Amanda Todd was just 15 years old. I say she was because on October 10th, 2012 she killed herself. Amanda was a victim of bullying.
Only a short time ago, after years of being a target of bullying, this girl took the step of posting her plight on YouTube. Silently she held up cards that told her story, the story of unimaginable hurt, betrayal, harm by others and harm to self. It was a heartbreaking account of everything that had destroyed her spirit. However, the bullying has not stopped. Still even after her death it continues through social media with sickening comments posted on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. It was hard enough being a target when she was at school or just hanging out but the cyber-bullying took the abuse to a whole new level. One that nobody could protect her from as her image and her pain continues on through various hits, likes and dislikes.
Online there are bullies who don’t reveal themselves personally, instead the cowards hide behind fake names. Some bullies don’t even bother to hide their identity as they are all about sharing their opinion with no apparent conscience. There is nothing cool about what they are doing and in fact, anonymity means that being seen as cool is not their primary goal. It’s just pure evil.
In taking her own life, Amanda thought it would end her suffering and it did but the suffering continues for her family. Even in their grief they are forced to issue statements to the media pleading with online bullies to stop with hateful speech. The RCMP has limited ability to silence the bastards and keep the massive amounts of crap that was directed at Amanda’s Facebook page from building up. So, what does this all mean?
Amanda’s name was inconsequential to millions of us before this tragedy but now we know who she is. She is the messenger. Amanda told us we are failing. We are failing to firmly implant the roots of empathy and civility in our society evidenced by what we have seen transpire in this case and hundreds of others. Our children are alone and the social connections formed through the digital world are not enough. Then there are the children who sit for many hours without the companionship of their own parents. We can easily detach ourselves from the responsibilities of parenting, justifying our busy life in the name of giving our children a better future. For some children, like Amanda, that future never comes.
The village is no longer welcome to help raise and protect children as this generation prides itself on staying out of each others business. We laugh at rudeness and turn our nose up at decency and why should we have guilt for our actions? … “If you don’t like it f*** off!” When did the privacy of a child outweigh the commonsense approach of knowing who your child is speaking to and where are they going? Somewhere right now there is a kid who is posting something on social media that he or she shouldn’t. Making one mistake that leads to a lifetime of embarrassment or posting comments that are life threatening. She/he is able to do this because despite the advice to be involved, there are parents who are not up to speed with their kids online activity.
We fail to provide help to people (especially our youth) when they need it. Access to mental health services is paramount and funds to support those initiatives can help prevent the needless death of an individual. BULLYING ANYWHERE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! Many kids stood around and did nothing as Amanda laid on the ground taking one beating after another. What is that? Fear? Stupidity? Lack of compassion? We all cast out our theories but at the end of the day a child lies bleeding and crushed by the weight of hate. That is not good enough!
If I seem pissed off about this I am. I too was a victim of bullying. Saved by the lack of Internet and social media in my generation the suffering was contained to the school yard. I hated walking to school and still have nightmares on occasion of walking down the pathway where my attackers would wait. I had a few physical incidences but mainly I underwent a barrage of name calling and taunts that cut deep. I couldn’t wait for summer but even then sometimes my path would cross with someone who made it their mission to hurt me but, this is a story about Amanda. She was a precious soul who shared our earth for a short time and my hope is that she doesn’t fade to the background as some suicidal statistic but instead rises to become the teenage girl who influenced change.
Change in how we see the issue of bullying. Change in how we parent our children. Change in what we allow ourselves to be exposed to everyday. Change in our services. Change in our selfish acts. Change in our language.
Change towards compassion.
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