Ottawa – The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) are teaming up to tackle cyberbullying.
The RCMP is providing its members working in more than 5,000 schools across the country with lesson plans teaching youth how to recognize, respond to and prevent cyberbullying behaviour. Students will also learn the serious consequences of cyberbullying, which include mean-spirited cell phone text messages and posts on social networking sites as well as threats sent over instant messaging services.
“We are providing front-line officers with tools based on the most up-to-date information on cyberbullying, including input from youth,” says Insp. Rick Shaw, the officer in charge of National Crime Prevention Services, which oversees the force’s youth services program. “The idea is to ensure that youth are getting the right message so they take appropriate action when confronted with cyberbullying.”
"Bullying in any form is unacceptable social behaviour and cyberbullying is especially cowardly," said Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan. "As the government and as citizens we have a responsibility to protect our most valuable and vulnerable citizens - our children. This latest cooperative effort plus the laws we already have in place are part of that responsibility."
The 30-to-75-minute presentations, aimed at students in Grades 4 through 12, are available through the RCMP’s Youth Officer Resource Centre, an internal Web site that provides tools, tips and complete lesson plans for members working with youth. The site also includes a number of presentations on topics varying from gangs to drugs to Internet safety and traditional bullying.
The CTF, which provided input into the lesson plans, commissioned a national poll earlier this year highlighting the need for awareness. Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed knew of students in their community who had been targeted by cyberbullying in the past year. One in five was aware of teachers who had been cyberbullied.
“This RCMP education program will go a long way in helping reverse this growing trend by providing tools to help promote proper cyberconduct,” says Emily Noble, president of the CTF, which represents some 200,000 teachers across the country.
Deal.org, the RCMP’s by youth for youth Web site, is also helping young people fight the problem with the launch of an online interactive game called Cyberbullying: The Dark Side of Technology. Placed at a desk with access to several communication technologies, players are faced with a series of scenarios and questions based on information they are given about how to identify, deal with and put an end to cyberbullying. To play the game, visit www.deal.org.
“It’s simply not possible to have parents, teachers or police officers looking over the shoulders of our youth at all times,” says Shaw. “The youth of this country want to contribute, so we need to do everything we can to empower them if we are going to stop this growing problem.”
For more information:
RCMP Media Relations, 613-993-2999
Emily Noble, CTF President, 613-688-4300