Legislation will not end bullying

With the Amanda Todd case fresh in everyone’s minds, the danger of bullying is in the spotlight of major social issues. Bullying is often dismissed by most people as a rite of passage, primarily by generations who’ve never had to experience the unique new brand of bullying that exists online.

Unlike the coming-of-age teasing people experienced before the days of social media and smartphones, bullying is no longer confined within the limits of a school-day. Instead, it becomes an inescapable problem that is difficult to monitor.

Canada, however, has made an effort to conduct research and monitor bullying. Bullying.org, an anti-bullying organization, concluded that Canadian high schools are subject to approximately 282,000 bullying incidents a month. But while such organizations attempt to shed light on the prevalence of bullying, they do little to help the actual victims as they focus primarily on campaigning against the bully.

Recent government intervention to regulate bullying shares similar flaws. The Government of Alberta’s Education Act will include tough anti-bullying laws while the federal government is attempting to tackle the issue with a national strategy that will look to add cyber bullying to the Criminal Code of Canada.

These new forms of legislation leave students responsible to report bullying whether it is in person or online. This form of “digital citizenship” has already been introduced to Calgary school boards.

While this action is admirable, legislation will not end the issue entirely. Asking students to report online bullying is well intended, but impossible.

With texting, Facebook, twitter and in-person threats, kids will find a way to bully, making it difficult to prevent regardless of what legislation is imposed.

Another problem with legislation is the punishments that accompany it. What are the penalties to breaking these regulations? How does it define bullying? And most importantly, who decides what age is exempt from these laws? Surely the government is not about to throw ten-year-olds in jail.

While adding a policing mentality is a commendable response, introducing legislation will do little to end bullying. Instead, there needs to be a greater emphasis on educating children from a young age on the implication of bullying, and how to respond to it.

This accompanied with a better support system for victims of bullying will hopefully provide people with the resources to change this behaviour on their own.

—The Cord Editorial Board

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