Victims in Nova Scotia will be better protected and cyberbullies will be held accountable for their actions, with Nova Scotia legislative changes, including a new Cyber-Safety Act introduced on April 25, 2013. The province is creating a new Cyber SCAN investigative unit within the Justice Department; investigators will respond quickly to complaints, negotiate formal or informal resolutions and, if necessary, seek a cyberbullying prevention order. The unit will be up and running this fall. The court may order a person to stop online communication. School principals will also have clear authority to act against bullying or cyberbullying, on or off school grounds. Education Act amendments will also reflect the need for school boards to cooperate fully with investigators.
The legislation will also allow victims and their families to seek a court protection order. Similar to an order that can be sought by the cyber-investigative unit, it can ban a person from contacting the victim, talking about them online, or using any means of electronic communication. Courts could also order the confiscation of computers, smartphones or tablets.
Victims will also be able to file a legal action against cyberbullies. If the cyberbully is a minor, their parents could be liable for damages.
The events leading up to Rehtaeh Parsons’s tragic death in April 2013 made the need clear for swift and comprehensive actions. Other provincial actions include:
- Pushing for changes to the Criminal Code;
- Reviewing how the school board and associated agencies approached events leading up to Ms. Parsons’s death;
- Reviewing how the police and Public Prosecution Service handled the case, immediately after the criminal process; and
- Coordinating a public education campaign.
See “Cyberbullying Investigative Unit a First in Canada” available on the Government of Nova Scotia website.