Kellie Leitch, Status of Women Minister, announced that $1.1 million has been allocated to fund eight programs dealing with cyberviolence against women and girls. Last month, another $25 million was committed over a five-year period to combat violence against Aboriginal women and girls. No funding has been committed to address cyberviolence against men and boys, who are just as susceptible as being victims as women and girls.
There has been a lot of heightened attention to cyberviolence since Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide after being bullied on the Internet. According to research led by Dr. Sarah Pedersen in the UK, boys are more subject to cyberbullying—so it’s not just a girls’ thing: “In the sample more adolescent males admitted to both having been bullied (68 percent) and carrying out bullying behaviour on-line (50 percent) compared to adolescent females (percent and 49 and 33 percent respectively).”
During the Toronto DV Symposium this past June in Toronto, PhDs and scholars discussed the lack of attention to issues such as domestic violence as it affects men and boys. Professor Martin S. Fiebert, the keynote speaker, asked that the mainstream media report the science: that men and women are equally responsible for domestic violence.
A common trend and norm that seems to be thriving is that only women and girls are victims, while men and boys are not. Instead, men and boys are routinely considered the problem. The office of the Honourable Kellie Leitch acknowledged that women can be just as culpable to violence as men. They also wondered why there is no minister and ministry for the status of men. The fact that eight men to two women commit suicide in Canada each day is another ignored issue facing men.
Clearly by the lack of program funding to combat violence against men and boys, the Government of Canada is interested in helping only female victims of cyber-violence while ignoring the needs of male victims.
Stop a Bully, a Canadian registered national charity founded by Trevor Knowlton in 2009, has published bullying statistics that show it is not just females who are bullied, but also males, according to a 2011 Ipsos Reid survey of 416 Canadian teenagers:
– 1 in 5 Canadian teens have witnessed online bullying
– 25% of kids between 12 and 15 have witnessed cyberbullying
– 25% of girls and 17% of boys have witnessed online harassment
– 51% of all teens have had a negative experience with social networking
– 16% said someone posted an embarrassing photo of them
– 12% said someone hacked their account
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms forbids gender discrimination. Is the Government of Canada guilty of violating the Charter by not providing equal funding and protection against cyberviolence to males and females? Canadians should ask themselves, “Why are men and boys not treated equally to women and girls, where gender equality is the expected norm?”
You can contact Status of Women Kellie Leitch at Kellie.Leitch@parl.gc.ca.