Government unveils anti-bullying online reporting tool

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

Amanda Todd, 15, of Coquitlam, B.C., killed herself Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, after posting a heartbreaking video on YouTube that told her story of being bullied by her classmates. (Screengrab)

Amanda Todd, 15, of Coquitlam, B.C., killed herself Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, after posting a heartbreaking video on YouTube that told her story of being bullied by her classmates. (Screengrab)

The dangers of cyberspace harassment weighed heavily at a Vancouver anti-bullying conference Tuesday, personified most notably by the memory of a Port Coquitlam teen who took her own life last month following years of abuse from peers.

Premier Christy Clark said the death of 15-year-old Amanda Todd should be a “teachable moment” for both experts and government officials attending the ERASE Bullying conference downtown.

“We lost Amanda and it was a tragedy, but we should learn from that. She would want that,” the premier told reporters.

The provincial government organized the event to showcase its own ERASE (Expect Respect and A Safe Education) Bullying program as well as unveil a new website and app allowing students to anonymously report harassment.

Complaints submitted to ReportBullyingBC.ca are sent to a school co-ordinator, who will go alert an administrator or even the RCMP about any concerns.

“This is the thing I’m most passionate about in life, trying to make sure that kids are safe in school,” Clark said.

Simon Fraser University cyber-bullying expert Chantal Faucher said even though there is a risk the new tool could be abused by those making false complaints, surveys show students want to be able to remain anonymous in these situations.

“They don’t want to be seen as the rat, they don’t want to be seen as the snitch telling on their friends, but at the same time they know when something is wrong and they want to be able to tell an adult.”

Anti-bullying expert Theresa Campbell, who spoke at the conference, said terms like cyber-bullying is really just “soft language” that must be taken more seriously.

“The stuff that’s really going on, I started referring to that as social assassination,” she told the crowd of about 200.

 

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