Creating new legislation to criminalize bullies is not the answer to preventing the tormenting from taking place, says Toronto criminal lawyer Esther Daniel.
“It will simply additionally burden an already overwhelmed system,” says Daniel.
Instead, she says, Canada needs to adopt a national anti-bullying strategy that focuses on schools and programs within the institutions.
Daniel’s comments come just days after a case of cyber bullying is said to have pushed B.C. teenager Amanda Todd to take her own life.
On Monday, NDP MP Dany Morin introduced a motion aimed at building an all-party committee of MPs to study the prevalence of bullying and help build a framework for a national anti-bullying strategy, CTV News reports. Read CTV News
Canada does not presently have a national bullying prevention strategy, CTV reports.
“Money should be used towards preventative measures such as counseling,” says Daniel. “I see this as an issue of self-esteem.”
Before she died, Todd created a YouTube video telling the story of her ordeal, which was centered around a bully who used a topless photo of her for blackmail.
Daniel says girls must be “empowered to make better decisions,” and the dynamics of their relationships should be looked at through “an examination of the siege and menacing mentality of young women towards each other, usually surrounding the affections and attention of young men.
“I think the issue involves sexism on the part of young women and men,” she says, adding, “Society telling women that if they want a boy to like them they have to sleep with them or allow them to take nude photos, or that they are of less value in life if they do not have a boyfriend or are not the subject of a boy’s affections.”
Daniel stresses counseling is needed in these scenarios, and if criminal charges are laid, an educational anti-bullying program should be part of the resolution, similar to the Partner Assault Response Services program in domestic violence situations.
“Generally this is a societal issue that has always existed with the pressures of growing up and the double standard regarding sex that applauds young men and shames young women,” Daniel says. “Social media is bringing it to the forefront and magnifies the severity of it.”
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