Protecting victimsProtecting cyberbullying victims. Holding cyberbullies accountable.Cyberbullying can be a sophisticated campaign of attack that can take many forms, but the result is always the same - harm to another person.
In 2013, Nova Scotia passed the Cyber-safety Act, the first legislation of its kind in Canada that protects the victims of cyberbullying and makes those responsible accountable under the law. Instead of having to rely solely on police pursuing criminal action, victims and their families now have new civil options including seeking protection/prevention orders and suing cyberbullies for damages.
Nova Scotia has also created Canada's first cyberbullying investigative unit, CyberSCAN. This five-person team is dedicated to assisting victims, investigating complaints and resolving cyberbullying situations through a variety of informal and formal legal means.
The LawThe Cyber-safety Act defines cyberbullying as "any electronic communication through the use of technology including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, computers, other electronic devices, social networks, text messaging, instant messaging, websites and electronic mail, typically repeated or with continuing effect, that is intended or ought reasonably be expected to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional wellbeing, self-esteem or reputation, and includes assisting or encouraging such communication in any way."
Read the entire act.
Q: What is cyberbullying?
Bullying is when someone repeatedly tries to hurt another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, reputation, or property. Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology to bully someone else. The most common tools used for cyberbullying are computers, cell phones, and other mobile devices. Bullying messages can be text messages, e-mails, social media posts, or embarrassing photos or videos.
Q: What do I do if I'm being cyberbullied?
There is now a special investigative team whose only job is to look into cyberbullying complaints. It's called CyberSCAN. If you think you, or someone you know, is being bullied through technology, you should call CyberSCAN at 424-6990 (within HRM) or toll-free at 855-702-8324.
Q: How can CyberSCAN help me?
CyberSCAN investigators will first try to stop the cyberbullying by talking to everyone involved, including schools and families. If that doesn't work, the investigators can apply for a court order to stop the bullying by:
- ordering the cyberbully to limit all contact with you; and/or
- limiting their use of technology or taking away their computer, cell phone, other mobile devices, and/or internet service, so they cannot use it to bully..
Court orders are valid for one year.
If investigators determine that a crime may have been committed, they will call the police. Crimes linked to cyberbullying include harassment, sexual harassment, distributing child pornography and defamatory libel.
Q: Who can contact CyberSCAN?
Anyone, youth or adults, can contact CyberSCAN - young people or their parents, teachers, principals, police, or other members of the public - to file a complaint about cyberbullying.
Q: What if my friends, my school or my employer know that I'm being cyberbullied?
Anyone can call CyberSCAN to file a complaint for you. If your complaint is being investigated, they may be asked to speak with the CyberSCAN investigators to help stop the cyberbullying.
Q: What will happen to the cyberbully?
CyberSCAN investigators will first try to stop the cyberbullying by talking to everyone involved. The people who are cyberbullying often do not understand the seriousness of their behavior. Having an investigator come to their door can take away their keyboard courage, stopping the harmful action and teaching them to take responsibility and make better decisions in the future.
If this doesn't work, a court may order a person to limit their use of technology so they cannot use it to bully. A court could even take away computers, cell phones, other mobile devices and/or Internet services. People who disobey these orders can pay a fine of up to $5,000, go to jail for up to 6 months, or both.
Victims can also sue the cyberbully in civil court. If you are the parent of a minor child who is the cyberbully, you could be also taken to court and ordered to pay damages.
Q: What if it's an emergency and the CyberSCAN unit is closed?
Help is always available. If you're facing an emergency you should call the police or apply to a justice of the peace to get protection from the cyberbully. To contact the Justice of the Peace Centre call 1-866-816-6555.
Under the new law
- prohibit contact with the person being bullied;
- prohibit or restrict the use of electronic communications;
- prohibit or restrict internet access; or
- result in electronic devices being confiscated.
Step 1: Ask yourself:
- Are electronic communications being used to cause you fear, intimidation, humiliation or distress?
- Are they damaging your health, emotional wellbeing, reputation or self-esteem?
- Are other people assisting or encouraging the cyberbullying behaviour?
If you answered yes, you're likely a victim of cyberbullying.
Contact the CyberSCAN Unit at 1-855-702-8324 or 424-6990 within HRM to file a complaint
Apply for a protection order from the Justice of the Peace Centre by calling 1-866-816-6555 or email JPcentre@gov.ns.ca
Holding Cyberbullies responsible
Either through the CyberSCAN unit or the Justice of the Peace Centre, the new Cyber-safety Act
will help you take the necessary steps to defend yourself, stop the bullying and seek civil damages
from offenders if warranted.
The CyberSCAN unit is made up of investigators with various backgrounds. The team will travel the province and work with victims, families, schools and others to investigate complaints, gather evidence and help stop cyberbullying. This can be accomplished informally without anyone having to go to court, or if necessary, through formal legal actions such as applying for a prevention order or referring cases to police when criminal charges may be warranted. In addition to helping end the bullying, the CyberSCAN unit can also help victims recover by putting them in touch with professionals to cope with any related trauma.