MLA to be commended for fighting back against cyberbullying

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Hattie Dyck – My Perspective

Congratulations to Truro – Bible Hill – Millbrook –Salmon River MLA Lenore Zann for speaking out about the cyberbullying a young man was doing to her, which obviously caused her distress as it would to any of us.

It’s even worse if he did it hoping it would make her lose favour with some of the electorate in her district. There’s a tendency today to think public figures are fair targets for abuse, which is far from being kind, truthful, or the right thing to do. We should not allow a public figure like Zann to be humiliated by a bully and not speak up against it just because she is a politician.

The 17-year-old youth tweeted a topless picture of Zann, a former actress, taken in 2008 when she had a contract with a cable company. Zann got the tweet taken off the Internet after calling the youth’s parents but that didn’t stop his harassment. He then allegedly had his friends retweet the image accompanied by heaping an escalating series of insults upon her. That’s anything but fair ball in my opinion. It’s unacceptable behaviour and the young man should pay a price for his nastiness.

The good thing about this story is that the young bully picked on the wrong person to have the effect he probably hoped for. I’m sure it distressed Zann as it would any victim of this type of attack, but she is a mature, confident woman who can and did fight back. As an MLA and one of those who might sometime be leader of a political party, she now knows first-hand the horrible feelings that a victim of cyberbullying goes through, and one day may have an opportunity to fashion legislation that will deal with this type of offender regardless of the fact he is only 17 years old.

Truro police Chief David MacNeil said the complaint he received did not result in a criminal harassment charge. The crime didn’t fit the criteria for charges, which include repeated contacts and communication of which was threatening in nature. I find that difficult to understand when the youth and his friends caused her torment both by the picture and comment on social media and by the telephone.

If a number of teenagers get on social media with a desire to harass someone they will most often attain their goal one way or another. If the next victim of this teen and his friends happens to be a 15-year-old insecure girl without friends that will stand by her, the result can be too horrible to think about. How many teen suicides caused by bullying does there have to be before there are laws put in place to deal with a 17-year-old cyberspace bully? Let him spend a few nights or even a few weeks in jail and he won’t be so eager to do it again.

I hope the public will support Zann whether or not they agree with her politically. It’s no joke to be harassed online or by any other venue especially if you’re a public figure. And, worse still, it’s galling to see this young man not have to realize any consequences for doing it. His identity is known around this area and hopefully his peers will not support him. If the law can’t deal with him it’s hoped his peers will try to make him realize how dangerous his actions can be depending on whom he attacks next time. The youth in this community have rallied against bullying in the past. That should teach their peers that it isn’t acceptable conduct. However, some people don’t learn easily from their mistakes or the mistakes of others and obviously he is one of them.

Ms. Zann has been elected twice by a healthy majority, so obviously she has the support of the electorate who know she was once an actress and don’t care if she posed topless for a picture at that time. What she’s doing now is what’s important to them.

I sincerely hope people will put politics aside and not only support her now, but also commend her for fighting back against cyber- bullying.

The recent spate of freezing rain is cause for concern about power outages across Nova Scotia, although in Colchester County we got off easy compared to Ontario and other parts of the country. With the weather pattern all around the world changing, and not for the better, it’s time governments took the lead in changing building codes so ice and wind storms cause less overall damage. I believe all new sub-divisions should be built with underground wiring like Wexford Court here in the Valley area. True, it will mean an added cost for lots and homes, but if it was mandatory there would likely be an overall saving for the homeowner in the long run. It will be a while before this will happen here, but it is already being talked about in other parts of Canada. Some developers, for short-term profit will surely be against it but the sooner the idea is discussed publically the better. Losing a refrigerator full of meat and other costly products is not something any of us wish to endure.

It must have been a long, cold Christmas for those who didn’t have power and for those skilled linemen who braved the cold to get the power back on.

We can’t control the weather but we can guard against it as much as possible. Underground wiring would be a good start.

Happy New Year everyone.

 

Hattie Dyck is a local author who loves folklore and local stories.

 

 

Organizations: Wexford Court

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Colchester County, Ontario Canada

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