Some unexpected common ground

James Herriot once said that he could do terrible things to people who abandon their pets by the side of the road.   As a mother and an aunt and a grandmother, I have always thought that it would be safe to extend that promise to the children under our watch, eh?

After all, are we not supposed to pull out all the stops to protect our children?   Should we not be prepared to strike fear into those who would do them harm?

Even ten years ago, I would have said a big fat Yes to that!   Of course that was before the Facebook burst upon our collective consciousness!    Before children who cannot do their own laundry became capable of crafting multiple online identities!   And long, long before cyberbullying became a mainstream word!

To be perfectly honest, I never, ever expected to agree with Stephen Harper on any subject!    Like half the rest of the country, I was horrified by last years Omnibus Budget Bill!    It was clear … and very offensive … from the start that under his watch the seasonal workers that are the backbone of our food supply system were going to be targeted instead of sorting out the whole foreign worker subsidy system that allows companies operating in Canada to bypass qualified Canadians!    Saddest of all of course is the utter disregard displayed by his government for environmental issues!

But I am wandering afield as I often do in my meandering way!   The point I am trying to make here is that I HAVE found a little bit of common ground with our Prime Minister!   Before you choke on your coffee, I am referring to his statement that this weeks tragedy “goes beyond bullying.”

I think we’ve got to stop using just the term bullying to describe some of these things. Bullying to me has a kind of connotation … of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity. It is youth criminal activity, it is violent criminal activity, it is sexual criminal activity and it is often internet criminal activity,” said Harper.

Now here is where some folks are going to want to throw things at their computer screens!    Unlike our local gendarmes, I do not see this week’s involvement of Anonymous as a bad thing!  Why?    For one very simple reason!    They were willing and able to what no police or teacher had done in the past ….. encourage teenagers to tell the tale!  In other words, Anonymous ripped the lid off Pandora’s box!

Sentiments are running high right now … and names which may or may not be the right ones are floating around Facebook and twitter.   Even if they are the right names, what would happen if vigilante justice stepped in?

Why of course all the OTHERS who are equally guilty would still skip off scott free!   Each and every person who shared pictures and harried my friend’s daughter into the grave would never, ever face any consequences for their actions.

Nor, I might add, would the rapists ever wind up going to court if they were seriously harmed!    The only ones in handcuffs then would the folks who took justice into their own hands!

At the end of the day, that is not the way to stop cyberbullying!      It would be more to the point for the justice system to follow the cyber bread crumbs and charge those responsible with harassment at the very least!    If they are not sure how to do that, they could always ask Anonymous for a tutorial, eh?

What time is it?   It is way past time to treat cyberbullying as an adult criminal offence!     Why?    Until cyberbullies start showing in the news in handcuffs, our children will continue to be put in harm’s way every single day they set foot in our schools!

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