OTTAWA ? A young backbench New Democrat is calling on the Commons today to help prevent bullying, saying that the federal government must show leadership on this ?nationwide problem.?
Dany Morin, 26, said that his own experiences from being bullied as a teen show the ?scars are permanent? and something must be done.
?It is a nationwide problem and only growing with time,? Morin told reporters before beginning debate on his motion in the House of Commons Monday.
?With cyber bullying, it has gotten to a breaking point.?
The motion calls on the Commons to create a non-partisan, special committee to quickly study and come up with concrete ideas to help prevent and help those victimized by a bully either in the schoolyard or online.
Morin said he wanted the committee to look at best practices from other countries to develop any future strategy.
Although Morin first proposed the motion in late May, it came up for debate Monday in the Commons, days after B.C. teen Amanda Todd died by suicide after being tormented by bullies in her school and online. Her story has made headlines across the country and around the world because of the video she posted online weeks before she ended her life.
The issue of bullying and cyber bullying has floated around Parliament Hill for much of 2012. In April, Liberal health critic Hedy Fry?s private member?s bill seeking to add cyber bullying to the Criminal Code passed second reading, but has not yet gone to third reading.
And at the end of October, a Senate committee will release the results of a study on cyber bullying in Canada. It is expected to target young people
During debate, Conservative MP Candice Bergen said the government wanted to know more about how the proposed committee would not duplicate efforts in the Senate or the Commons committee reviewing Fry?s bill.
?It is time for action,? Bergen said. ?This Parliament has not one, but two committees looking at bullying.?
Bergen said the government has invested in local initiatives to help schools and groups develop programs that best fit their local circumstances.
During debate, Fry said the Liberals would support the motion, but didn?t feel that the terms of reference for the committee went far enough. She said there shouldn?t just be a focus on prevention.
?Eventually, we have to look at consequences. Some of those consequences may or may not be in the Criminal Code,? Fry said.
?We do believe we need to take this seriously,? she said. ?It?s time we put an end to this.?
Anti-bullying groups, such as bullying.org, estimate that Canadian high schools experience 282,000 incidents of bullying per month. Some of those incidents have led to the suicide of teens.
While bullying in the past has been through verbal, physical or social abuse on the playground or in school, cyber bullying takes it into the digital realm, through email, text messages or social media.
Girls are more likely to be sexually harassed online, whereas boys are more likely to be bullied by name calling or being threatened.
A University of British Columbia study, released April, found about 30 per cent of 17,000 Grade 8 to 12 students in Vancouver experienced or took part in cyber bullying. However, the study also found 95 per cent of what was labelled ?cyber bullying? was intended as a joke.