WINNIPEG, MB: Today, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection launched two new educational modules for teachers to help address the growing issue of cyberbullying among teens. Through its role operating Cybertip.ca, Canada’s tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, the Canadian Centre has seen a large increase in reports from youth as young as 12 years old with regard to sexual images/videos being created and distributed via the Internet and/or electronic devices, often as a form of bullying.
“Cyberbullying is a complex issue facing young people and we recognize that much of the harm involves sexuality and technology in combination with the onslaught of bullying behavior among peers,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. “It is critical that youth are provided with educational resources and support that enables them to navigate the complexities of personal relationships, deal with harmful cyberbullying behaviour, and seek the help they need in times of crisis.”
Cyberbullying is having a devastating impact on the lives of youth in Canada. In fact, recent reports show at least 37 per cent of students admit that someone has said or done something cruel to them online. In recent years, several high profile cases involving young people taking their own lives or self-harming have prompted a call to action.
“As a mom of teenagers, I worry about how young people today are coping with the growing problem of cyberbullying. It is comforting to know that teachers across Canada will have access to these new resources to help them in their efforts to create safer environments for our children,” says Mrs. Laureen Harper.
The modules are designed for Grades 7/8 and Grades 9/10. The Grades 7/8 educational unit focuses on reducing the incidence of adolescent sexual exploitation and the resulting tragedies involving Canadian youth. The Grade 9/10 module also addresses the growing concern of sexual violence among youth in dating relationships and within peer groups, as well as elevated risk of sexual exploitation whether online or by adults/older youth. Student activity books (What’s the Deal and It is a BIG Deal) were also created to complement the modules in an effort to engage youth and develop their critical thinking skills on the issue. As a part of today’s announcement, the Canadian Centre will be offering 100,000 complimentary copies of these activity books to middle and high schools across the country, as well as making the new modules available.
“These new modules give me hope for the future. Children will have access to important information that can help them in their adolescent years,” says Leah Parsons, mother of Rehtaeh Parsons, a victim of cyberbullying, who died in April 2013. “I strongly believe that some children are becoming desensitized and losing their sense of empathy due to the readily available graphic images seen through social media. Providing educational materials within the schools to address sexualized violence and cyber-bullying is a cornerstone for change and a very necessary one. It will save the lives of children – it could have saved my daughter’s life”
“My daughter’s life ended because of sexual exploitation and excessive cyberbullying which caused the ongoing mental anguish she endured until her death. I am so grateful to see resources available such as these ones, to educate our youth on critical issues which may affect their daily lives,” says Carol Todd, whose daughter Amanda died in October, 2012. “We owe it to all of our children to provide them with the proper tools to face the complexities of the world they are growing up in. The world has changed and we must change what we teach our kids and how we do it. This is a great start to making that difference."
The development of the new modules was made possible in large part due to the generous gift of $100,000 from the Government of Canada, to mark the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge, the first child of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
More information about the modules can be found at www.protectchildren.ca.