Changes coming to N.B. school systems to better address cyber sexual harassment

Click to play video: 'Calls for better sexual harassment education in New Brunswick schools'
Calls for better sexual harassment education in New Brunswick schools
Changes are on their way to sex education curriculums in New Brunswick, in both the Francophone and Anglophone school districts. As Suzanne Lapointe reports, one advocate says better education regarding online sexual harassment is very much needed. – Apr 28, 2022

The manager of the Southeastern Sexual Assault Center, a group that works with survivors of sexual assault in Southeastern New Brunswick, believes there has been an increase in sexual violence perpetrated online throughout the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of cyber violence, sexual violence online, sexual harassment, it’s something that we do see a lot of,` Jessica Gallant said on Thursday.

For the past two and a half years, teenagers have been turning to social media more than ever before due to pandemic related restrictions and online schooling.

Gallant, who gives presentations on this topic in schools, believes many young people lack proper education on how to navigate issues of consent as it relates to the Internet.

`The education component of it is maybe not as stressed as we’d like,” she said.

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She also said there have been some recent cases of sextortion, meaning sexual coersion online, in the region, which can start by sending intimate pictures or videos to someone a young person may have met online.

“Taking screenshots is really easy. So something that they may not think is gonna be forever on the Internet, is and now is gonna be accessible to so many people,” she said.

She also brought attention to the prevalence of cyber harassment.

“It’s easy to cyber-harass people especially with how easy it is to create different accounts. Like I could go to an app and create 15 accounts in the span of two minutes if I wanted to, so it’s easy to pick one person and constantly try to harass them or message them. It’s something you can’t really escape.”

Changes are coming in New Brunswick’s school systems to better address these issues.

In a written statement provided to Global News on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development said the Personal Wellness Curriculum, through which issues like cyberbullying and consent taught in the anglophone school system, is in the process of being updated for the first time since 2016.

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While some teachers are already able to access the new curriculum, it won’t be taught in schools until September 2022 for grades 6 and 7, September 2023 for grade 8 and the fall of the following year for grade 9 students.

Changes are also being evaluated in the francophone school system.

Though details on the updated curriculums are scarce, Gallant is pleased to hear of the upcoming changes.

“That education should start as soon as it’s appropriate to start that as soon as they receive a cellphone or an iPad.”

Click to play video: 'How to spot and avoid common cyber scams'
How to spot and avoid common cyber scams

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