AMHERST – Policies to address bullying are a work in progress, according to the Amherst Police Department’s crime prevention officer, Const. Tom Wood. But while an overarching provincial strategy hasn’t been set in stone, at least one incremental step gets a thumbs up from the policeman.
“It’s a good little piece,” said Wood of the one-page information sheet cellphone sellers will be required to give to underage purchasers in Nova Scotia when they buy a phone.
The sheet, introduced March 27, instructs users on how to be “good digital citizens,” according to a government press release.
Wood said it contains useful tidbits for young people – information he said they may not be aware of – including what to do if you’re a victim of cyberbullying.
The policeman acknowledged it’s just one part of a large puzzle. It’s a challenge for laws to keep pace with technological change. Police are working with schools, he said, to try to provide support to kids.
The old ‘sticks and stones’ adage no longer holds true, according to Wood. Taunting and words can be as bad as physical attacks. He pointed to suicides in Nova Scotia related to bullying.
Telling kids to evade bullying by avoiding technology is asking them to give away part of their lives, according to Wood. They feel more connected texting than talking, he said.
Wood called bullying a top provincial priority and a top priority for the police department.
“It’s still adaption,” he said of the effort.
The hope he expressed was that a multi-pronged attempt to reach young people will help, even if it’s just a couple of kids at a time.
“Cyberbullying is just a new medium for an old problem,” said Education Minister Ramon Jennex in a written statement.
“It’s important to know how to be good digital citizens who understand and take responsibility for how our decisions and behaviours affect others in the digital world.”