Department of Education fights cyberbullying

The Nova Scotia Department of Education has set up a committee to look at cyberbullying a week after the death of 17-year-old Courtney Brown.

“It’s time for the government to defend young people who are being victimized by online bullying,” said Minister of Education Ramona Jennex on Wednesday.

By Katrina Pyne

The task force hopes to strengthen school policy on cyberbullying (Katrina Pyne photo).

The Nova Scotia Department of Education has set up a committee to look at cyberbullying a week after the death of 17-year-old Courtney Brown.

“It’s time for the government to defend young people who are being victimized by online bullying,” said Minister of Education Ramona Jennex on Wednesday.

Through the department’s website and a Facebook page, Jennex hopes to include teenagers as part of the solution to cyberbullying.

Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville MLA Mat Whynott will travel around the province leading eight focus groups made up of young people.

The goal is to have a report with recommendations by the end of the year.

“Imagine the heartbreak, finding out that your child is being quietly victimized in your own home by way of a flickering bit of text on a computer screen,” says Jennex. “For all the benefits of the digital age, it also has its dangers.”

Minister of Education, Ramona Jennex, on the role of the Department of Education in preventing cyberbullying.

[audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/A0120406.mp3|titles=A0120406]
Jennex says cyberbullying requires a societal response. School boards, education partners, the RCMP, health professionals, parents and students will all play a role.

Ramona Jennex calls for action against cyberbullying (Katrina Pyne photo).

“We only have students in our schools five out of the 24 hours in a day,” says former minister of education Karen Casey. “The other 19 hours is where the community, the parents, and others need to come together to try to help address the problem and, as we know, it is a problem.”

The ground rules for the cyberbullying task force are still being developed. First and foremost, it will consider the extent to which cyberbullying is occurring among children and teenagers. It will also look at how to strengthen school policy around bullying and provide guidelines for school administrators.

Jamie Baillie, leader of the Progressive Conservative party says:

“I know too well the Town of Parrsboro where we had one of the more recent examples of a tragedy as the result of bullying and cyberbullying. This is an issue of pressing and tragic importance that reaches beyond departments, beyond rural and urban, it affects all towns and villages and the cities of our province.”

External links
Ministerial Statement on Cyberbullying
Courtney Brown’s story, CBC