Is Cyberbullying A Crime?

by

 “Emily Noble, president of the [Canadian Teachers’ Federation], said people are using online programs to harass, threaten and spread rumours.”

Source:
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/07/12/cyberbullying.html

Is cyberbullying a crime? It may already be a crime. The CBC article comes closest to explaining cyberbullying when it quotes Mrs. Noble describing it as a new playground. This is a new playground where you can “harass, threaten and spread rumours [about]” other students (or teachers or administrators).

The first two actions are already offences in our Criminal Code. Assault includes both the use of force and its threat. Harassment makes one fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them. These are punishable by up to five years’ and ten years’ imprisonment. If you are worried about your offspring being branded an wrong-doer for one mistake early in her/his life, then take note that Youths are given special treatment.

The third action described, spreading rumours, can be both a crime and not a crime (tort).

Perhaps we can stop calling for new laws and enforce the ones we already have? Sometimes it is a good thing that the saying “if you don’t use it, you lose it” is not a tautology.

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