In the growing age of social media, there are many ways in which inappropriate comments and images can make their way onto the Internet.
To address the issue of cyberbullying, the Nova Scotia government hired five full-time investigators to look into cyberbullying complaints across the province.
The CyberSCAN investigation unit, created in September 2013, is the first of its kind in Canada, and those involved in the unit say their first year has been a busy one.
“It’s been very busy, probably busier than we’ve expected,” says Fred Sanford, the director of policing services. “To date we’ve received in the area of 300 complaints related to cyberbullying.”
While investigators are surprised by the number of complaints being made, they are also surprised by who is making them.
When the unit first opened, staff suspected most complaints would come from youth. However, investigators say they are hearing from people of all ages, both men and women.
“Some are Facebook postings, some are related to emails that are sent directly, some are posted pictures on various websites,” says Sanford.
Wednesday morning, a 25-year-old woman called RCMP in the Halifax area to file a complaint about a photo of herself she saw posted online.
“She had received notification that there was some disturbing correspondence and a photo on a social media site,” says Cpl. Greg Church.
RCMP will now investigate to determine whether the content is criminal. If not, the woman can take her complaint to the CyberSCAN unit.
The unit has only taken a complaint to court once for a cyber-safety order, and the case was successful. All other cases were resolved through education or informal means.
As for getting content taken down, experts say it depends on where it has been posted, which is why it’s important to practice Internet safety on the front end.
“Don’t post any personal information or pictures on the web, ensure any devices you use to access the web has the proper security settings and you utilize them,” suggests Sanford.
He also says inappropriate pictures and comments should be reported.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster