“We had 18 in attendance and about half of those were youth,” said Leana Todd about a Jan. 10 meeting, the second for the group. “I would say between the ages of 14 and 17. That’s really encouraging.”
The group is starting to tackle the issues of bullying and cyber bullying in Truro and surrounding areas. Todd, a drama instructor, felt she needed to do something after her niece Amanda, a B.C. resident, took her own life in October after relentless bullying.
During the most recent meeting, the group had a chance to listen to Emily McInnis and Brandin Arsenault, founders of the web-based Operation Unfriend Bullying.
“We also have an action plan, which is sort of two-fold,” Todd said.
The group is preparing for a public parent session to be held next month.
“The session is aimed at parents of young children. We’ll be looking at sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. We’re hoping parents will start learning how to use these sites before their children start using them, or as the children are just learning.”
Todd said the objective is to help parents learn the sites so they can help their children use them properly.
“Technology is moving so fast and parents can’t keep up with it,” she said.
The public session is scheduled for Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Truro Boys and Girls Club.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills was also in attendance at the meeting and plans on reaching out to the federal justice minister, Rob Nicholson.
Nicholson was in the Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley riding last year and Mills had a chance to meet with him and several police chiefs.
“We learned about the government’s position on crime and on toughening up those laws,” Mills said. “If they are as serious as that about toughening up on crime, then they should be looking at ways people can send messages, especially through social media.”
Mills said commenters often hide behind false names, but that doesn’t mean their identity is completely hidden.
“Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can track individuals by their numerical address and I would like to see them do that.”
Mills knows that’s a tall order, but when cyber bullies attack, the outcome is becoming more frequent to that of Todd’s niece.
“From talking to police personnel, I know they can do this,” said Mills. “I know some people might say it’s an invasion of privacy, but when it comes to a person’s life, I think there are some things that override that. There’s a responsibility to think of other people.”
Mills currently has a draft of the letter he’s planning on sending, but he said it will be finalized and sent later this week.
“I’d like to somehow move this forward through the legislative process,” he said.
Community Taking Action is also going to be a part of an upcoming youth conference to be held in Truro in late February and the group plans to host a fundraiser for the Cyber Internet Safety Society – Cyber will be on hand and those in attendance can watch a screening of the documentary ‘Bully.’ The fundraiser is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn.