Amanda Todd's Suicide Is Not Just Because Of Cyberbullying
Amanda Todd was cyberbullied. She was stalked, humiliated and shamed on the Internet. Facebook was used to damage her reputation and her psyche.
But cyberbullying is not the sole cause of her suicide.
What Amanda Todd went through was so much more complex than the actions of a cyberbully. It started with a crime, and that sick man used his crime against her online. Add in groups of teens who pursued her, teens who took what they learned on the Internet and used it against her in real life.
It was a messy, tragic horrible situation that shows the worst side of many people. It was much more than cyberbulling.
As Jesse Brown said in Maclean's: Amanda Todd: Cyberbullying Doesn't Begin to Cover It: "we are again trying to squeeze a complicated and disturbing case of abuse and manipulation of a minor into the 'cyberbullying' box."
Parents are running scared, talking about limiting their kids' use of online networks, citing Amanda Todd as a reason. But the Internet, in and of itself, is not to blame. We need to lay off the "cyber" element and focus on the bullying.
The lesson here is not about limiting our kids' use of technology, which is increasingly impossible anyway. It is that we have to teach them empathy -- both online and off.
The kids that beat up Amanda Todd, that taunted her and posted mean things about her - they have parents, friends and teachers. Hopefully, right now they are thinking about their actions. Did the adults in their life hear them talking about Amanda? Did the teachers see what was going on?
There were obviously pieces that weren't picked up, kids that had no limits, adults turning a blind eye.
Right now we parents are all running scared, hoping that our kids don't end up like Amanda. But what we need to do is also make sure they don't turn into bullies.
Parenting educator Annie Fox has two posts about what to do if your child is a bully, and it tells parents to ask themselves some hard questions about their kids, and about their own parenting.
Extreme bullying mixed with a sexual predator and a vulnerable girl was a potent and tragic mix. We must do better -- as parents, as adults and as people.
Do you worry about your teens? Did this tragedy change how you view social media?