Respectful and Responsible Relationships: There’s No App for That (The Report of the Nova Scotia Task Force on Bullying and Cyberbullying)

Wayne MacKay

Abstract


Chairing this Task Force and producing this report has been both the most engaging and exhausting project that I have ever undertaken. Since my appointment in late May 2011, I have lived and breathed in the world of bullying and cyberbullying. I am sure my fellow Task Force members and members of the Working Group did the same. Born in the wake of tragic teen suicides it was easy for the members of the Task Force to be motivated. Indeed, few ventures have stirred my passions as much as this exercise has.

Bullying is a major social issue throughout the world and is one of the symptoms of a deeper problem in our society: the deterioration of respectful and responsible human relations. The magnitude of the problem is daunting and there are no simple solutions on the horizon. There are, however, some effective strategies.

The advance of technology and the prevalence of social media are profoundly changing how we communicate, and in so doing, they are also changing who we are. While the mandate of the Task Force is to focus on youth, the underlying problems are not unique to them.

I was under no illusion that we would solve the problems of bullying and cyberbullying but I do think that our recommendations, if implemented, will make lives better for many young Nova Scotians. The pain caused by bullying is widespread and the consequences are drastic. In the age of the Internet, cyberbullying knows no boundaries and it permeates all aspects of the victims’ lives. It is also corrosive for the bullies and the bystanders as well, and one role sometimes morphs into another.

It has been a privilege to lead this important task force and I trust we have made a difference by charting a course to a more humane, caring world: one in which technology is the enabler rather than the master, and where social media is used to celebrate our differences rather than to attack those who are different.

As adults we can provide better role models of respectful and responsible relationships and set high standards for the younger generation to follow. Bullying and cyberbullying are community problems and we all must play a part in finding the solutions. I hope this report will be a roadmap to guide us on this important journey.

Keywords


Technology and Internet Law

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