Education International
Education International

Canada: education union supports bill tackling cyberbullying

published 13 June 2012 updated 15 June 2012

The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), one of EI’s national affiliates, has voiced its support for Bill C-273, an act that will reclassify cyberbullying as an offence.

Bill C-273, which was successfully passed on 6 June in Ottawa’s House of Commons by only one vote, will now be sent to the Justice Committee for study and amendment.

“This is more than about bullying in schools,” explained Hedy Fry, MP for Vancouver Centre.  “Bullying occurs in the workplace and community daily, and has increased with the use of social media and the anonymity that it provides. Indeed, cyberbullying can follow the victim throughout life and after death, causing harm. My bill on cyberbullying is an important bill with sometimes tragic consequences.”

Complements educational effortsCTF President Paul Taillefer said the bill has the potential to be the first concrete step in making the Criminal Code of Canada more effective in addressing the issue of cyberbullying. “These proposed changes to the Criminal Code, along with protective measures already adopted by governments at all levels, would complement the ongoing educational efforts that are currently being undertaken to address cyberbullying,” he said.

“Canadian teachers believe in healthy learning and teaching environments. However, we need support from the political arena to make it happen. We believe the bill is a step in the right direction. We must also take pro-active measures through education in promoting proper online behaviour and digital citizenship.”

Healthy workplaces and learning environmentsThe CTF adopted a comprehensive policy aimed at addressing cyberbullying across Canada in 2008. Its guiding principles are based on the premise that safe and caring schools that promote healthy workplaces for teachers and healthy learning environments for children and youth should be a national priority. The CTF has also already issued Cybertips for Teachers.

In addition, the CTF has presented briefs to Parliamentary committees and has met with Department of Justice Canada officials urging for amendments to the Criminal Code to address online harassment, cyberstalking and cyberbullying. On 14 May, CTF representatives made a presentation on Parliament Hill to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights and testified on the impact of cyberbullying in Canada.

EI supportEI salutes this important initiative from its Canadian colleagues. It reiterates its commitment to contribute to the eradication of all forms of bullying in schools, and ensure that schools are safe and healthy places for all educators and all students. On 4 May, EI invited all teacher organisations and schools around the world to join the Stand 4 Change Day against bullying.

The EI Declaration on Professional Ethics(2004) states that “education personnel shall safeguard and promote the interests and wellbeing of students and make every effort to protect students from bullying and from physical or psychological abuse”.

The EI European Region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), has also developed an Action Plan on Preventing and Tackling Violence in Schools which includes cyber-harassment.