Amanda Todd’s Story & Cyber-Bullying

Bullying.

If you haven’t heard about Amanda Todd’s story, let me recap it for you.

A 15 year old Canadian girl from BC who was tormented for years by classmates, ‘friends’ and people she didn’t even know.  All through social media.  She took her life two days ago, only three weeks after posting a video on YouTube that shows her telling her story through flash cards (like the screen shot above).  The video is heart wrenching, chilling and so sad.  It was a plea for help, that nobody answered.  And now it is too late.

This is not the first case of bullying that has led to suicide, and while there is a lot of retro-active responses, where is the pro-activivity?

The other day I was actually having a conversation with someone who has three teenage daughters, and I commented on how different it must be now, raising teens in this day in age with social media.  How much harder it must be then when I was growing up (and the Internet came into play when I was in grade nine), and they completely agreed.

Bullying through social media happens all the time, and the consequences of someone’s bullying is often not seen by the bully.  For example, it is very easy to write, text, post and say mean things about someone or to someone while sitting behind your computer screen (often anonymously).  Add that to the ‘security’ of a large friends list and you have a perfect recipe to, ‘bully and forget’ (we’ll call it).  That means, the bully often doesn’t see the repercusions of their actions, they don’t know or feel or mainly see how badly it is affecting the victim, and sometimes, as in this case, until it is too late.

I cannot speak for how it is for teens today, growing up in a world so engrossed with social media, but as an adult, I know it’s not always easy dealing with the small-time bullies I may get on my blog.  Think back to when you were a teen; high school is the be-all and end-all, or so it seems at the time.  When your world crashes around you, when other students are picking on you, when you have no friends or anywhere to turn, your world literally is falling apart.  At that age, it’s hard to realize life is bigger, better, and greater outside of high school and often times at that age, you don’t have the tools to deal with such emotional crisis.

As I mentioned, I have dealt with some mean comments on my blog, bullying, or ‘trolls’, if you will (none of which compare to the severity of what Amanda Todd experienced).  These comments are always anonymous, and of course they are.  How easy is it to sit back and judge someone without showing your face and write hurtful things?  Very, very easy.  Is it right?  Of course not.  Does it happen?  All the time.

We need to make this stop.  Beautiful people are taking their lives because of the cruelty of others.  Why do people feel the need to torment others?  Is it jealousy?  Is it insecurity?  Perhaps they are simply mean.  I believe that there is good in people.  Don’t let this go any further.  Raise awareness.  Speak out.  Share your story.  And as someone wise once said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in others.’

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