Sunday, January 19, 2014

The StopCyberbullying Canada Youth Community Action Plan - Mission and Values (the baseline)

It was interesting to see the young people address our mission and guiding principles/values. We asked thousands of young people on Prince Edward Island and over 50,000 from across North America, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, Central America, Australia, Ireland and otherglobal locations if they could do anything to stop cyberbullying what they would want to do, what is would look like and how they would set standards.

We had a broad list of things that jumbled together missions, values, goals, action items and guiding principles.We reviewed other cyberbullying-related action plans by governmental agencies, such as Nova Scotia's and Ireland's and looked at guidance documents on the issues from teachers' associations and leading digital literacy experts. We pulled together everything we have written, published and created for StopCyberbullying, too. That was the easy part.

Then, we built an action plan working group of young people (4th - 12 grade) from Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, First Nation and newcomers groups, adults from across Canada representing government, education, health and wellness, innovation, law, law enforcement, the digital industry, small businesses, researchers and faith-based groups. We also involved victim's rights and assistance experts and families of the most well-known Canadian bullycides. And finally, we turned to the leading experts in the field to help weigh in and contribute to the process and planning.

With as many in the room as we could fit, we took the draft planning and, working with a local facilitator, hammered out the mission,  principles, goals and values. That took almost 2-1/2 hours to get the language right and make sure the young participants were on board. For the most part, the facilitation proceeded as it does with large corporate brainstorming and advisory boards. But with all the young people, we had to place the brainstorming sheets lower do they could reach. And we had to define words like "stakeholders," "community" and "sustainability."

In the early hours, the conversation was more vibrant and, in some cases, more heated. As we tired and the young participants' blood sugar declined (until we revived them with pizza), we all became glassy-eyed. The values, goals, principles and mission were finalized, in language the young people approved. The actual action plan, where the steps were described, was approved, but they relied on adults working on the language to formalize it.

Unfortunately, given our upcoming presentation to the Premier, that task fell on me. Notwithstanding all the well-meaning guidance to remove words such as "lexicon" and "stakeholders" I fell into the common rut that most lawyers, even those writing for consumer audiences, fall into, such as using jargon, longer phrases to say simple things and US spelling, especially when referring to best practices, standards, procedures, etc.

Once exams are over next week, the young participants have promised to rewrite it in their own words. (Although I have little faith in their spelling. :-))

Their mission, goals, values and guiding principles, in their facilitated own words appears below:

StopCyberbullying Canada’s Youth Community Action Plan

StopCyberbullying Canada’s Vision

All young people being able to use digital technology free from fear of cyberbullying, personal attacks, threats, impersonation and other forms of digital harassment.

StopCyberbullying Canada’s Mission

SCB Canada will empower youth and engage our society to identify, prevent, and address all forms of cyberbullying and digital harassment, including personal attacks, threats and impersonations.

Values and Guiding Principles

StopCyberbullying Canada will operate and collaborate consistently with the follow values and guiding principles. StopCyberbullying Canada and its programs and partners will, or will be:

Collaborative – providing multi-stakeholder engagement, using subject matter experts, relevant NGOs, industry members, media, health and wellness, educational institution, faith-based and governmental agencies and grassroots community delivery.

Build on Existing Strengths – whenever possible, avoiding reinvention of the wheel, by using existing programs and protocols that meet our standards and effectively address related and common issues.

Innovative – whenever possible, using innovative approaches and the power of digital technology to address the issues, identify new solutions and more broadly distribute the messaging and programs, while not ignoring those without or with limited digital access.

Inclusive – ensuring that all relevant diversity groups feel welcomed, are included in the process and their needs considered, including, but not limited to those part of First Nation, multicultural, religious, national origin, ethnics, gender, special needs, lower-income, sexual preference and newcomer groups.

Positive – while focusing on the problems and negative impact of cyberbullying and digital harassment  is inevitable, whenever possible, we must emphasize the positive actions of ourselves and others in addressing our mission as well as the benefits of digital technologies.

Sustainable – capable of self-sustainability through cause-based business models within 4 years

Youth-Led and Approved – young people (8-18) in Canada should be actively involved at all stages and develop, guide or approve all programs and approaches.

Universal – programs and resources must be relevant across all of Canada as well as regionally and address the mission in a holistic way using, when applicable, all popular technology formats and be applicable to the broad range of social media, digital communications tools, MMOG and user-generated-content platforms where the bulk of cyberbullying is conducted.

Relevant – guided by identified and realistic needs assessments with reasonable measurable goals, using best practice and using both formal as well as “in-the-trenches” evidence-based standards.

Non-Judgmental – while addressing the problems, technology and those engaging in cyberbullying behavior should not be marginalized or pre-judged.

Accessible – whenever possible, programs, tools and resources should be easy to understand and deliver at the grass-roots level as well as for professionals, available in English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Farsi, Arabic and other languages relevant to our society, as well as being digitally-accessible for special needs audiences, provided without charge or at reasonable cost, with lower bandwidth and offline options as well as e-learning.

Respectful – consistent with existing laws, civil and human rights and freedom of speech standards for Canada.