Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. Cyberbullying involved minors on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is cyber-harassment or cyberstalking.
Cyberbullying is a crime
Some forms of online bullying are considered criminal acts. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it’s a crime to communicate repeatedly with someone if your communication causes them to fear for their own safety or the safety of others. It's also a crime to publish a "defamatory libel" - writing something that is designed to insult a person or is likely to injure a person's reputation by exposing him or her to hatred, contempt or ridicule.
A cyberbully may also be violating the Canadian Human Rights Act if he or she spreads hate or discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or disability.
How to report cyberbullying
Call 9-1-1 for any crimes in progress or urgent circumstances.
Cyberbullying resources for parents
Additional cyberbullying resources
- MediaSmarts: A Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy. Our vision is that children and youth have the critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.
- StopCyberBullying.org: An interactive website part of WiredKids Inc.
- Cyberbullying.ca: A resource site for teachers, parents and students (only available in English).
- Canadian Teachers’ Federation: Offers resources for teachers and parents on this issue.
- CYBER-DILEMMAS: Gendered Hierarchies, Free Expression and Cyber-Safety in Schools.
- Kids Help Phone: Every day, Kids Help Phone and Parent Help Line counselors answer calls from across Canada. No matter what the problem or concern is, our counsellors are there to provide support, information and, if necessary, referral to a local community or social service agency.
- BeWebAware: A national, bilingual public education program on Internet safety. The initiative was developed and supported by MediaSmarts, Bell and Microsoft Canada.
- Cybertip.ca: Canada's tipline for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children.