Rehtaeh Parsons cyberbullying report calls for hospital review
Cyberbullying expert says more action needed to help young people after Halifax teen's death
A review of how the Halifax Regional School Board handled events leading up to the death of Rehtaeh Parsons, the teenager who took her life in April after she was cyberbullied, is recommending an external review of the Halifax hospital where she was a patient for five weeks after she had a breakdown and became suicidal.
"Rehtaeh was a young woman of great promise whose needs were not met," read the documents.
Ontario-based education experts Debra Pepler and Penny Milton took less than a month to explore 10 questions about anti-bullying programs in Nova Scotia following the death of the 17-year-old.
Rehtaeh's parents say she was raped by four boys at a party a year-and-a-half ago where she was drunk. A picture of the alleged assault was circulated at her school and in social media.
Rehtaeh Parsons’s father said his daughter was strip-searched by two men while receiving treatment in 2012 at the IWK Health Centre. The IWK denies the allegations.
"Whereas this recommendation was just made today, we don’t yet have the details about how the review will be done or by whom," said IWK spokesman Nick Cox.
"The IWK welcomes the opportunity to work with the government on this review."
The panellists spoke with teachers, police and students, but didn’t seek out Rehtaeh’s friends or teachers.
The report traced Rehtaeh’s history throughout the school system. She transferred from Cole Harbour District High School, to Dartmouth High School, to Prince Andrew High School to Citadel High School.
It recommended the Halifax school board clarify the transfer approval process between schools to stamp out any inconsistencies between policy and practices.
While outlining the scope of their report, Pepler and Milton said in May they would not be punitive.
"Something dramatic and traumatic occurred at a party in November 2011 involving Rehtaeh. This is not the subject of our review," read the document.
The province already released a cyberbullying task force report with 85 recommendations. It took a year to complete.
Improving services for young people a goal
Task force chair Wayne Mackay, a Dalhousie University professor, said many of the recommendations have not been implemented.
He said people want action, not more study, "by way of implementing existing recommendations from the task force as well as whatever may come out of this independent review."
The Nova Scotia government said this new report will help the province improve services for young people.
Some three weeks after Rehtaeh’s death, the Nova Scotia government introduced legislation to create Canada's first cyberbullying investigative unit.
The legislation will allow victims and their families to get protection orders from a court if they are being harassed online.
Rehtaeh's death sparked national outrage and prompted the Nova Scotia government to launch a review of the RCMP's original investigation into the case.
The Mounties initially said there wasn't enough evidence to lay charges in the matter, but they reopened their investigation following the teen's death after receiving new information.
With files from The Canadian Press