecting with peers, opening up the conversations and challenging behaviours that are unwanted.

I can think of another initiative by high school youth in New Brunswick on another topic, but one that speaks to the global citizenship that Canadian youth involvement in social media is awakening. There are a couple of high school students at FHS and Leo Hayes in Fredericton this year that have established Graduates without Borders, along the lines of Doctors without Borders, but they are now fundraising through their graduation activities for overseas development assistance.

When one looks at the issue of bullying and cyberbullying, in particular, in Canada, what is telling is this is an issue that Canadian youth themselves have identified and brought to the fore through the pink shirt campaigns and in so many other ways. Canadian youth are driving this agenda. I think that is something they have to be commended for, and we have to, as adult allies, work with them toward solutions that they may devise.

Senator Ataullahjan: How do we teach the youth responsible digital citizenship? They know, yet we are seeing that cyberbullying is increasing.

Mr. Whalen: In the statistics that you referred to just a minute ago, one of the most troubling points is seeing excessive use of social media or online technologies. If children have over 10 email accounts and are accessing thousands of individual communications per day, and if they are spending hours, most of their waking day, in online activities, then, clearly, that speaks to a challenge in terms of parental monitoring. When do parents have to step in? Is the challenge more around how we educate youth, or as Ms. Virmani was saying this afternoon, how we educate parents about their role in monitoring those activities? That is one factor.

Senator Meredith: Thank you for your presentation. Ms. Virmani talked about Facebook and companies benefiting from the promotion of cyberbullying. I hope you were in the room for that comment.

Mr. Whalen: Yes.

Senator Meredith: In your final recommendation to us, you said that this committee should look at the need for regulation of children's online play space, avoid inappropriate behavioural marketing, data mining or other forms of commercial exploitation of children online.

Can you dig into that a little more for me? That is where I think we have opportunities to be able to bring about particular legislation to target that. We have other legislation that is on the books now to deal with release of information when it comes to an investigation and from the IP providers and so on. I think we have something there that has been brought to our attention as a committee, something that we may want to look into further.

Mr. Whalen: I am glad to have that question. I was thinking the same thing when Ms. Virmani made the comments. I am not specifically aware of the third party applications that she was mentioning. That is one aspect of the commercial exploitation of children online, and I think she addressed that point, as did Mr. Hilton.

Beyond that, so much of children's online play spaces have been completely unregulated. We can think for a moment about the kind of environments we are providing and reference article 17 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, look at the standard; look at article 29, the aims of education; and look at Article 17 with respect to the role of the mass media, and then ask them the questions. Are they doing a fair job? Is a federal legislated response the right one? Possibly. What about industry self-regulation in this respect?

Neopets, Club Penguin, Webkinz and many of those "children's" websites are an opportunity for data mining. Kids go online. They are doing these fun play activities, but in order to get points, they answer questions. You can drill down into some of those websites and look at some of the questions that children as young as four, five, six or ten are answering. They are asked what kind of brand preferences they may have for cigars. It is a lot of data mining for consumer consumption habits in North American households. That is what drives the business model for those online play environments.

Other kinds of online play environments that are questionable are situations. I know that barbie.com has evolved and made some changes, and Valerie Lawson is a local Canadian expert with respect to how large corporations may groom young children as clients, and how they may play on a child's impressionability. The child may be invited into a relationship of friendship with this online commercial product. Is that appropriate? Those are important questions, and they would certainly be an interesting area for further study by this committee.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: I would like to go back to the question put by Honourable Senator Meredith. In your last recommendation, you say the following:

[English]

Finally it is suggested that the committee also consider at an early opportunity the need for regulation . . .

[Translation]

Do you have any suggestions? Have you considered how this could be done?

Mr. Whalen: The 2009 report produced by the Privacy Commissioner and Child and Youth Advocate Task Force was the start of the thinking process on this matter. One of the models that drew our attention at that time was in fact the Quebec example. This province had, for a long time, consumer protection legislation that bans advertising directed at children. The Quebec legislation came into force back in the 1970s. It was not specifically drafted to consider cyberspace or the Internet. However, it is interesting to see how this legislation has been applied and we are starting to see these principles being extended to advertising campaigns of large North American corporations that are on the Internet.

Rather than testing the Quebec regulator's position through the courts, Nestlé, McDonald's and these large corporations have preferred to comply. So I do think that there are ways that will enable us to have an influence on harmful practices.

At the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, in New Brunswick, we often receive public complaints in the Acadian communities. We hear people wondering why they saw television advertisements aimed at children. They do not think that this should happen. We have to then correct their misconceptions and explain that this is a Quebec standard that comes under Quebec legislation. When you watch Radio-Canada, you become accustomed to certain practices. How could we expand this principle?

And in the famous Irwin Toys case, which went before the Supreme Court of Canada, the Quebec legislation was challenged. The Supreme Court defended this so-called violation of a corporation's commercial freedom of expression precisely on the grounds that the child is vulnerable. Children under the age of 13 are very easily persuaded by marketing and therefore the child must be protected.

More recently, the Europeans developed guidelines on behavioural marketing aimed at children. If the Europeans can do this, I think that there is certainly a way that we should also be able to do this in Canada. The difficulty in this debate pertains to the fact that we are often dealing with a North American reality. American Internet regulatory standards are very different from European and Canadian standards.

Senator Robichaud: When we consider Facebook, Twitter and other media, in order to identify whether children are exposed to advertising, you first of all have to find out whether the children are able to go on these networks, right? And this is not an easy thing to do because young people, from what we hear, and even the very young, have the communication means to access these services.

Mr. Whalen: Although the fact is they often have to lie to have access to the service. According to Facebook policy, you have to be 13 years of age in order to have an account. Senators probably all know one or two children under the age of 13 who have a Facebook account. That is another issue of debate.

In the report, I in fact refer to the work done by John Lawford, at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, which in their report entitled All in the Data Family put forward some very interesting proposals for better legislation and monitoring of pre-adolescent activity in the social media. The American approach is typically to say that the youth can have an account providing he or she has parental consent. The problem with this approach is: how do you really ensure that the legislation is being respected? Very often, the legislation is respected more through violations than it is through compliance. That is why the PIAC recommended more regulatory approaches.

How do we ensure compliance with the standard? Once again, this is quite a challenge. However, if we set the standard, we could find ways to make the industry accountable.

Senator Robichaud: And the parents as well.

Mr. Whalen: Of course.

Senator Robichaud: We on this side have a tremendous amount of work to do. People do not understand all the information that is out there and how easy it is to have access to it.

Mr. Whalen: That is why I am suggesting that this could be the subject of another study. The question is a broad one, there are pros and cons. The senators certainly heard the testimony given by the Media Awareness Network about the advantages of digital literacy and how we can use social media in the classroom.

Canadian youth also have expectations. We have to move with the times, but I think that we have to be prudent and responsible.

[English]

Senator Ataullahjan: If I have taken anything from today's witnesses and experts, it is the involvement of parents. We seem to be hearing that consistently. Why is it that the parents are not realizing the effects of social media? Are they not using it themselves? What is it? Why is there a disconnect between parents and children?

Senator Meredith: That was actually along the same lines in terms of, again, I believe in parents being engaged in their children's lives so that they know what their children are viewing, and vice versa; that their children are able to come to them and talk to them about being cyberbullied. We heard today about the fact that many kids are detached from their parents. They are going through a crisis in their lives, and the parents are not at all there for them.

What is the education piece? What else do we have to do in order to engage these parents more in the lives of these youth who are being traumatized on the Net, and also physically bullied?

Mr. Whalen: There again, I think the best opportunity forward is really to engage parents in those conversations through the schools.

Senator Meredith: Some of them are not even showing up at school, Mr. Whalen. They are not even coming for the PTA meetings and IPRCs. They are not showing up for the fact that their children are not even learning properly in the schools.

Mr. Whalen: Right. I think there is a role for school authorities to engage and require attendance at times. It is hard to imagine the case, but certainly in the case of cyberbullying.

Senator Meredith: Should we legislate that?

Mr. Whalen: I am not in favour of legislative responses across the board. I know that the senators have heard from most witnesses with respect to the need to emphasize educational approaches. Obviously, the questions are difficult ones. They call forward a kind of broader social change.

Again, I will go back to the quote that I lifted from Wayne MacKay's report that talks about monster homes and drive-through culture. That is the reality we are confronting, and I think it is a huge issue for senators to try to determine what the answer is.

My mother grew up in a house where she shared a bed with two of her sisters. I grew up in a house where I shared a bedroom with my brother. In our house, all four kids had their own bedroom, and that was progress.

Are children more isolated? How do we re-engage in those conversations at home or in a school setting? In terms of what public regulators and legislators can do, the task is probably to work through public institutions. We do see great testimonies and success coming from the U.K. with respect to what they have seen in terms of a culture change, with 2,500 Rights Respecting Schools through the country, and so we are putting a lot of our efforts in that direction.

Another program that was launched by an educator in Fredericton last year, at his school, has expanded now to four different schools. We are hoping to roll out to many other schools in the province this Young Leaders Program. However, Young Leaders is based on the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Programme, which is a leadership development program for adolescents. What these early-years educators were saying is that leadership starts very young, and they have lots of K-5 leaders in their primary schools. They were saying we can celebrate those kinds of successes in the school community, and whether it is a success in the classroom or a success outside of the classroom, validating it and celebrating it in the school community is nurturing the kind of caring community, leadership and global citizenship that schools should be developing.

Therefore, through that program they look at developing leadership skills, community development skills, physical activity, school involvement, and there is a fifth plank of the program that I am forgetting now. However, it is amazing what these young K to 5 kids can do when you put the challenge out to them. That is about developing sound, respectful, tolerant behaviours and rewarding them. I think it is the best kind of anti-bullying policy you can have.

The Chair: Thank you very much. I appreciate you took on the challenge to meet with us. As you can see, we need people like you to make presentations to us so that we get a better understanding. We could not have timed this better to have Ms. Virmani and you here at the same time, so that was fortuitous. We want to thank you for your presentation today and certainly for the paper that you have prepared, which we will be referring to many times.

Mr. Whalen: Thank you, Madam Chair.

The Chair: Senators, there is a motion in front of you that has been in front of you before. As you remember, we were to have minor in camera witnesses, and there were issues about ensuring those witnesses have proper protection. We have put that in place. You have two motions in front of you. One is to allow recording and transcription of an in camera meeting with minors. This transcript will stay with the clerk and anybody can go refer to it. Can I have a mover?

Senator Robichaud: No, I have a question, Madam Chair.

The Chair: But before that, can I get somebody to move this?

Senator Robichaud: I am not a regular member, so I cannot.

Senator Meredith: I will so move.

The Chair: Go ahead, Senator Robichaud.

[Translation]

Senator Robichaud: The last part of the motion in French is not complete. It should read as follows:

That the documents be destroyed by the clerk once the Subcommittee on Agenda and Procedure has authorized this destruction.

The Chair: Thank you very much.

[English]

Is there anything else or any other discussion? All those in favour?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Any against? No? Thank you.

The second motion is to exclude staff for this in camera meeting with minors. Senator Ataullahjan moves it. Is there any discussion? No? All those in favour? Okay.

Thank you very much. It has been a very long day. I appreciate all the support that you have given.

(The committee adjourned.)