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8/7/2013 10:07:03 PM

Nova Scotia cyberbullying legislation allows victims to sue

The same legislation that was announced shortly after the death of Rehtaeh Parsons. Also, changes to the Education Act: [quote]Also announced Wednesday were changes to the provincial Education Act, which will clarify the roles of principals when the issue affects schools. Principals now have a more clear responsibility to respond, even to incidents that occur off of school grounds and after school hours. The CyberSCAN Unit, the first of its kind in Canada, is the final piece of the new Cyberbullying Act. Roger Merrick, the unit's director, is hiring five investigators who will look into all complaints of cyberbullying, whether the victim is a minor or an adult. That unit is expected to be up and running next month. "We've all been affected by cyberbullying, whether it has happened to us or someone we know or we've just seen it online," said Chantel O'Brien, a member of the province's Youth Advisory Council. "These amendments will be a wake-up call to those who think they can hide behind a computer to avoid being held accountable. It's reassuring to see the government taking action to ensure youth can feel safe in their own homes." Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia and the chair of the province’s task force on cyberbullying, expressed the need for caution after the new legislation was first announced in April. He said the legislation needs some finessing to ensure it works by including three components: education, changing the laws and preventing cyberbullying by teaching young people about how to be responsible online citizens. "Any study looking at cyberbullying suggests you can't simply demonize the bullies and say they should be sent off to some island somewhere and they're a separate species," he said. "Sometimes the bystanders become the bullies, sometimes the victims become the bullies, the line between all of it is quite complicated and that's one of the reasons in the report — and the government has followed through on some of this — we've stressed restorative approaches where possible." The province has also committed to an independent review by out-of-province experts into the Public Prosecutions Service and police actions in the Rehtaeh Parsons case. The review will begin after the criminal investigation is complete.[/quote]

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