Carol Todd speaks to Pink Shirt Day rally at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 28, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. parents to get online assistance on cyberbullying

Pink Shirt Day brings new fund to help protect kids from exploitation

The B.C. government is providing $100,000 to school districts to offer social media workshops for parents to help determine when their kids are being bullied.

Education Minister Rob Fleming announced the fund Wednesday at the annual Pink Shirt Day ceremony at the B.C. legislature. One of the speakers was Carol Todd, who started the Amanda Todd Legacy Society after her 15-year-old daughter was exploited and harassed online until she committed suicide in 2012.

“In this 21st Century, technology has been added to make the world of parenting a bit more complex,” Todd told a group of students and politicians from all parties. “Parents have continued to share that they want to become better informed on how their kids are using technology, and more importantly, how to support them in conversations related to social media and potential cyber-bullying. They want to be able to prevent it, and they also want to know how to react to it, in the chance that their child is being targeted.”

Fleming said the fund will be provided to the B.C. School Superintendents’ Association for parent workshops called “Raising Digitally Responsible Learners.” The program was introduced in a pilot project with 120 parents last year.

Parents and students can find bullying prevention resources and an anonymous online reporting service at www.erasebullying.ca.

The education ministry is providing another $35,000 to the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils to develop online videos for B.C.’s new SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) curriculum.

“We need to keep our children safe from cyberbullying and intolerance in schools, in the community and at home,” said Jen Mezei, president of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. “The social media presentations and SOGI resources will help parents have frank, open and informed conversations with their children, to teach them how to accept others, so we are all treated with mutual dignity and respect.”

Statistics Canada estimates that 19 per cent of Canadian children have experienced cyberbullying or stalking online.

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