Rehtaeh Parsons’ father to speak at conference promoting healthy youth relationships

Peter Jaffe, academic director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children

In November 2011, Glen Canning’s daughter, Rehtaeh, was sexually assaulted by four males at a house party near Halifax. The assault was photographed, and the photos shared on social media. Rehtaeh was subsequently harassed and bullied for months. In 2013, suffering from depression, she took her own life.

Canning is now an advocate for victims of sexual assault and bullying, and continues to push for changes to the criminal code of Canada. Wednesday evening, he will address a full house as the keynote speaker at a two-day conference dedicated to promoting healthy relationships among youth, in the hopes that stories like Rehtaeh’s never happen again.

The conference, hosted by the Faculty of Education’s Centre for School Mental Health and Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children (CREVAWC), will see experts and practitioners in children’s mental health working together with experts in violence- and bullying-prevention.

The conference takes place Feb. 15 – 17 and a detailed agenda and speaker list can be found here:

Children’s mental health is sometimes studied independent of studies on bullying and violence among students. “They are, however, quite interrelated,” said CREVAWC academic director, Peter Jaffe. “Poor mental health can often stem from being victimized by bullying, and bullying behaviours can stem from problems with poor mental health.”

The key to it all is developing solid, respectful relationships, said professor Claire Crooks, director of the faculty of education’s Centre for School Mental Health and co-host of the conference.

“Both of these areas of concern, poor mental health and bullying, exist in the realm of unhealthy relationships,” Crooks said. “We wanted to fill the room with people from the two areas – academics, educators, experts in mental health and justice, policy makers and legislators – to combine what they know, and work together to promote productive, healthy relationships for youth.”

Jaffe said Canning can speak first-hand about the issues. “Rehtaeh’s story offers critical lessons to be learned to prevent tragedies in similar circumstances in the future – her father is an important voice for us all to hear.”

Media are invited to attend the conference as well as the keynote address Wednesday evening. Mr. Canning will be available to speak to media immediately following his presentation and Centre spokespersons will be available both before and after the presentation.

What: Keynote address by Glen Canning
, father of Rehtaeh Parsons
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 15
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: London Convention Centre
, 300 York St., London

MEDIA CONTACT: Cory Habermehl, Senior Communications Officer, Faculty of Education, Western University , 519-661-2111 x87315,
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Peter Jaffe, academic director, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children