N.S. mom pleads for tougher cyberbullying laws
Police say latest cyberbullying suspect 'laughing in our faces'
The mother of 15-year-old girl, who committed suicide last year after being bullied, implored the Nova Scotia government to strengthen its proposed legislation to combat cyberbullying.
Pam Murchison's daughter, Jenna Bowers, took her own life on Jan. 17, 2011 after being harassed at school and through a social networking site.
"Two weeks ago today, a young person went on the computer and professed to be the cause of my daughter's death," Murchison said in an emotional appeal to the legislature's law amendments committee.
"It was like I lost her all over again."
In recent weeks, a person on Facebook has purported to be the leader of a group called Libya Torial that allegedly drove three Nova Scotia girls to kill themselves. Jenna was one of the girls named as targets, as were Courtney Brown and a third girl — all of them committed suicide last year.
"The events that happened last week should slap everybody in this room in the face," Murchison said Thursday.
"Everyone should have to feel what I felt all over again."
The bill being reviewed — the anti-bullying law — would require schools to collect and monitor data before the government comes out with specific measures to deal with bullying.
There's no time frame on when that may happen.
Officer says it's a 'disgraceful situation'
Const. Todd Taylor, with the Truro Police Service, expressed his frustration in dealing with the unnamed suspect in Jenna's case.
"He's laughing in our faces. This is a serious issue and if nothing changes, nothing changes," Taylor told the committee.
"He is the party responsible for Jenna's feelings that led to her taking her own life. He's admitted this. The disgraceful situation that we find ourselves in now, is that the investigative results are likely to be identical to what they were a year ago."
Taylor said while research and tracking are important, officers don't have the tools to address the problem.
He said the bill should at least include a provision to allow police and internet service companies to develop a protocol through which police can access information during the investigation of bullying cases.
"I saw nothing, heard nothing in the bill that addresses the concerns that Nova Scotia families have today," Taylor said.
The Opposition Liberals have proposed changes to the bill including a provision to require school boards to immediately notify internet service and cellphone companies in instances where bullying has occurred.
The Progressive Conservatives have tabled their own legislation that would define cyberbullying in law and allow a series of fines to be levied, among other measures.
It would also hold parents liable if they are aware that a child is involved in online bullying and they don't try to prevent it.
With files from The Canadian Press