An interesting precedent may have been set this week, perhaps not in strict legal terms but rather in a practical sense, when a Canadian judge declined to follow the recommendation of the prosecutor and refused to impose a social media ban on a teen convicted of a series of bullying offenses. Instead, the judge ordered that her probation officer monitor her social media activities closely over the course of her sentence.
In the incident in question, the bully pleaded guilty to sucker punching another student and posting the video to Facebook.
According to an article in the publication Metro, the judge was sensitive to the central role that social media plays in young people’s lives:
“I have given great consideration to what was recommended by the Crown and I am aware of the importance social media has for young people today,” said the judge
While it is disappointing to say the least to see bullying videos posted to social media, which is in itself a form of cyberbullying, the fact that the judge stopped short of a total social media ban could set a lasting tone. The defense attorney commented that such a ban would amount to a “modern day shunning”.
Based on the comments that follow the above articles, it appears as though many favored a more serious sentence including a ban, but there may be something else at play here. The judge probably knows that all someone needs to set up a new social media identity is a new email address, which can be obtained in a matter of minutes. A total ban may have left the accused no option but to set up new, pseudonymous accounts. There is no guarantee, but supervised access may be a compromise that works in this situation.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.