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Primus and PREVNet launch Canada's first e-learning program to proactively reduce online bullying

Cyberbullying is the top concern for almost half of Canadian parents, yet the majority are unprepared to protect their children

TORONTO, NOV 10, 2015 – To help kick off Bullying Awareness Week (November 15-21), Primus Telecommunications (Primus) has partnered with PREVNet, the country’s leading authority on bullying prevention, to launch Canada’s first e-learning program to help parents and youth confront online bullying. Developed in response to high levels of concern among parents across the country, CyberGuard – Cyberbullying Truth, Tips and Tactics features practical tools to proactively address the issue and reduce the incidence of cyberbullying.

“This unique new resource is a much-needed tool to provide adults with the knowledge, skills and confidence to tackle this important issue and drive positive action,” says Dr. Wendy Craig, Scientific Co-Director, PREVNet, a national network of scientists and organizations that serve youth, focused on education, assessment, intervention and policy to stop bullying and create safe environments for children.

Now available at www.primus.ca/cyberbullying, this comprehensive e-learning program includes engaging, hands-on modules to prompt conversations among adults and youth, activities to be completed together and quizzes to test knowledge and debunk myths. The program is the result of a multi-year partnership between Primus and PREVNet to address cyberbullying, which has included awareness campaigns and the introduction of online safety resources.

“It’s definitely the right time for this e-learning tool, since our research shows that online safety is a top concern for parents, yet most of them are unsure when and how to deal with the issue,” says Brad Fisher, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Product, Primus. “We see that 89 per cent of parents are waiting until their child tells them about a cyberbullying incident, but only 8 per cent of teens have indicated they would do so. Parents need to be proactive in addressing online bullying, and Primus, as Canada’s leading independent ISP, wants to help families overcome this communication barrier.”

Fisher adds that a 2014 Leger study conducted on behalf of Primus uncovered key findings regarding parents’ high levels of anxiety about the risks cyberbullying pose to their family:

  • More parents are concerned with cyberbullying (48 per cent) than about teen pregnancy (44 per cent), drug use (40 per cent) or alcohol use (38 per cent).
  • The majority of parents (81 per cent) feel that they are most responsible for protecting their children from cyberbullying.
  • Half of parents (52 per cent) are concerned their child could be cyberbullying others.
  • Parents acknowledge that their children often have ready access to the Internet, via the family computer (73 per cent), personal computer (40 per cent), personal tablet (31 per cent) or personal cell phone with a data plan (26 per cent).
  • One in five parents (16 per cent) admit to knowing their ‘underage’ children between the ages of eight and 10 have Facebook accounts despite a 13-year age minimum in place for having an account.

However, the Leger data also reveal that parents are not well prepared to pro-actively address their concerns, since:

  • 89 per cent of parents feel their children would tell them if they were being cyberbullied.
  • Just 42 per cent of parents restrict the amount of time their children spend online each day.
  • Only 35 per cent of parents have spoken with their children about the dangers of online bullying by age eight.
  • Only 34 per cent of parents regularly ask their children questions about cyberbullying.
  • One in five parents admit to making questionable online actions themselves, such as sharing intimate photos or messages online or via text.

“These studies show how parents must improve their prevention skills, since you definitely can’t wait until a problem arises or hope that it won’t affect your family,” says Dr. Craig, who will speak at PREVNet’s Promoting Mental Health/Preventing Bullying conference in Toronto on November 13, 2015. She notes that, up to 40 per cent of youth today are targets of cyberbullying, and another 35 per cent participate in bullying others. “It’s important that parents start the conversation early with children, since we know that 25 per cent of youth have a cell phone by grade four and children go online as early as age two.”

“These insights shaped CyberGuard – Cyberbullying Truth, Tips and Tactics, and we have included very practical tips, tools and strategies to help parents face the critical issue in partnerhship with their children,” explains Dr. Craig. “Our learning modules reassure parents that, even though they may not be social media experts, parents have the necessary life experiences to empathize and help their children prevent or resolve online conflict and bullying.”

Fisher concludes that, although cyberbullying may be a daunting topic for adults, this new e-learning resource can help parents prepare their kids for the challenges of a technology-driven future: “Since technology is such a powerful force in our daily lives, we must help youth develop the right ‘social technology skills,’ so they can interact with others in a positive way. These are critical life skills for anyone in today’s highly-connected, digital world.”

About PREVNet
PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) is an umbrella network of 79 leading Canadian research scientists and 55 national youth-serving organizations with a mission to stop bullying in Canada and to promote safe and healthy relationships for all Canadian children and youth. Created and led by Scientific Co-Directors, Dr. Debra Pepler of York University and Dr. Wendy Craig of Queen’s University, this national network provides an unprecedented opportunity to change the way we understand children’s relationships and deal with bullying problems in this country.

About Primus Telecommunications Canada Inc.
Primus is the largest alternative independent telecommunications service provider in Canada. Primus offers a wide selection of consumer and business telecommunications services available nationwide including Home Phone, Internet, Long Distance, VoIP, Enterprise IP Voice Solutions, Hosted Phone Systems, (Hosted PBX), Dedicated Data Access and IP connectivity solutions. In the United States, Primus provides reliable and affordable digital home phone (VoIP) service under the Lingo brand. Primus was founded in 1997 and has over 600 employees located in offices across Canada including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, London and Edmundston. For further information, visit primus.ca.

For further information please contact:
Heather McCulligh
Broad Reach Communications