2014
Annual General Meeting

Stand up to cyberbullies, says Cornwall CTC guest speaker

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 by Lois Ann Baker
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The loss of a child is a tragic event, made only more devastating when it is by their own hand.

This is what Glen Canning has been dealing with. Everyone has heard the name Rehteah Parsons. She is the Nova Scotia teen who had pictures of her being raped splashed over social media, leading her to make the painful decision to end her own life after she could not take the taunting and bullying anymore. She is Canning's daughter.

Canning was in Cornwall Tuesday night as a guest speaker for the Children's Treatment Centre's annual general meeting to speak about his loss and how he is trying to make sure this doesn't happen to another child.

"I was invited here by Angelo (Towndale) for the Children's Treatment Centre," said Canning. "He wanted me to talk because the issues are relevant to the centre."

Canning was able to relay some of the positive changes he has seen since going public with his daughter's story, like Bill C13.

"Bill C13 is protecting Canadians from online crime," he said. "It's still pending legislation right now, but the biggest part of it is the distribution of intimate images." If passed, the Bill will make it illegal for anyone to share any picture that is embarrassing or compromising in some way or would embarrass the person in the picture.

"They can't share that. They can't go spreading that around to destroy you," said Canning. "That's what happened to Rehteah. In her case, they took a photograph of one of them having sex with her while she was unconscious. They spread it all over her school."

Canning said the family tried to get the police to do something about it, but were unsuccessful.

"They were pretty consistently refusing to because they said it wasn't against the law," he said. "That is just inexcusable to us and leaves us very confused."

When the police reopened the case, the suspects were charged with distributing child porn, and Canning questioned why they didn't do this in the first place.

"Everything that has happened with this case has been confusing," he said.

Still, Canning has seen some good come of his heartache.

"In Newmarket, a young lady had a Facebook page made up about her encouraging her to go and kill herself because she was ugly," said Canning. "Other girls in the school mentioned they knew how upsetting and damaging that was because of Rehteah Parsons."

Canning said the girls then complained to the school and the police and they let the girl know she was loved and welcome in the school.

"Rather than just leave it alone because it wasn't affecting them, it seems there is a bit of a shift now where bystanders are knowing they have a very vital role," said Canning. "These girls in Newmarket stood up and said they weren't going to let this person be bullied like that."

Canning said he often hears from parents whose children saw bullying at school and they have stepped up to do something about it.

"There are a lot of schools having this conversation (about bullying) right now," said Canning. "We've begun to accept it is not some right of passage. It's not just something kids go through or do to each other. The technology is deadly and they use it."