Young people and their families are another step closer to having provincial investigators to act on cyberbullying cases.
The province posted ads today, June 6, to hire five investigators, who will form the first Cyber SCAN unit in Canada. Justice Minister Ross Landry has already appointed Roger Merrick as director of the unit, which is expected to be in operation this fall.
“Cyberbullies have been tormenting others for too long, knowing it was unlikely that they would get caught or be held accountable for their actions,” said Mr. Landry. “The Cyber SCAN unit will take action against cyberbullies and help victims and their families fight back.”
The Cyber SCAN unit is governed by the Cyber-Safety Act, legislation passed this spring to ensure all Nova Scotians have a place to turn when they experience, or are aware of, cyberbullying.
Cyber SCAN will investigate all complaints of cyberbullying, whether the victim is a minor or an adult. Any Nova Scotian can make a complaint: students, parents, teachers, principals, or other members of the public.
Mr. Merrick is a former police officer who has managed investigative units. He is currently the director of public safety investigations at the Justice Department, and runs the Civil Forfeiture Unit and the Provincial Firearms Safety program.
“This unit will be a place where people who are getting bullied online can get help,” said Mr. Merrick. “Investigators will travel across the province and work with victims, families, schools and others to investigate complaints and help stop cyberbullying.”
Investigators will have a number of options to respond. The first step will be to resolve the complaint informally by contacting the individual, family members or others as necessary.
“Our primary goal is to stop the cyberbullying,” continued Mr. Merrick. “We hope most complaints will be resolved simply by making the person doing the cyberbullying aware of the harm they are causing and the possible consequences.”
Investigators also have the power to seek a cyberbullying prevention order. The court may order a person to stop cyber communication or confiscate technology used for cyberbullying. Finally, if criminal charges appear to be warranted, the unit will refer the case to police.
Schools will work closely with investigators on any complaints involving students. Glenn Austen, acting principal of East Antigonish Education Centre/Academy, a Grade Primary-to-12 school in Monastery, said educating students, staff, parents and guardians about cyberbullying issues is a priority for his school.
“It is our goal for students to become informed and conscientious digital citizens who are well equipped to use technology appropriately in all of their daily activities, both at school and off school premises,” said Mr. Austen. “When we need to address issues of cyberbullying, the Cyber SCAN unit will be an integral part of the supports we have available.
“At our school, we have made the education of students, staff and parents/guardians on issues of cyberbullying a major priority, hosting various workshops to promote increased awareness, prevention and intervention strategies in dealing with cyberbullying.”
Cyber SCAN investigators may have law enforcement, legal, education, or social work backgrounds. They must also have experience conducting criminal, compliance-based or code of conduct investigations, as well as training or experience in mediation or conflict resolution. To view the job ad visit www.careerbeacon.com/search/en/-1/-1/-1/-1/0/-1/-1/-1/-1/0/3/MB1305315053.