Last December the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights tabled its report, Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age. Our committee also tabled two companion guides to the report: one for young people, and one for parents.

In November 2011, the Senate authorized the Committee to “examine and report on the issue of cyberbullying in Canada with regard to Canada’s international human rights obligations under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Article 19 commits states to protecting children from all forms of physical and mental violence, including cyberbullying.

As senators, we explored cyberbullying from a human rights perspective, using what we call a ‘rights-based approach’, based on three principles:

1.   All rights are universal and equal;

2.   Children are the subjects (not the objects) of their rights, and they need to be enabled and empowered to develop and promote their rights;

3.   States have an obligation to guarantee human rights.

The report is meant to confront an issue that affects young people across Canada. Most studies indicate that rates of cyberbullying among young people fall between ten and thirty-five percent. So cyberbullying is a growing problem; one that reminds us that the promise of new technologies also presents a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of young people who use the Internet to learn, communicate, and explore the world around them.

Our committee determined that a whole-of-community approach is necessary to prevent and address cyberbullying. In Chapter 7, our committee lists six recommendations that call for the participation of diverse community members in efforts to ensure safety on the Internet, promote positive relationships, and sustain inclusive school cultures.

Over the coming weeks, I will provide a more thorough overview of the findings presented in the report’s six following chapters:

2.   A Portrait of Cyberbullying

3.   The Repercussions of Cyberbullying

4.  Taking a Human Rights-based Approach to Cyberbullying

5.   Roles and Responsibilities of Stakeholders

6.   Developing Best Practices and Better Programs

7.   The Committee’s Recommendations and Observations