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Harper in city today for roundtable on cyberbullying

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be in Winnipeg today for meetings with families of victims of cyberbullying as the government works to address the problem with amendments to the Criminal Code.

Harper will attend a roundtable at the Delta Hotel downtown along with Manitoba regional minister and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. The meeting is being hosted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection and will include family members of at least four cyberbullying victims, including Rehteah Parsons, Amanda Todd, Jenna Bowers-Bryanton and Kimberly Proctor.

Parsons, 17, died last month after hanging herself at her home in Nova Scotia.

Her family says she suffered from years of harassment from schoolmates after she was raped by four boys at a party and an image from the attack was circulated online by one of her attackers.

Her parents want the government to ban the distribution of intimate images online. They met with Harper and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson last month to discuss the issue.

Harper said at the time he was "sickened" by the case and said there are times when bullying is no longer just bullying but a crime.

The federal and provincial governments have been working to find the gaps in the Criminal Code to address cyberbullying since the suicide last fall of 15-year-old Todd. She was bullied for years online and in person and made a haunting video telling her story before she took her own life.

Following Parsons’ death, Nicholson said the review will be expedited.

Bowers-Bryanton, 15, killed herself in January 2011, after being bullied relentlessly online.

Proctor was 16 when she was brutally assaulted and murdered by two teenage boys in Victoria. She had been bullied by others and was lured to her death by the boys, who promised to explain to her why they had been cruel to her.

Also attending the roundtable will be former NHL star Sheldon Kennedy, now an advocate for victims of child abuse, and representatives from Kids Help Phone and PREVNet, a national research network on bullying.

 

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

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