Technology literacy critical to preventing sexual harassment: U of R women's centre

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Technology literacy critical to preventing sexual harassment: U of R women's centre

The head of the University of Regina women's centre says to prevent cases of sexual harassment, children need to be educated on the use technology and its potential consequences.

Earlier this week, targeted harassment of a female student angered and shocked the University of Moncton campus. Emails containing sexually explicit images of the student were sent to the entire school in what appears to be a case of "revenge porn." The RCMP are investigating.

This type of incident has not happened in Regina as far as the U of R is aware, but to get ahead of the issue, Jill Arnott, executive director of the U of R women's centre, said children need to be educated on how to use technology responsibly.

"The key is to being literate, encouraging the critical thinking, teaching kids how to use technology responsibly. Kids who are small will never know a world where they don't have this and so we owe them that," said Arnott.

She said if this doesn't become a focus of children's education the consequences could be fatal. She said it's up to the public to condemn behaviour that is right now all too common.

"Our young people are engaging in self-harm and attempting suicide. These kind of things as a result of these kinds of behaviours is absolutely going to increase."

When it comes to addressing complaints of sexual harassment and allegations of sexual assault, Arnott gave the U of R credit for being progressive over the past few years.

The man who investigates complaints of harassment and discrimination on campus said he sees a change in behaviour.

"People are speaking out," said Ian MacAusland-Berg, the U of R's co-ordinator of harassment and discrimination prevention.

MacAusland-Berg said people seem to be more informed of their rights and access to help has improved. 

Harassment, assault at U of R

According to the U of R, there were 28 complaints of sexual harassment in the past two years. Here's a breakdown:

- 2015-16: 13.

- 2014-15: 15.

- 2013-14: Nine.

- 2012-13: Nine.

- 2011-12: Nine.

There were 16 cases of sexual assault reported to U of R campus security between 2011 and 2016; eight were reported last year.