By Adam Stroud
The government of Canada announced Friday it’s funding $1.1 million for projects to combat and prevent cyberviolence against young women and girls.
The funding will go to eight projects in various communities across Canada. Three of the projects are in the Ottawa region, two are in Quebec, and there is one in each of Mississagua, Ont.; Estevan, Sask.; and Stephenvile, N.L.
The announcement was made at an event hosted by the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women.
Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women said the government supports initiatives that help victims of cyberviolence.
“Our government is committed to ending violence against women and girls in all its forms,” she said.
“By targeting such violence, these projects strengthen our communities and make a positive difference in the lives of women and girls.”
Safe City Mississauga is a registered crime prevention charity and the recipient of $166,000 over two years as part of the project.
Jessica Newton is a project co-ordinator at Safe City Mississauga. She said the charity is grateful for the money.
“We’re very happy to have received it and to get started on it,” she said.
Newton said the first stage of the project will be what she called a “needs assessment.”
“We’re going to be gathering up young girls, but also some boys, and get them to tell us about their experiences,” she said.
Newton said once they have determined what young people are seeing and experiencing online Safe City Mississauga will use its research and funding money for a new prevention initiative.
[The term cyberviolence] focuses more on the sexual violence aspect of it. So spreading nude pictures or unflattering photographs, that kind of stuff.
The eight projects announced Friday are receiving funding under Status of Women Canada’s call for proposals entitles “Cyber and Sexual Violence: Helping Communities Respond.”
What is cyberviolence?
In the Friday’s announcement there was no clarification on what is cyberviolence and what distinguishes it from cyber bullying.
Newton told Humber News the distinction is subtle but the term cyberviolence encompasses some of the most insidious online behavior.
“[The term cyberviolence] focuses more on the sexual violence aspect of it. So spreading nude pictures or unflattering photographs, that kind of stuff.”
Cyber bullying has been a headline-making problem in Canada for several years.
Glen Canning’s daughter took her own life after a high profile case of cyberviolence in 2013.
The Halifax man has since become an activist and advocate for the victims of cyber bullying and their families.
Laws can only do so much
Canning told Humber News that the news of the funding is “wonderful,” but the real challenge in fighting cyberviolence is educating an unprepared and improperly trained police force.
“I’ve heard from numerous people all across Canada and they all share a very similar story,” he said.
“When they’re being bullied or cyber bullied or just tormented, terrorized, harassed online and they go to their police department and they’re met with … a police officer who has no idea what in the world to do next because it’s a cyber crime and they’re just not trained for that.”
Canning also emphasized the importance on teaching the next generation about empathy as well as how to properly use mass communication tools.
“Laws can only do so much. I think the key to this is going into schools [and] talking to children,” he said.
Most important is to stand up against injustice and not be a bystander, Canning said.
“Being a bystander means you really are siding with the people who are using these tools as weapons,” he said.