News / Halifax

'This is another tool that can help:' Rehtaeh Parsons' mother on new cyberbullying act

The Liberal government plans to pass the bill in the spring.

Leah Parsons.

Jeff Harper/Metro / Halifax Staff

Leah Parsons.

The mother of Rehtaeh Parsons is calling the new Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act introduced by the province on Thursday “very strongly needed.”

“There are a lot of people out there right now who aren’t feeling very safe with recourse and what do we do when this happens, because there’s not a lot they can do right now,” Leah Parsons said in an interview.

“This is another tool that can help them lead the way towards making amends, getting whatever (images) taken down.”

Parsons lost Rehtaeh, 17, following months of bullying related to an explicit photo of her and a boy that was shared around her high school. 

The Cole Harbour teen’s death by suicide inspired a cyberbullying law that was struck down by the Supreme Court in December, 2015. The new act attempts to address the court’s ruling that the definition of cyberbullying in the previous act was too broad.

“I think what was nice to see is that they narrowed down the definition to causing harm. It’s more likely it will stick in a court of law,” Parsons said.

Parsons said Rehtaeh wouldn’t want others to suffer as she did and would have been happy with the legislation.

“She was desperate for anything that would help her…She just wanted to be validated and she wanted the photo gone. The photo circulated for 17 months,” Parsons said.

“It was never dealt with even right up to the day she died, so to be validated and to know that you don’t have something haunting you everywhere you turn? That’s huge. Even for an adult, let alone a child.”

The province plans to pass the bill in the spring. Parsons said while she understands the need to get further input and “tighten it up,” she hopes it happens soon.

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