Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 15 - Evidence (evening meeting)
OTTAWA, Monday, June 11, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 6:30 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.
The Chair: Senators, we are reconvening for the last part of our
study and the last meeting on cyberbullying. I am pleased to say that this
meeting is the cherry on the cake as two exceptional people will testify
this evening. They both kindly agreed to come back. They are among the
busiest people in the world, but this shows their commitment to the issue.
I start by welcoming Mr. Patchin, from the United States. He is a
director at the Cyberbullying Research Center and has written numerous
articles on adolescent behaviour online. Mr. Patchin has co-authored a book
called Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to
Cyberbullying and has written about cyberbullying prevention and
response. Certainly, he is very well known in Canada. I could go on and on
about him but we are here to listen to him. Our next presenter is Mr. Wayne
MacKay, who is also well known to all of us. Nova Scotia's Minister of
Education appointed him Chair of the Task Force on Bullying and
Cyberbullying and to write a report. In his report, Mr. MacKay said that
bullying is a major social issue throughout the world and is one of the
symptoms of deeper problems in our society: the deterioration of respectful
and responsible human relations. He also said that the magnitude of the
problem is daunting and there are no simple solutions on the horizon.
Therefore, we need effective strategies.
We need help from both witnesses to determine those effective strategies.
As both of you are aware, we have heard from young people who said that
punishment is not the answer. What are the effective strategies?
Mr. Patchin will not make a presentation but will answer questions from
senators. Is that correct?
Justin W. Patchin, Co-director, Cyberbullying Research Center,
University of Wisconsin-Eau Clair: That sounds good. Again, I am happy
to answer any questions.
The Chair: Thank you. We will begin with Mr. MacKay.
A. Wayne MacKay, Professor and Associate Dean of Research, Schulich
School of Law, Dalhousie University: Thank you very much for having me
back and for your interest in this important topic. I am sure you will make
I realize that you have had a very long day so I will do my absolute best
to keep the presentation part short and make myself available to questions.
I know you are down to thinking about what will be in your report, so you
probably have specific questions about that. I will try to keep it brief.
There are four bits of information that you have in digital form. One is
from the previous time and is the actual report on respectful and
responsible relationships, which the chair has. There are three other pieces
that I have provided digitally through Mr. Charbonneau for today: a brief
PowerPoint presentation that I put together on some of the legal aspects; a
review of legislation in Canada as well as in the provinces of what they are
doing on issues of bullying and cyberbullying; and an appendix to a report
by a colleague and me on the legal dimensions of bullying and cyberbullying.
I will try to summarize them, but they are available if you find them of
some use for your report.
In the very short time that we have, I will make a few key points and
then open it up to questions. The first point, which I know has already been
clearly established, is that this is a very significant world problem that
needs attention. It is significant in its scope that cyberbullying and
technology have changed bullying, or added to bullying, and made its impact
much more pervasive. That is an obvious point that I am sure you have heard
a lot about.
The critical points, as raised by the chair, are these: What are the
responses? What do we do about that? Who should do things about that? One of
the things I talk about in the PowerPoint is the need to have responses at
many different levels, including the community, parents, both levels of
government, private organizations, police, and so on. There is an important
federal role that we can talk about as well, including possibly a kind of
federal national strategy. Perhaps this Senate committee could play a role
in that; it deserves a particular comment.
Another theme that we can come back to in the questions is the role of
each of the three major components: education, prevention and law. What is
the role of law? What is the role of education? What is the role of
preventive interventions? That is a large question. In particular, the
appendix I referred to talks about the possible role of law. Even though I
teach law as a job, law is only one of the responses, although an important
one, and must be in conjunction with prevention and with education and
changing values and attitudes. The law can be an important part of that.
In particular, and we will come back to this in questions, there is the
role of things like restorative approaches and whether on the federal side
there should be a separate crime of cyberbullying or a similar thing, or do
existing Criminal Code provisions go far enough? How would you put that
together with restorative approaches?
One other quick initial point is human rights codes. If we have time
through questions, I would like to talk about to what extent human rights
commissions, certainly provincial but maybe federal, play a role in
responding. That is a more user-friendly and more diverse way of responding
because there do not have to be court cases but mediation instead. There are
now restorative approaches in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and so
on. What is the role of federal and provincial jurisdictions? Australia has
adopted such an approach, so many of the responses there have been handled
through human rights commissions.
It is important obviously to talk about issues of accountability. I
certainly heard a lot on the task force not only about the magnitude of the
problem and how serious it is but also that parents and students were
frustrated because everybody seemed to be kind of passing the buck — it is
not for the schools because it is after school hours and it is not their
jurisdiction; it is not for parents because they do not know enough; and it
is not for the police because they do not have the tools. They come away
frustrated, knowing that something serious is happening but not knowing
where to turn.
Those are just a few major themes and I am happy to answer any questions.
I tried to keep it brief.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I will start off the questioning.
There are many questions here today, but one is the passing of the buck.
We met with young people today. One of the things that they kept saying was
that when they went to the principal, the principal said that was outside of
his or her jurisdiction. They did not get support from the school.
To both of you, one of the things that we are struggling with is where
the school ends and where its jurisdiction ends and the outside world
begins. If the school says they cannot help the people who go to the school
and the police are not getting involved, where does that child turn?
Mr. MacKay: That is certainly a topic we looked at in some detail
in the report. It is in both the appendix in more detail and in Chapter 4 of
the report, and I think it is recommendation 31.
We make the point that both in the existing case law and in a number of
statutes — a number of the American ones, and I will be interested in Dr.
Patchin's comments on that, but also some Canadians ones like Ontario — they
have now said that school jurisdiction extends beyond school premises and
after school hours. Sometimes that is actually in the legislation. It is in
the Ontario legislation and has also been the interpretation of cases,
although there has not been a Supreme Court of Canada case on that directly
There obviously must be a connection to schools, and that connection is
usually formulated in terms of a detrimental effect on the school climate.
If you have two students engaging in bullying or cyberbullying but it is off
school premises or after school hours, very often we heard that schools say
we are sorry, we cannot do anything. It was at that time or at a bus stop or
at home, so we cannot touch it. I do not think that is true, even now,
whether or not there is legislation.
However, since a lot of school boards and schools take that position, as
a matter of clarity we recommend that there be an addition to the provincial
education acts making it clear that where there is a detrimental effect on
the school climate that the jurisdiction extends beyond school boundaries
and after school hours.
Mr. Patchin: I would agree completely with Professor MacKay. We
are grappling with similar issues here in the United States. However, it is
pretty clear. I have spent a lot of time analyzing the case law and state
law. The boundary or line is whatever happens away from school, whether it
is cyberbullying or a fight or whatever, to the extent that that behaviour
or speech substantially disrupts the learning environment at school or
infringes on the rights of other students, it is subject to school
discipline. That is pretty clear. The question is at what point does it
become a substantial disruption and interfere with the rights of other
According to Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, a U.S. Supreme Court
case, one of those rights is that students have the right to be left alone,
to feel safe and secure at school. If a classmate and I are sharing a
classroom and he or she is cyberbullying me at night and I do not feel safe
going to school or I am intimidated, then clearly there is that link.
I agree that it would be helpful if there was legislation that clearly
spelled it out. Here in the U.S. there are 49 states that have bullying
laws. However, very few of them, a handful, include specific language in
those laws that direct schools — or at least authorize them explicitly — to
get involved in those behaviours that occur off school grounds, even though
that is the law of the land based on the Supreme Court here in the United
States, federal court cases and individual state law. That is the law, but
to give the educators very specific information that they can respond is
important because there is so much misinformation. Many principals and
teachers say if it does not happen here, I do not need to deal with it. That
is definitely an issue of concern, and I think it makes sense to provide
that language in legislation.
The Chair: This is sort of our last hearing before we work on the
report. We are looking at things that we need to add or need to hear so that
our report is full. One of the things that Senator White has often raised is
the issue of restorative justice. There are many people listening, so before
you answer I would ask that you explain what restorative justice is.
My question is quite long. I will put it to you and maybe you can both
answer it. Several witnesses have emphasized the importance of taking a
restorative approach to dealing with cases of cyberbullying and bullying.
Even the children and young people who have come before us have said
punitive is not the answer. They do not say it that way, but restorative is
what I think they imply.
Similarly, some have stated that zero-tolerance approaches in school are
not effective with children and youth, and they have added that criminal law
enforcement should be used only in the most extreme cases.
Other witnesses have recommended that the federal government amend the
Criminal Code in order that it may more clearly set out an offence of
cyberbullying and to show that this is an offence worthy of criminal
sanction. As it would be in a study, you can see there are many different
points of view.
Is an emphasis on restorative justice compatible with the exercise of
amending the Criminal Code? If it is possible to prioritize restorative
approaches while amending the Criminal Code and reforming criminal law
policy regarding cyberbullying, how should this reform proceed?
It is a long question, but these are things that we are struggling with
at the end of our study.
Mr. MacKay: It is a really important question, and I guess I will
start with your last question first. I think you can, and should, put the
two together. There are extreme cases that need to be dealt with using the
criminal sanction. Either by interpreting existing provisions — and there
are a number of them to apply to cyberbullying — or possibly adding new
provisions on a crime of cyberbullying or some such phraseology. I think
that is important, but for the extreme cases.
I will attempt a general definition of restorative approaches. It is one
of these things that it is an old idea that has become new again. In many
ways, one of the early forms was Aboriginal ways of decision making, which
is reintegrating the offender into the community. Although it is not
absolutely essential to restorative justice, it is often done in sentencing
circles kinds of structures. The main idea is to have the alleged bully, the
offender, be required to account not only to the victim but also to his or
her community in a way that makes him or her understand the magnitude of
what they have done, and ultimately to reintegrate that person back into the
There are probably schools in many places, some in Nova Scotia, that have
been doing that in a very effective way. One of the reasons it is working
quite well is that it is by and large a peer structure. It is mostly young
people themselves — very impressive young people — who have these
restorative structures and circles, and they head them. They have supports
elsewhere, but it is handled by the young people themselves and they have
had very large success. In fact, in schools at the elementary, junior and
senior high levels where they have had restorative approaches in schools
trying to deal with the less severe cases in this way, the number of
infractions has reduced. The suspensions have reduced and the change is
In the United Kingdom they have used it in cities like Hull to great
effect. As I am sure you know, no one thing is a panacea, but a restorative
approach is one of the most hopeful ways to respond because it has the
critical elements. It tries to deal with preventing; it is not just after
the fact. It is largely engaging young people as key players because that is
peer influence, and aimed at reintegrating. I think it is really important,
and there are a number of recommendations in my report that suggest it is
one of the most hopeful ways to go and one of best preventive interventions.
It changes the climate of the school, not only in relation to discipline.
One other important point is that where it is most effective, they adopt
restorative approaches not just on discipline but how the school operates. I
attended some elementary schools where the whole structure was very
democratic and participatory. If they are deciding on an essay topic, they
sit in a circle, and everyone gets to discuss and debate what the topic
should be and why it should be that. That is the way the school operates.
What is interesting is that teachers and administrators, as well as the
students, bought into it. There was not as much resistance as you might
think to changing things around. It is not a panacea, but it is a really
important thing to do.
Senator Meredith: Professor MacKay, thank you very much for that.
Let me just throw this in here. We have heard several individuals talk about
the absence of parents. Where do parents fit into this restorative process?
That has been sort of absent. We have heard of support for some victims who
have been bullied. Others said that they had no support from administrators
and so on. I agree that there must be some restorative approaches, but where
do parents, in both of your opinions, fit into all of this as we move
forward? In any system, if something is not being reinforced at home, there
is a breakdown.
Mr. MacKay: Absolutely. That is a really important point. I thank
you for that question. In the best restorative approaches, parents are
included as part of the relevant community. Ideally, though it is difficult,
not only the parents of the victim, who needs support, but also the parents
of the perpetrator — because those are the parents not often in the picture
— should be part of that community, which allows them to be aware and to
reinforce it at home.
Elsewhere in the report, we actually recommend that there be a duty — it
is not highly enforceable; it is not a big penalty — of parents to supervise
the online activities and other activities of their children in the home.
That is a big challenge, which requires education in technology and all
kinds of things. There is a proactive obligation because it does go back to
this point of accountability that I made earlier; everybody needs to be
accountable to change this. They need to be doing that, but then they have
to be valued as part of that community that deals with restorative
approaches and be part of the decision making. They should be in both of
those roles. They should have some duty, with the necessary support, so that
they know about, within reason, technology and social media, and report to
schools. They should also be included in these restorative approaches as
part of the community.
The Chair: Dr. Patchin, before you answer all of the questions, I
hope you remember that Senator Meredith and I have asked that you please,
for our audiences, give a brief definition of what you think restorative
Mr. Patchin: I think Professor MacKay did a pretty good job. The
idea, at least from my perspective as a criminologist, is that the criminal
justice system is very retributive, meaning that we penalize and punish and
hold someone accountable. Especially here in the United States, it is very
offender-focused. This person did something; now we need to deal with this
person, put him in jail, fine him or punish him in some way. It completely
ignores all of the other parties. Police officers are not trained to deal
with victims or other community institutions that may have been harmed by
the offender's behaviour. It is very focused on the offender. The promising
thing about restorative justice is that it seeks to involve everybody and
restore the situation and the relationships in a way that accounts for what
was done but with the perspective of all involved, getting their
perspectives on how to handle it.
Restorative justice is a very popular buzz program and term here in the
United States, and it has been like that for 10, 15 years. I am afraid that
if we say, "You need to do restorative justice, " then it will be sort of a
watered-down model. You will have people doing restorative justice who do
not really know what they are doing. There is the potential for harm there
because you need to have well-trained administrators of this kind of
program. Essentially, you are often putting the target and the offender in
the same room together. You are, ideally, holding the offender accountable
while the target and supporters of the target are there. If that is done
inappropriately, it can make matters significantly worse.
Victim-offender mediation is not the only form of restorative justice.
There are victim impact panels and many other things that you can do. The
point that I am trying to make is that it is very promising, and there are
some programs being done here in the United States. Canada is much more
progressive in that regard, and we need to learn from you.
I cannot remember if I mentioned this the first time I visited with you
or not, but we really need the research. I know Canadian provinces and
schools are doing a lot of really great things when it comes to restorative
justice. As a researcher and a social scientist, I want to see data and
evaluations on the outcomes for the targets because, as you mentioned, you
met with a lot of these students. It would be very helpful for us to know
whether or not they felt, if they went through the restorative process, that
it was helpful for them, that it reduced the amount of bullying in the
future and that they felt that they were in a climate at that school that
was more supportive of them. As for the offenders, those doing the bullying,
I would like to learn whether or not they felt like they were accountable,
could move on and were not treated any differently in the school. I think
there are a lot of questions that we do not know, but it also speaks to what
I am looking for, which is really a tool kit — several different options
available to everybody involved — restorative justice being one tool and,
potentially, criminal statutes being another for those extreme cases. We
need a whole range of consequences and remediation at the school, family and
community levels so that we are not relying on these zero-tolerance policies
that say, "If you bully, you will get kicked out of school, " because the
vast majority of bullying and cyberbullying incidents do not require that.
What can we do that is short of that?
We need to come up with a list of promising options and provide resources
to schools to implement those options, but then also study them so that we
can learn. We can take those next five or ten years and start to formulate
the best practices in this regard instead of schools doing this piecemeal
because I hear stories from schools all over the country and abroad with
some really great programs and promising things. However, as a social
scientist, I cannot wholeheartedly, fully recommend them until we see data
that there is some improvement both in behaviour and perceptions and the
feeling of safety at school.
The Chair: What about Senator Meredith's question of the role of
parents in restorative justice?
Mr. Patchin: I, too, believe that parents are a party in that. I
think the key for parents is that both the parents of the alleged offender
and those of the target need to be involved in all aspects of this. From a
criminal standpoint, whether or not there needs to be legislation, the key
is whether the parents were negligent, whether or not they knew that their
kids were doing something either illegal or inappropriate and let them do it
or turned a blind eye.
I was involved in evaluating a truancy program for elementary-aged kids —
6-, 7- and 8-year-old students — in the United States several years ago, and
some of these kids were missing 20 to 25 per cent of the school day. If a 6-
or 7- year-old is missing school, clearly there is some kind of parental
influence there. It is not like they are skipping out the back door to go
hang out with their friends. Understanding why these kids are cyberbullying
others and determining whether or not there is a parental role there might
determine whether there is responsibility.
Senator White: Thank you for your presentations. I was pleased to
hear you refer to restorative justice practices. In Canada, restorative
justice has been available to us in the Criminal Code through our Young
Offenders Act since 1985. It is not new to us, although we sometimes behave
like it is.
My question is about extension beyond the school. There are Canadian
human rights cases that have identified that the workplace extends into the
home and, in fact, into private events like golf tournaments. Would that not
carry the same weight for the school as well?
Mr. MacKay: That is a very good analogy, and I agree with Dr.
Patchin's point. I think the law, for lawyers and criminologists, is
relatively clear that that is the case, but the problem is — and this seems
to be the case in both Canada and the U.S. and beyond, probably — that that
is not the way it is seen by schools and school boards. They tend to resist
that, even though that is, I think, the state of the law from those
workplace cases and the to Tinker v. Des Moines that Dr. Patchin
referred to. There is also a Supreme Court case, here in Canada, the Malcolm
Ross case, Ross v. New Brunswick School Dist. No. 15, that talks
about the obligation to have safe schools, which means that you have to deal
with matters outside of that.
One last obvious point: If a fight occurred and the fight was across the
sidewalk — they stepped off school bounds and had a fight — no one would
say, "Well the school cannot do anything about that because they stepped
across the sidewalk. If they were on the school side, we could do
something. " However, because the whole school watched them do it, they
cannot do anything. Of course they could.
The same principle applies if it is cyberbullying.
Senator White: Maybe it will take a civil suit against a school
I have a point for our friend from the United States. If you wish, go to
the NSRJ-CURA website. They have some excellent evidence. Every time you
present, you mention research. They have excellent research on school-based
programs for school justice and success.
Senator Ataullahjan: My question was kind of answered, but I would
still like to ask it. In our hearings, we heard from the youth that a law
against cyberbullying would not be effective simply because they do not
believe that laws affect them. They rather supported measures that made the
bully think about what they had done, such as educational programs or
community service. We heard that again and again.
Would you both agree with this, based on your respective research? Would
you recommend making cyberbullying a criminal offence?
Mr. MacKay: I will start off on that. I think there is a role for
a Criminal Code provision that can deal with this. Similar to the situation
with the schools and the school boards, I understand that a lot of police
feel that the existing Criminal Code provisions are not adequate.
Personally, as a legal analyst, I am not sure I agree with that. There are a
number of things in terms of defamatory libel, intimidation, criminal
harassment, assault — all kinds of things that can be applied — but
sometimes there is an educational role.
For extreme cases, I think it is worth considering whether there should
be some kind of a crime of cyberbullying. However, again I want to emphasize
that the young people are partly right: If that were the only thing that
happened, it would not be enough. However, I think there are some cases that
require it. Unfortunately some bullies and cyberbullies will not change
their ways by being dealt with in a softer, more integrative way. Many will,
but not all.
There are some really outrageous cases where something needs to be done.
I will give a dramatic example. The task force in Nova Scotia was set up in
part because of the very high profile and tragic suicides of three young
women. Fairly recently, a person who was identified and tracked down
actually said that he and his cross-Canadian group of 15 people successfully
forced those young women to commit suicide — that they convinced them to
commit suicide — and that they had other targets they were now pursuing.
The police investigated that and were able to track down the individual
who put that on Facebook. They concluded, at least at this point, that there
was nothing they could do. I find that shocking. That is both the RCMP and
the local police saying they cannot deal with that within the existing
structure. If that is true and if they cannot deal with that, then I say you
need something to deal with that.
It is also one of those really disturbing comments that anyone would
think that it is something to brag about on Facebook that you successfully
convinced three young women to commit suicide and were now targeting others.
You may have seen the bullying documentary, where they were after a young
person who hanged himself in the United States. They showed up at school
with nooses around their necks, claiming credit for this. There is that
awful value system in the first place.
In those extreme cases, I am not sure restorative circles or approaches
are enough. There is still a role for the criminal response, as well.
Mr. Patchin: I would agree. There are those rare cases where a
criminal response might be necessary. As was mentioned, at least here in the
United States we have criminal laws against harassment and assault and even
felonious assault, even if there is not physical harm. There are a whole
host of potentially civil remedies, but those are expensive to pursue.
On the extreme end, you do need criminal legislation. It also legitimizes
I also agree with the young people you spoke to. We know from decades of
deterrence research in criminology that people in general, and teens
especially, are not likely to be deterred or are not likely to refrain from
criminal behaviour just because there is a law. I wrote a paper 12 years ago
that basically asked kids whether it was likely they would get caught for
smoking marijuana or doing various things. Then I asked whether they did
those same things, thinking their behaviours would be based on their
perceptions of whether they would be caught and punished, and there was no
correlation whatsoever. They just did not think they would get caught or
The last thing I want to see happen is the police march into these
schools and handcuff these kids and drag them off and throw them in jail for
their bullying behaviours, because the vast majority of these cases do not
To think a little bit about what needs to happen, you need to think about
what the target is after here. What is the target of the bullying or
cyberbullying looking for? If I am being bullied or cyberbullied, it is
simple what I want to happen, and that is that I want the bullying to stop.
For some, that might mean some sanctions in school. For the bully, maybe the
bully gets punished at home. Maybe it is the threat of legal response.
That is why I think we need a range of these things so that, ideally, you
can start off at the lower end and hold the bullies accountable, make them
aware that what they are doing is wrong — potentially illegal, but it is
certainly immoral — and for a whole host of reasons they need to stop doing
it. If they do not, and if they continue or if the behaviour increases, then
you need to ratchet up the response, as well.
Kids tell me pretty much every day that the reason they do not tell
adults about their experiences with cyberbullying is, one, they do not think
it will work to stop the behaviours, but even worse, they think it will make
matters worse for them in terms of more bullying or cyberbullying. We need
to respond as adults in a way that gets those behaviours to stop.
Again, I am hopeful it will not be a criminal response in most cases.
However, if you have tried everything within the lines or if it is a
particularly egregious form of cyberbullying that perhaps does result in the
death of a target, then perhaps criminal responsibility is appropriate.
Senator Ataullahjan: I have another question, Mr. MacKay. You
mentioned in your report that the most important role models for children
are their parents. Kids need to be provided digital training before using
the Internet. However, as digital natives, they often have more knowledge
than their parents. I have talked to parents who have children about
cyberbullying, and quite often I am asked, "What is that? " It is amazing
how many people are not aware that this is a big issue. It shows lack of
conversation with children.
For the benefit of the parents watching this and hearing, and for our
future report, what can parents do to promote safe Internet use, and what if
they are unaware of the dangers that children face?
Mr. MacKay: Again, that is a really important point. That is part
of the difficulty. By and large, it is not that parents do not care and do
not want to do something, but they often feel they do not know what to do.
As you say, they do not know about cyberbullying and they do not know about
the Internet. Certainly for me it was an education from a lot of younger
people in our task force and working group about some of the websites and
things that are out there.
One of our recommendations is that those parents need support; they need
education programs. Many people could do that, but the schools would be one
good place to start in terms of educating them about technology and the
nature of the Internet, positive and negative. The Internet is a positive
thing in many ways, but it does have its negative side. They need to be
These students then need, at home as well as in school, to learn what we
talk about and many others do: good digital citizenship. I am not sure they
teach citizenship in schools anymore, though I think we do to some extent.
Regardless, we also need digital citizenship in terms of what is a
respectful and responsible way to behave online.
The other realization, through my exposure and immersion in the last year
or so to this issue, is that it is in many ways a more important reality for
youth than the nice, sunny world outside of us here that is the real world;
the virtual, online world is as or more significant for many of them. The
things they need to learn are how they behave, how they should behave, what
is acceptable, and what is disrespectful.
It is the kind of thing, in a sense, that parents have always taught. In
some ways, probably parents and adults — I would be a good example — are
overstating the difficulty.
There are still basic things like respect, responsibility, and a sense of
community and accountability. It is in a different medium and a different
forum, but the same kind of good citizen, good human being lessons that we
teach people are what we need to teach children about online. The point you
quoted was that we would not think of having students drive cars without
some kind of training, but we give them a computer and say "go. " We do
nothing about some of the risks, dangers and appropriate use of that
Mr. Patchin: It is not surprising to me that parents, as an issue,
have come up here. In my view, that probably is the biggest challenge. We
can develop laws and school policy, but it is hard to legislate parents to
be good parents. The vast majority of parents are decent or good parents,
but the 2 per cent or 5 per cent who are not good or decent parents are
where we tend to see the problems.
Generally speaking to the majority, it is important in my view for
parents to develop a positive relationship with their children so that the
children feel comfortable talking with them about any concerns they have,
whether it is online or off-line — no doubt these days much of it is online
— and not to sort of knee-jerk respond or react to any problems they might
Teens fear telling Mom that they are receiving mean text messages from
someone at school because Mom will respond by taking away the cell phone so
they do not receive any mean text messages. That just makes the problem
worse because they no longer have their technology. It is important for
parents to explain to their children that they will listen to the problem,
will try to understand it and will respond in a way that is appropriate and
hopefully helpful to the child.
It is important for parents to be involved in that technology as well. I
meet with parents a couple times a week in different schools and tell them
that they need to be online. If they have a child on Facebook, they need to
be on Facebook. They tell me, "I do not have time for Facebook. " I tell
them that if their child is on Facebook, they do not have time not to be on
Facebook. They need to have a basic understanding of the technology, which
the child can help with; and the parent can help the child to understand the
basic common-sense rules of the road, such as not posting inappropriate
pictures, your phone number, your address or any information that could be
used to bully or harass you.
As Professor MacKay alluded to, it is about teaching these values,
respect, integrity and doing the right thing, whether it is online or
off-line. It does not matter where these things happen. As parents, we need
to instill these values. The problem we are wrestling with is how to
legislate that. How do you force parents to learn it? I did over 50 school
presentations last year, and I did parent presentations in most of them. On
average, about 15 or 20 parents showed up for the meetings. You can get the
schools involved and you can create opportunities for parents to learn about
these technologies and the problems, but unless their child is experiencing
something like this, often they do not show up. It is a huge challenge; and
I do not have an answer for that.
Mr. MacKay: I will add one point that was triggered by Dr.
Patchin's comments. The other important role for parents is as adult role
models. The focus is on youth, but youth do not have a monopoly on bullying
behaviour. Much of what they are doing is copying bad adult role models of
bullying behaviour and, in some cases, parent behaviour. Parents have a
responsibility to not act in a bullying fashion. If they go to a
parent-teacher meeting and bully the teacher, that is what the child sees. I
talk about the role model in the report, and there are some not very good
adult role models. That is another important thing. You have to practise
what you preach. Young people are perceptive. It is what you do, not what
you say, that is significant.
In a Canada-wide study it was found that the number one reason young
people did not tell adults, including their parents, about being bullied or
cyberbullied was not what you would think — it will get worse — but rather
fear of losing access to the Internet. "If I tell my parents, they will
tell me to disconnect and it will be gone. " Kids would rather put up with
bullying than be disconnected from that important reality. The study was
fairly recent, within the last two or three years. That was the number one
reason. Ms. Wendy Craig and Ms. Debra Pepler did a Canada-wide study on why
young people did not tell adults, including parents; and that response is
Senator Ataullahjan: In your study, you talk about talking to a
grade 9 student who says that talking to parents about this kind of stuff is
awkward; there is no point to it. They talk to peers instead who might not
know how to deal with the situation.
One thing stood out for me as we near the end of this study: Children
want their parents involved. You might be aware as you have been talking to
children. The one thing we kept hearing was that they want their parents to
be involved. What do we do? What recommendation could this committee make
about parents being involved?
I have a comment about how instant everything is. My daughter was at a
wedding. By the time she came home an hour and a half later, a picture had
already been posted on Facebook, and about 10 people had commented on it. It
shows how instant everything is these days.
Mr. MacKay: Exactly. On that last point, it is so true. They
probably were sent out during the wedding, I suspect, which is how the world
Valuing the parent input is important, as we talked about earlier, and
including them where appropriate. Probably the most important thing is to
give them the tools. As Dr. Patchin said, I think the communication between
the child and the parent online or off-line is really important. In some
cases, they provide teachable moments. If something is happening online, you
need to be able to have a conversation with them about that. To get to that
stage, parents need the tools and the confidence to engage in that
conversation and be on Facebook. They need to be comfortable enough with the
technology at some level to be able to do that. That is a real issue and gap
for parents. Somewhere, whether it is community services or provincial
departments of education, I am not sure, someone is not providing that. It
is not happening as much as it should happen for teachers, students and
parents, in particular older parents. This is changing somewhat because the
parents have grown up and are digital natives as opposed to digital
immigrants, to use their language on the age basis; but there are still many
people who are not comfortable with that and need to get that level of
comfort. It does not mean they have to be as good at it as the children are,
but they need to be able to have those conversations. Providing those
supports is vital.
Emphasizing parental accountability is important because schools and
police can go only so far. At the end of the day, parents have a vital role,
as our report talks about, in children's attitudes, their behaviour and
their conduct. The fact that it is online does not change that basic
Mr. Patchin: I agree. The key is getting parents involved in the
online lives of their children at an early age; but I do not know how you
can do that. I do not have a quick and easy way except to suggest something
as simple as marketing and showing them what powerful tools some of these
technologies are. A good example is that many adults eventually get involved
in different online technologies, social networking, for example. The
fastest growing segment on some social networking sites, and Facebook in
particular, are older people who did not want to get involved but are
involved now and seeing some benefit to it. Maybe they need more
encouragement in terms of learning the technology. We are in an interesting
time because the parents in the next 10 to 15 years will have some basic
technology skills. It will be interesting to see how that shapes their
involvement in the lives of their kids and whether the behaviours are
responded to more quickly.
The key is to get parents involved in the online lives of their kids. I
just do not know how you, as a committee, can directly encourage that. That
is the challenge.
Senator Harb: I heard both of you talking a bit about the changes
to the criminal status, legislative or otherwise. It strikes me that it is
almost like we are hitting a little bug with a sledgehammer. We are dealing
with kids in grades 7, 8 and 9, mostly. We can change all the laws in the
world, and they still do not apply to underage kids. It has to be something
else, and that is specifically dealing with the tool.
We heard over and over again that in some cases those kids — the offender
and the one who gets offended — are best friends. It seems to me that the
tool is the problem. The Internet, the device itself, is what is causing the
problem. What can we do specifically if we were to focus on trying to
address the real trouble, the tool?
Mr. MacKay: First, I think you are right, although I guess I would
change it a little bit. It is actually not the Internet that is the problem;
it is how it is used. Nonetheless, the Internet is a good thing. Lawyers are
bad about splitting hairs, so I apologize in advance. One small thing is
that the Criminal Code actually applies, but it is applied in a different
way through the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The penalties and structures are
different. Nonetheless, that does not change the essence of your question.
Going back to the Criminal Code point, the value is not just in applying
the Criminal Code and having police officers go into schools, because
hopefully that is rare, or having it apply. The criminal sanction is a blunt
instrument. It is kind of taking a sledgehammer to kill a fly. Sometimes
flies need to be killed, so it needs to be there sometimes.
The other part of a criminal law or any law is educational. In our laws —
and the Criminal Code is a significant one — we make a statement about what
is and is not acceptable behaviour. That is another reason why I have
advocated in Nova Scotia putting some of this in the actual statute. Some
other provinces have done this. It is a statement of significance if it is a
statutory or Criminal Code statement, as opposed to a policy, guideline or
something like that.
Students do not necessarily get that immediately. However, part of
digital citizenship is being able to say abusing the Internet is such a
serious thing that it is a criminal offence, and serious things can happen.
Let me give you a local example, although I am sure it has played out
elsewhere. Around Christmas last year, a number of young people were texting
nude pictures at a particular high school. One in five young women between
13 and 16 send nude or semi-nude pictures, which is a pretty shocking
statistic in terms of dangers and what people need to be aware of.
This might be good or bad, but one of the things they did was bring the
police into the school for an educational session. They pointed out that
since the pictures they were sending were underage, they were engaging in
distributing child pornography, which is a serious Criminal Code offence.
They were shocked. I do not know if it is the total answer, but educate them
about the fact that what they are doing is not appropriate, not respectful,
all those kinds of things. You are also engaging in a serious Criminal Code
offence by distributing. As soon as you send one underage picture to someone
else, technically you are distributing child pornography and that is a
serious crime. There is the educational value. You are right, we will not be
using it in terms of locking people up, but the educational value is large.
Mr. Patchin: I think we have to set up a separate set of hearings
on the whole sexting question, and child pornography, because that is a huge
issue. I will not speak about the criminal statute, because Professor MacKay
got it right, in my view. That is why need that element. It is a blunt tool
and hopefully we use it rarely. I also think there is a role for explicit
language in legislation — whether it is at the federal or provincial level —
that reminds or demonstrates to schools in Canada that they have the
authority to intervene in these behaviours that happen away from school.
Here in the United States, a lot of states pass laws saying bullying and
cyberbullying are bad, but they stop short. In my opinion, the most
important thing is providing resources to those schools. They say schools
need to deal with this problem, but they do not give them training, money,
staff or additional resources to deal with it. There could be a role in
legislation in that regard, in addition to the hopefully rarely used
Senator Harb: My final question deals with whether or not you have
done any study to find out why is it we have this bell curve of grades 7, 8,
and 9 where you have the majority of the cyberbullying happening. Suddenly
it falls off after grade 10 and you do not see much of it before grade 7. I
am thinking aloud here. Does it have anything to do with the fact that when
you hit grade 6 you move to high school, you are not in the general
population, and suddenly it becomes the survival of the fittest?
Mr. MacKay: It is an interesting Darwinian analysis; those most
injured are already are gone, which may be. One of the big impacts of
bullying, apart from the extreme suicides and so on, is dropping out of
school and bad academic performance. In fact, that is partly what is
happening. They are dropping out and in some cases it is the bully as well
as victim. That is some of it.
Nova Scotia may be a rarity on this, but we had an online survey of 5,000
people. The growing numbers were actually in the smaller areas. There are
more elementary — junior high was still the most — comparatively than there
used to be and more high school than there used to be. Maybe we are aberrant
in that regard, but the curve was flattening out a bit in Nova Scotia.
I am not a psychologist on this, but apart from that I think it is partly
the issue of belonging. Being part of the group is important throughout
school, but probably nowhere as much as in junior high. At elementary other
things are going on and in high school you have more of an identity and it
is established. In some ways the need to be included, respected and to be
part of that school community is probably greater at junior high.
I do not have any real statistics on that, but that might be the other
reason. I think one of the most damaging aspects of bullying is that you are
ostracized. You are already identified as being different on the outside,
and we will reinforce it with bullying and cyberbullying, and others join in
by liking the comment online. Bystanders support it and you are even more on
the margins. While that is important all through, it is probably most
important in junior high.
Mr. Patchin: I agree. I have posed that question to a lot of
educators. What is it about grade 6, 7 and 8 students? There is more
bullying, cyberbullying, and other problems. In fact, I posed the hypothesis
that as technology expands to younger students, will we see more
cyberbullying in fifth grade, fourth grade? A lot of the sixth, seventh and
eighth grade educators I speak with — counsellors, teachers, principals —
say, "No, it will always be sixth, seventh, eighth grade. " There is also
something unique developmentally, biologically, chemically, psychologically
about those students.
We see individuals targeted for bullying or cyberbullying because they
are different or perceived to be different. There are so many changes going
on during adolescence and particularly middle adolescence, where you can
find just about anything to say that someone is different and it is us
versus them. There are so many psychological and sociological reasons. It
certainly speaks to the importance of early intervention and prevention
programs. I speak to third and fourth graders about these issues all the
time so hopefully when it does get into sixth, seventh and eighth grade it
evens out the problems they might experience.
Senator Ataullahjan: I just realized one thing we have not touched
on is that in Ontario you have parent councils and school advisory councils.
As someone who was very involved with the parent council, if we felt a topic
was important enough that other parents should hear we would organize a
gathering and speak to the parents. Have you looked at anything like that,
Professor MacKay? Is there anything like that in Nova Scotia?
Mr. MacKay: The closest to that is we have elected school boards,
which do have parents on those. However, we also have PTAs or parent-teacher
I forget exactly what form, but one of our recommendations about getting
parents more involved in providing education was, in part, to work through
those parent-teacher associations or parent associations, in particular,
because they already have connections and relations with the school. There
is a great deal of interest among those groups because they recognize that
the need is there and that things need to be done. I think that that is a
very useful vehicle to use where they exist.
Often, I think that they feel marginalized, that they are not really part
of the community that makes the decisions and deals with this.
Senator Meredith: Thank you, professor and doctor. I will just
bring it home here to the fact that we are finalizing our report. We are
about to start writing our report, and we are looking at Article 19 of the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 13 comments on
playing with the minds of our children and how we can protect them.
Dr. Patchin, you spoke of the United States having just sort of piecemeal
legislation. There is not a coordinated effort to deal with cyberbullying.
My question is related to a national strategy. We talked about that with
our previous witnesses. Would that national strategy come with some
resources and a child commissioner who would then report to the government
and request resources, on a yearly basis, to say, "Let us deal with this
problem effectively? " We have seen the consequences of not dealing with it,
and every jurisdiction is trying to deal with it in a piecemeal way. Would
you support national strategies across the United States and across Canada,
and would that include a commissioner of some sort with additional
Mr. MacKay: If I could start off, I think that would be a really
important role for your committee to play, to start that movement toward
some sort of a national strategy. The summary that I have done of the
provincial legislation, which is available to you, really emphasizes your
point. There are a lot of good ideas, but it is very piecemeal. Some do it
by policy; some do it in very different ways. For example, B.C. does not
have very much in the way of legislation, but they dedicated $2 million
toward responding to issues of bullying and cyberbullying. Normally,
provinces do not have enough resources, and I think a national strategy that
would suggest some resources and dollars would be very important. The Nova
Scotia government was pretty good at responding to my report in its early
days, but those points that they are resisting are mostly the ones with big
dollar figures attached, like hiring more counsellors, having more supports
available or offering courses. I think that that resistance would be much
less if someone said, "There is money to do that, and it is earmarked for
that. " You think of national daycare strategies or national health
strategies and things like this where there needs to be both a statement
nationally that this is an important matter for Canadians in every territory
and province and some supports and resources there if you want to do it in
your own way. I think that would be really important. I would completely
The Chair: Dr. Patchin, do you have something like that in the
Mr. Patchin: No, we do not, but I wish we did. I think the
financial resources are, obviously, the most attractive aspect of that, but
even more important than that are the knowledge, the access to the research,
the best practices and the model policies. In some ways I feel like I am
trying to do that because I go into all of these different schools across
the United States and abroad, and they are asking me for help. "What does a
model policy look like? What can we do in terms of prevention, response and
research? " If only there were resources at the national level to organize
this information in a way that could direct it. School districts, parents
and communities are genuinely looking for help. If we could show them that
we have money to implement this program and have done this program in X
number of other school districts and cities and it has worked, I think
school districts would be happy to do it, especially to pilot it for a year
or two and then to take it on themselves. Once they see that it is working,
they would be happy to take it. I think that from the standpoint of the
buying power and legitimatizing the problem and, hopefully, the solution, it
would be a great idea.
Senator Meredith: That would also relate to the international
community as well. You talked about travelling abroad and finding that there
is a hunger for this sort of coordinated effort to deal with this problem.
We heard from Great Britain today, and, in their education act and other
acts they empower teachers and administrators more. However, there is not
that coordinated effort, and I think that that would go a long way to
protecting the lives of our young people. That was more of a comment than
The Chair: My first question is on a children's commissioner. Our
committee has, in many other reports, such as the sexual exploitation and
children report, recommended that there be a national children's
commissioner who could look at issues specifically faced by young people.
May we have your comments, Professor MacKay? Then, we will go to Dr. Patchin
to see if there is something like that in the United States.
Mr. MacKay: I think that that is an interesting idea, and I think
it would be useful, partly as a kind of national presence and coordinating
role as part of this national strategy. It would be very important, though,
that there be resources to go with that. That there not only be a
commissioner but also the resources to actually do something would be quite
Perhaps it is an obvious point, but perhaps part of that mandate should
be First Nations education because there is clear federal jurisdiction with
respect to First Nations education. I know that there was a protest on the
Hill today with young students talking about a lack of schooling and quality
education for First Nation students. Again, as Dr. Patchin said, there needs
to be more study, but bullying and cyberbullying is certainly a big issue
within First Nation schools and perhaps even more so when First Nation
students off-reserve go to the regular schools, stand out as being different
and are targeted for bullying. A commissioner should be for all children but
should certainly include First Nations and perhaps other vulnerable groups
who are particularly targeted by this.
Probably you would get a little provincial resistance, but you probably
do not have to worry about that in the kind of recommendations that you
make. That is partly why I mentioned the First Nations point as giving a
national or federal jurisdiction to it.
Mr. Patchin: I do not think that we have anything like that here
in the United States, or at least I cannot think of any one sort of person,
cabinet member or anything who would be responsible for that. We do have a
number of initiatives within different departments — the Department of
Education and the Department of Health and Human Services — where they try
to funnel some resources or grants.
There certainly would not be a shortage of work for a national children's
commissioner. My concern would be there would be too many issues. You talk
about bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and child exploitation; there is a
laundry list of things. I would be worried that this person would be
overwhelmed with information and obligations and responsibilities, but maybe
starting with one person leading a group would be useful, especially if
there are resources available that they could direct to known problems,
using known or at least promising solutions.
Mr. MacKay: One other thought that occurred to me as sort of a
federal link to that was the point that Senator Meredith made about the
international obligations under Article 19. Collectively, Canada is
responsible for its international obligations. The national level needs to
take the lead on that, and there are a number of conventions, obviously
including Rights of the Child and a number of things like child
exploitation, that have international obligations. One aspect of a very
large role for this person might be to look at the extent to which Canada is
living up to its international obligations and assisting the provinces, who
are ultimately responsible for things within their jurisdiction, in also
living up to these international obligations. The First Nations element and
the international element might give you a kind of federal hook to this,
which otherwise would look very much like property and civil rights in the
The Chair: When we started this evening, I think one or both of
you spoke about the triangle — education, law and prevention. I have been
thinking about this triangle. Is it equal — one third, one third, one third?
Where would your emphasis be? From what I am hearing from you — and this is
why I am testing this with you — is that education and prevention would be
the major part, and law would figure in extreme cases. Have I interpreted
Mr. MacKay: No, you have not interpreted me wrong. However, you
are right that it is that sort of triangle and it would not be totally
equal. They are integrated. I see law as also being educational and making a
policy statement, and it has a preventive element. I do not see them as
entirely separate; that is perhaps the only qualification I would make. If I
had to make choices myself, the intervention prevention is the most
important one because it is always better to prevent these negative impacts
and to prevent suicides, dropouts and academic failures. It is a money and
Effective interventions would be the largest segment of the triangle to
me. Law and education might be about equal for the other two. I do not know
if that works as a triangle. I am obviously not a mathematician, but in any
event that would be the way that I would kind of prioritize it.
I know our time is getting short, but Dr. Patchin made a point about
evidence. There is something that a lot of schools told us. There are all
these useful programs out there, and every year they send us hundreds of
programs, but we do not have the time to investigate them. Therefore, the
number one criteria that we set out in our report as a recommendation is
having evidence-based results, or at least promising results. Certainly we
need more access to that. Providing access or a clearing house to this kind
of information could be a national role, as Dr. Patchin said.
What are the evidence-based effective programs? My triangle would be a
little lopsided — maybe it is a quadrangle or something else.
The Chair: My expert says it is isosceles.
Mr. Patchin: I see it more as a pyramid with the intervention and
the prevention at the bottom — the bulk — and the law at the top. There are
many layers the person would have to go through before the weight of the law
played down on them.
The criminal law side is relatively easy; it is easy to pass a criminal
law. The more challenging issue is one that we have grappling with most of
our time here: the resources and the money, because those education and
prevention efforts cost money and time in terms of knowing what works.
I believe it is a comprehensive approach with a lot of tools and
resources. No one magic bullet will solve this problem, so we need to take a
comprehensive approach to it.
The Chair: My last question is on the human rights. We are the
Human Rights Committee, and we are looking at this from the human rights
Professor MacKay, under recommendations 20 and 23 of the task force
report, you envisioned a role for the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission,
dealing with cyberbullying, both as a potential partner in educational
awareness raising and as a possible forum for resolving bullying and
cyberbullying issues and complaints. Recommendation 23 also recommends that
a protocol be developed jointly between the Nova Scotia Human Rights
Commission and the Department of Education on how to handle the restorative
Could you explain more fully what potential role the Nova Scotia Human
Rights Commission could fill in dealing with cyberbullying?
Mr. MacKay: I am glad you asked that question because I think that
is a really promising area for the law. The Criminal Code, as we have
discussed, is a last resort sanction and a pretty blunt instrument. However,
human rights commissions have a lot of potential to assist with this issue.
There are used extensively in Australia, so there is a model to look to
in terms of what Australia has done on that. The critical provision is
harassment on prohibited grounds. As we have discussed today and I am sure
you have discussed in other meetings, frequently the targets of bullying and
cyberbullying are those who are vulnerable and different. It is not
exclusively prohibited grounds, but certainly sexual orientation is big,
Aboriginal origin, race, gender — we could go down the list. All those kinds
of things are major target groups among the top groups.
When we did our youth focus groups and online survey, the number one
identifying factor for those being bullied was being different, in
particular looking or behaving differently. That can be race or a number of
things. There is a great deal of overlap on that.
Most importantly why I think it is a promising alternative and why I
suggest the protocol is that they have a range of ways to respond: You can
have a full-scale investigation and a tribunal if it is extreme, but you can
have restorative approaches, mediation, education, et cetera. There is a
range of different kinds of things that human rights commissions can do.
Perhaps most importantly, in terms of accessibility, in most cases, you
do not have to pay money to use the resources of the human rights
commission. Therefore, if you are a child or parent who does not have the
resources to go to court or to pursue the legal avenue, you can go to a
human rights commission where the investigators and staff there will act on
your behalf. That is a very promising alternative.
As a final point on this, I note that in Ontario's definition of
bullying, they refer within their definition to a number of grounds that
include all of the human rights ones plus some others as examples of the
kinds of things that might well be bullying.
The overlap between the human rights area — this is my last comment — is
very analogous to sexual harassment. There are many analogies between
bullying harassment and sexual harassment, including the fact it needs to be
repeated, that there is a power imbalance, and that very often the defence
is "I did not know it was problematic " with the response being
"Well, you ought to have known. "
There is already a lot of good law on sexual harassment that could be
applied in the context of other forms of harassment that include bullying
The Chair: Do you see a role for the human rights commission
working with schools to resolve disputes between students?
Mr. MacKay: Yes, I would. Part of the protocol that I would see
would involve a great deal of flexibility, perhaps even just having people
go in and talk. We had three different presentations to our task force from
the different parts of the human rights commission: the intervention group,
the education group and the investigation group. They talked about the roles
that they could play.
I think the Canadian Human Rights Commission could also play a role here,
although I was going to suggest expanding section 13, but I guess that will
be up to the senators now. I believe section 13 has gone through third
reading in the House and been eliminated from the Canadian Human Rights Act,
which is the hate speech —
The Chair: It is Bill C-304.
Mr. MacKay: Yes, regarding section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights
Act. I think that there would be potentially a role short of what might be
seen as a kind of hate speech for cyberbullying or bullying speech, as well,
being controlled in a human rights process, which does not criminalize it.
The hate provisions of the Criminal Code I think have only successfully been
used once in Canadian history, and have been tried a few other times.
There is a role for commissions and maybe also a role for the Canadian
Human Rights Commission at that level, as well, particularly online. In
terms of the Internet, jurisdiction over the Internet crosses borders; it is
more of a federal jurisdiction, so that might be helpful, as well. There is
something to think about there.
Senator Meredith: Professor MacKay, you talked about Canada's
obligations and whether we are meeting them on the international stage. That
is of concern to me and I am sure other senators around this table. Could
you comment on that and your perspective? Where are we at? Are we 60 per
cent there? What else do we have to do to ensure that we are adhering to
Mr. MacKay: I think there is quite a lot to be done, actually. I
think there was an earlier Senate report under Senator Andreychuk. I
presented that one in Halifax one time. I believe it was on international
obligations and on the extent they were or were not being met. There is some
improvement, but there is still a lot of room to go.
In relation to Article 19 on safe schools and things like bullying and
cyberbullying, I think we have a long way to go, for the very reasons we
have been talking about, largely coming back to accountability. No one is
really tasked with being responsible for that. Schools say, "If it is off
school premises, it is not us. " Police say, "We do not have the actual
basis in the Criminal Code. " Parents say, "We do not know enough. "
Whoever is responsible at the end of the day, Canada as a nation state
has committed itself internationally, and morally and legally, to saying it
should be, among other things, high on our priority list to look after the
safety of our children. If you are not safe in school, how can you learn and
advance? You cannot, really.
I think we have made progress, but there is a long way to go. Another
important role that this committee could have is in really emphasizing that
this national strategy and some of the things that you suggest might move us
closer to fulfilling that obligation.
The Chair: Dr. Patchin, do you have any last words to add to your
Mr. Patchin: No, except to say that ever since I started this work
over 10 years ago I have viewed Canada as ahead of the curve in dealing with
cyberbullying. In fact, many of the first media inquiries I got were from
people in Canada in 2003 and 2004. I think you should take advantage of that
position and try to be progressive and experiment with some things that
appear promising. As well as, you could spread the wealth in terms of the
knowledge that you are gaining through this enterprise because the worldwide
stage definitely could learn from some of what you are doing.
The Chair: Dr. Patchin, you are a very busy person and you came
not only once, but twice. We very much appreciate your input.
Professor MacKay, it is the same. You both have done us a great service.
To end our study with your remarks makes this a very special day for us. It
has been a long day, but it feels like we have just started with all the
information you gave us. Thank you very much.
Senators, as you know, this is the end of our study, subject to the good
recommendations that Senator White made. If we are able to get witnesses on
those suggestions, we will try to hear from them before we adjourn for the
summer, when our writers will write the report. We will have a draft in late
September for review. Please look at the suggestions that Gary made on the
kind of report we should have.