The Bully < /Stop> Hackathon: Empowering youth to put an end to cyberbullying

What’s a parent to do when the hardships that we’re once restricted to the school yard such as bullying and name calling, come creeping into the house, scurry down the hall and are sitting next to your child on a screen while they try to do their homework?

The reality is, for most parents (and teachers), children are going to know more about smartphones and apps before you have a chance to learn how to pronounce them. This makes combatting issues like cyberbullying incredibly difficult.

In the last month, CSSN held the first two of our Bully Stop Hackathons, and we’re thrilled to say they were a great success!

The BullyStop Hackathon is a new Safe Schools initiative developed to help combat cyberbullying.

Bullying is one of the most prevalent and harmful issues facing youth today. Not only does bullying make children feel unsafe, but it puts their mental, social, and physical well-being at risk. With the rise of social media, the problem has only become more severe. Bullying, harassment and intimidation have become an inescapable, 24/7 problem for many Canadian children. The effects of bullying can be devastating and in the most severe of cases can lead to suicide.

Despite the issues, the reality is that communication technology has carved a lasting place in society. We live in digital times, and our capacity for online communication is only growing. In fact, computer coding is being introduced into provincial school curriculum and will likely continue to be integrated across the nation. As the space for online social networks continues to grow, more is needed to combat negative peer interactions and to promote safety, resilience, and positive mental health. We don’t believe that social technology is inherently the problem. In fact, we believe that it may be the solution.


This event, held in Vancouver and Toronto in Lighthouse Labs offices (and soon to be Calgary and Halifax) invited high school and university students to take part in a friendly competition to build mobile apps that can help put an end to cyberbullying.

The events saw students:

Discuss the issues and explore perspectives

– What are the problems and who is impacted?

Learn about app technology and development.

– Students learned about computer coding for iOS, how to storyboard their ideas, and how to develop a concept ready for market.

Collaborate and create ways to put a stop to cyberbullying.

-Students worked alongside safe school facilitators, law enforcement officials, and tech experts to brainstorm ideas for digital solutions.

-They competed in a creative competition to design iOS apps that could help eliminate cyberbullying.

-Teams pitched their ideas to the one another and to the adult experts.  The room voted on the winning app in each city!

We’ve heard excellent ideas all around! The events have allowed us to hear directly from youth on the most pertinent issues they face in the online world, which in turn allows us to develop solutions that are effective. We’re proud to have met and worked with such engaged and inspiring young individuals thus far, and can’t wait to hear more fantastic ideas as we head to Calgary and Halifax.

The program came to life with help from our generous sponsors Lighthouse Labs, and Telus WISE who seek to make the online world safer for everyone using it.

To check out CTV coverage of this event click here.

Stay tuned for more information on the BullyStop Hackathon as we look to develop a program that will bring the initiative to schools across the country! If you’d like to know more, get in touch!


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