Girls at ‘Jane’s’ local high school terrorized her. It started as name calling and spitting, and then progressed to cyberbullying through MSN Messenger.
Anxious, overwhelmed and depressed, Jane sought help through Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket (ON). Here, she told a counselor about the bullying incidents and also shared her desire to “kill” the bullies, along with a “plan” for getting back at the main bully. The main plan involved Jane slicing the mouth of the main bully like the rag-doll character in Tim Burton’s animated film “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
The crisis counselor then called the police on Jane, worried about the severity of the threat. Jane was jailed, released two weeks later under strict conditions, and was eventually acquitted.
Jane, now 17, launched a lawsuit of over $4 million against the Heath Centre, councilor and York Regional Police. She called the incident “just a fantasy” that eventually “spiraled out of control.” But according to Bernard Dickens, a University of Toronto specialist on medical law, a patient’s relationship of confidentiality with a professional is nullified if they disclose the intent to do harm or cause future injury.
Allegations have also arisen that question the counselor’s level of coercement in Jane’s plan to “kill” the bullies; for asking about it on a regular basis so much that it could be construed as encouragement.
The heart of the issue lies in where the patient’s expectation of confidentiality starts and ends, as well as the responsibility of health workers to report violent threats to police.
If you, or you know of of someone who is being bullied or cyberbullied, you can report it anonymously by contracting your local police branch, on www.Cybertip.ca or contact www.KidsHelpPhone.ca to talk to someone about it.