“It’s a whole new techie world and it’s moving too fast and we’re not keeping on top of it,” said Any Lou Somers, executive director of the East Prince Women’s Information Centre (EPWIC). “We need to get a handle and find out where we can best serve to deal with it.”
No truer words have been spoken.
Cyberbullying, particularly against young women and girls, but also men and boys, is reaching epidemic proportions and it’s time to put a stop to it.
It is the most cowardly form of abuse – a faceless crime - because it can be done anonymously through cyberspace, making it that much more difficult to deal with.
While catching the abusers may be a bit of a pipe dream, educating the public, especially young women and girls, on how not to become a victim, is not.
For the past three years, EPWIC has been involved in co-ordinating workshops, including those presented by Nancy Beth Guptill, Sweet Spot Marketing.
Over 20 workshops have been done in the schools across the Island, for parents, guardians and service providers on cybersafety. After each session they came to the disturbing realization that there is much work to do in this area.
Somers has spearheaded an initiative that last week received $173,338 from the federal government to respond to cyberbullying.
EPWIC’s plan involves a partnership, a needs assessment, knowledge sharing and then a strategy to deal with cyberviolence.
The partnerships within the community and across the Island have been set up and now comes the work to conduct a needs assessment and determine what strategies have worked in dealing with cyberviolence and which ones have not. This will lead to consultation with the partners and eventually a strategy to combat this crime.
Somers’ program has merit to it. She’s correct when she says that awareness, education, and a community response to cyberviolence are the way to go.
A point of concern, however, is that the EPWIC program is only being funded for two years. That’s when the federal dollars run out.
Somers knows this and is already trying to line up support to extend the program far beyond the two-year federal commitment.
The province and every town, municipality and incorporated area that has a fiscal budget, needs to come on board.
Businesses, corporations and social organizations have to become involved and help keep this program alive.
The costs of not being involved are far too devastating.