A cyberbullying law inspired by Rehtaeh Parsons comes into effect in Nova Scotia. Parsons was the 17-year-old girl from the Maritimes who took her own life after facing humiliating cyberbullying.
Justice Minister Ross Landry introduced the Cyber-Safety Act in April of this year following her tragic death after Parsons was taken off life support a few days after committing suicide on April 4, 2013.
Parsons death rattled the country and brought out advocates of Internet safety to speak more openly about the effects of cyberbulling.
The bill would help protect cyberbully victims by giving them the right to sue in court or seek a police protection order if they or their children are being harassed online.
For example, a protection order could be issued that would place restrictions on the harasser or help discover the identity of the cyberbully, often difficult when they use a pseudonym.
If the victim or their family were to launch a lawsuit, the new law would make the parents of cyberbully — if they are under 18 — liable for damages. This law is the first of its kind in Canada.
In the case of Parsons, her death and the cyberstalking that lead to her death became headline news.
She became a target after an alleged gang rape by four boys from her school when she was 15. Parsons endured but eventually killed herself 17 months later when cyberbullies refused to leave her alone.
This includes texting and calling her a “slut” after the event.
Not only did Parsons have to deal with being a teenager who was, as she alleges, sexually assaulted, but a photo of the horrible affair was passed around online to her schoolmates.
I don’t even want to go into what kind of evil is takes to want to take a photo-trophy of a sexual assault.
She eventually reported the alleged rape to police, but it seems the RCMP only took it seriously after her death.
Is that really what it takes?
The cybergroup Anonymous stepped up for Parsons by allegedly investigating those responsible for cyberbullying the teen and discovering their identities.
In a press release, Anonymous blamed the death on “school teachers, administrators, the police and prosecutors, those who should have been role models in the late Rehtaeh’s life.”
News of her death even reached Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said he was “sickened” by the story. The federal government has announced planned legislation to deal with the issue.
According to reports in the media, the federal government will contribute $300,000 to a new interactive workshop that uses audio, animation and text to teach kids about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Also, come September 2013, a special investigative unit to investigate cyberbullying cases should be up and running.
The RCMP finally announced on April 12, 2013, that the case was being reopened in light of “new and credible information.”