The intensity and the relentless form the sexual exploitation took in the Manitoba case is reminiscent of two other high-profile cyberbullying cases in Canada.
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old student from Port Coquitlam, B.C. who took her life in 2012, two years after she was lured into exposing her breasts to a chat-room web cam. A screen capture of the image was posted to a porn site, circulated to her Facebook friends, to teachers at her school and used in blackmail threats. RCMP announced charges against a Dutch man in the case in April.
A 17-year-old Nova Scotia student took her life in 2013 following months of bullying, after photos of her alleged assault circulated online.
In response, the Nova Scotia government introduced the Cyber-Safety Act. It allows people to sue cyberbullies if they or their children are exploited.
Last month, her parents established an organization to address the prevalence of cyberbullying, youth sexual violence and the distribution of images among young people.
Ottawa's anti-cyberbullying legislation was unveiled a year ago. But Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, has drawn fire for several surveillance powers it contains. It allows police to seek court orders for information, such as online records and bank account details, with too little evidence to back up the powers, critics and privacy experts say.
Recent reports show at least 37 per cent of students admit someone has said or done something cruel to them online.
At home, parents can help their kids before they run into trouble with some key strategies:
-- Stress kids cut off contact with anyone online who tries to extort or threaten them in any way.
-- Emphasize the importance of personal boundaries.
-- Tell kids if they are too embarrassed to discuss specific online encounters with Mom or Dad, they identify a safe adult ahead of time to turn to.
-- Review safe strategies with teens to get out of uncomfortable situations, from a direct "no way" to excuses they can offer.
"Parents can't know everything that could be engaging their kids online so they have to set them up with strategies ahead of time," said Signy Arnason, director of Cybertips.ca.
Cypertips.ca is part of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a national charitable organization dedicated to the personal safety of children.
The following website is full of specific strategies designed to protect kids from bullying, cyberbullying and online sexual exploitation: safekids.com/bullying-cyberbullying-resources/
-- Alexandra Paul