Amanda Todd's Suicide Shows Bullying's Extremes And Our Own Weakness
The feeling of sadness permeates the Internet and our conversations these days. The apparent suicide of Amanda Todd in Coquitlam has shocked, saddened and created an outpouring of grief for this sad, bullied girl.
The 15-year-old was intensely bullied online and in the schoolyard. She was harassed, taunted and slut-shamed by people she knew, and by people she had never met. She detailed her harrassment in a stark and heartbreaking video she posted on YouTube a month ago.
In it, her cue cards read:
“I’m struggling to stay in this world, because everything just touches me so deeply. I’m not doing this for attention. I’m doing this to be an inspiration and to show that I can be strong. I did things to myself to make pain go away, because I’d rather hurt myself then someone else. Haters are haters but please don’t hate. . . . I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyone’s future will be bright some day, you just gotta pull through. I’m still here, aren’t I?’’
But of course, now she isn't.
Amanda got lured into lifting her shirt and giving a bully/predator a means of humiliating her. She isn't the first, nor the last, to be flattered into exposing herself. But it wasn't the single incident that drove her to suicide. It was the continued harassment by other teens.
It sounds like her parents were engaged, and she moved schools and towns. She was seeing a therapist, the school knew what was going on, but it didn't stop. It didn't stop because no one stopped it. It didn't stop because other girls and boys kept it going.
The story has created an outpouring of stories from others who have been bullied -- including this reporter's own story at the Globe.
The nine-minute YouTube video has ironically turned Amanda Todd into a sensation on the very medium that bullied her. Her mother hopes that the video will inspire bullies to stop their torment. She couldn't save her little girl but perhaps her daughter can save thousands. It will most likely be shown in classrooms across the country this week, and for years to come.
As parents of potential bullies, and the bullied, what can we do to make this situation better? I tell my kids to stand up for kids who are being bullied. I tell them that they have the power to make things better for themselves and others. But they have admitted to me that it is hard. It is hard to be the one to raise their voice, it is hard to be different. Hard, but important is what I tell them.
I'm sure that we have all done things that we aren't proud of. I'm sure we've all had moments that have been dark. Now how do we pass on the strength to our girls and our boys that school isn't life? Is this video, filmed by a dead girl in a moment of clarity going to help the bullies and the bullied?
We can only hope.
What are your stories of bullying?
Want more chaos? Last year, I reported that head inuries weren't the only damage being done to young athletes.