After getting the boys off to school today, (and before crawling back into bed, and into the flu-induced coma that has kept me home from work all week), I took the time to watch the video of Amanda Todd.
Amanda is the 15yr old girl from Port Coquitlam, B.C, who took her life this week, because she was being horribly bullied and tormented and blackmailed online.
This is a tragedy, that should NOT have happened!
This bullying insanity, HAS to STOP! NOW!!!!!
Before you go all, 'Oh come on! We were bullied as kids, bullying has been around forever' on me ... yes and no.
Yes, kids have always (and sadly, most likely always will) endured 'some' form of bullying.
But, the rules have changed.
The playing field, unfamiliar territory for many parents, unfortunately.
When *I* was a kid, teasing and tormenting took place on the schoolground, in the form of mean spirited jokes, whispers, taunting and shoving, or went in the opposite direction of entire exclusion from anything and everything.
It happened through notes, passed from one hand to the other in the classroom, that spread the latest rumour about that week's 'target'.
If you attended the same extracurricular activities as your tormentors, it usually carried over into that situation, in some form, as well.
However, once you were home. You were safe.
Safe from those determined to make you feel like crap.
Those who, for some reason, seemed hell bent on crushing your spirit.
Home was safe.
Except for your own thoughts of course. Couldn't escape those.
But from the verbal and physical attacks ... safe.
Oh, and except for prank calls, too. Those sucked.
Nope. Different mindset.
Nowadays, it seems cruel is cool.
So to speak.
The crueler the better.
And our kids are immersed it in. EVERYWHERE they go.
Long gone are the notes from hand to hand.
Those rumours are spread to hundreds or thousands, in the blink of an eye, through one quick text message.
Now there's sexting and online flashing.
Physical attacks are now gangstyle, and involve weapons, not fists.
Home, with internet access, and cell phones with texts, is no longer safe.
The onslaught of message after message after message.
The little 'ding' of each one's arrival.
And a totally different form of downright harassment than we ever had to face.
Telling a classmate, 'Nobody likes you, you stink like poo!', is one thing.
There were messages left on Amanda's wall, encouraging her to drink bleach and die.
Or to just ... die.
No, some of our youth are taking things to a whole other level.
The laws against cyber harassment like this have to change, to PREVENT this, NOW!
Telling them to disconnect, seems to be the immediate solution thrown out there in the comments I've read.
But really, how realistic is that?
At SOME point in their lives, our children will be online.
We have to take on the responsibility of showing them how to use it the RIGHT and SAFE way.
Lock down their privacy settings.
Monitor their activity.
Hell, I even listen to the xbox conversations and will yell out an occasional, 'HEY! ENOUGH!' when the line of trash talk gets crossed.
And then, give 'em a kiss and hope for the best that they make the right decisions.
And help them through it when they don't.
Aside from this tragedy itself, what I think has shocked me more today, are the comments I've read on Youtube, Facebook and various news reports of her death.
My thoughts on THOSE, I'll get to in a minute.
However, there was a comment that appeared in many places, that I'd like to tackle immediately.
'Why didn't she try to get help?'
Um ... ok ... you mean other than the two previous suicide attempts, which is a pretty earth shattering SCREAM for help?
She did try.
Five weeks ago, today.
Now, for those of you who would rather not take the time to watch this video, let me at least provide you with what she hoped to accomplish with it.
As Amanda describes in those chilling last two sentences of the video description ...
"I hope I can show you guys that everyone has a story, and everyones future will be bright one day, you just gotta pull through. I'm still here aren't I ?"
As a parent, her story completely terrifies me. And breaks my heart.
She made a bad decision flashing herself over the webcam.
She was 12. 12, PEOPLE!!!!
Kids make mistakes. They post things they shouldn't. Do things online they shouldn't.
But they shouldn't be paying for it with their lives.
And this poor girl can't even get away from their hate, in death.
The negative comments I've seen today have infuriated and sickened me.
The RIP Amanda Todd Facebook page (no, I'm NOT linking to it, hoping they shut this DOWN!), the multiple other memorial facebook pages, her Youtube video, and various news articles, have people continuing to spew hatred towards Amanda in the comments.
One commentor posted, 'Those who bullied her should be named, and their comments should be posted for all the world to see.'
Um ... go to any Amanda Todd page right now, and you'll see all kinds of hateful comments.
Right there, in black and white.
It's heart-wrenching and heartbreaking to actually SEE ... firsthand, the complete shit this poor girl had to endure.
They're saying she's a whore, slut, brought it on herself, deserved it.
Insanities, such as, 'I like bleach' and 'where's the pic of her tits?
Laughing at her.
One commentor was going off, because people were planning parties to celebrate her death.
REALLY? Parties? WTF are you people thinking????
And the cruel, hateful, pictures.
Mocking her death. Mocking her life.
Someone even posted 'the' pic of her that the stalker captured and made public.
It really makes me so sad, and disheartened, to see SO much hate, spread across so many mediums.
I don't know how to change things, except to try and keep on top of what my kids are doing online, and know (and if necessary, correct them on), how they're conducting themselves.
Generally stay involved in their lives as much as I can.
And as much as they'll let me ... I guess.
AND ... I can spout my own opinions about this devastating event in my own forums!
One such place, was on both my own boys Facebook pages this morning.
They're used to it. So are their friends. I'm occasionally gettin' up in their space over there.
Right after I watched it, and read the accompanying news article, I posted Amanda's video, along with my own personal message, to all their friends:
KIDS! As parents, we always try to warn you about the dangers of the internet, and that what you post (words and pics) are out there FOREVER!
Amanda Todd found this out the hard way. She was 15, and on Wednesday, she took her own life, because of the bullies who tormented her online, after a pic was posted, she wished she could take back. She couldn't take it back. She made a mistake. And unfortunately, felt she had to pay for it with her life.
THIS SHOULDN'T HAPPEN!!!!
PLEASE be careful online!
And WATCH YOUR WORDS to other kids! If you see someone being bullied, MAKE A DIFFERENCE! Instead of adding to their torture, reach out, HELP THEM!!!
All of you will grow into adults some day. And do you really want to spend your 'adult years' knowing you contributed to someone's death ... by doing nothing, or worse ... by taunting them?
That's alot of guilt to carry. For a very long time.
Do the RIGHT thing, guys.
Be the generation who makes this change. Make the difference!
I'm just one voice, one opinion, but if I can get through to ONE kid, I'll take that.
I hope they 'hear' me.
There are a few other people who'd I'd like to hear me as well ...
To the 'male' who blackmailed Amanda - I hope you understand what you've done. I hope you understand that, in my opinion, YOU were the catalyst, that launched the series of events leading to Amanda's death.
I hope you understand that blackmail IS a crime.
Child pornography (you DID take her picture ... right?) ... IS a crime.
And bad enough you took the picture, you Jackass, you MASS DISTRIBUTED it!!!! Another crime!
I hope you understand all this, because you're going to have to live with it in your head, and your heart for a very long time.
Amanda couldn't erase that picture you took, or the slew of hate that was heaped upon her for over a year because of it ... now, let's see you try and erase her blood from your hands.
To the 'guy friend' who betrayed Amanda - I'm curious, was it your 'plan', from the beginning, to get her to have sex with you, specifically to use it against her afterwards? Or did you just want the sex?
You hurt her. Bad. She thought you were her friend.
You're still a young boy, and since I really don't know what your REAL intention was with the hookup, I can only fault you for being a
But someday, if that was all you were guilty of, then perhaps you really will understand what true love is, and marry that 'special someone', have kids ... maybe even a daughter that will hopefully mean the world to you.
Now. Just think about that for a minute.
Kinda nice, huh?
OK, now, think about what you did to Amanda ... someone else's daughter.
Not such a nice feeling, huh?
I'll leave you with that.
To her friends - I don't mean to sound harsh ... because I know none of your personal relationships with her ... well, ok, maybe the mom in me does want to cut to the chase, harsh or not.
So I HAVE to ask ... if you were her friends, WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU when she was getting the shit kicked out of her at school?
Why didn't you get a teacher, or someone, anyone to break it up sooner?
Why didn't you slap the phones out of the hands that were trying to get a 'cool' catfight upload for Youtube?
Why did her dad find her in a ditch hours later?
Why didn't you walk over and get in that freakin' ditch with her! Talk to her, hug her, make sure she was ok, and then get her ass out of there and either home or to the hospital?
If she had friends, why did she continuously eat lunch alone every day in the library?
One friend was quoted in this article by CTV BC, as saying "It's sad that the world starts listening when someone's already dead."
Yeah. It IS sad. Isn't it.
To all the people leaving the hateful, disgusting, cruel comments across the social media stratosphere - KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF!!!!!!
You people are making me furious!
And sick! And I was already sick with this stupid flu, so you're adding to that!
I REALLY hope any of you that left comments, especially on her personal pages, that 'knew' her, WILL be questioned about the part you played in her death.
And if you're just complete strangers throwing this shit out there, are you simply looking for a reaction?
Otherwise, where does such hatred for a dead child, that you didn't even know, come from?
Get help. You need it.
And please, STOP PREYING ON OUR YOUTH!
To the RCMP division of the Port Coquitlam Police (and BC justice system) - Please ... PLEASE don't let this child die in vain.
If you find, or have already found evidence the events occurred, as she described in her video, people NEED to be arrested.
And more importantly, NEED to be prosecuted, and found GUILTY of something more than a misdemeanor, that will only give them a slap on the wrist, and leave them in society to prey on their next unsuspecting peer.
The alleged blackmailer NEEDS to be held accountable for his actions.
And, with all due respect, I can't understand why charges weren't brought against this person already. I'm sure you had already traced his IP. Cybercrime 101.
What were you waiting for?
The girl (and others?) who beat her up at school NEEDS to be held accountable for her/their actions. That was assault.
And then, look at her Youtube account, Facebook page. PEOPLE LEFT COMMENTS TELLING HER TO DIE!!!
Charge them with harassment!
We, and I think I definitely CAN speak for more than myself here, NEED to see justice for Amanda.
And EVERY OTHER one of our children who found themselves in the same situation as Amanda.
And did the same thing.
We need to see the laws change, so future Amanda's aren't pushed to the point of despair.
We need your help to do this.
A similar case took place in 2010 in the States.
Ring any bells?
THOSE kids, the ones on trial for the cyber-bullying, received one year probation and 100 hours community service.
THAT'S NOT ENOUGH!!!!!
WATCH THIS VIDEO! Listen to the details. Sound familiar?
The laws need to change, so that kids are actually going to think twice about posting something hateful like 'drink bleach and die!' .... BEFORE IT HAPPENS!
You KNOW who these people are who made Amanda's life hell, to the point that she completely gave up.
Now, GO GET 'EM, RCMP BOYS & GIRLS!!!! Please.
To Amanda's family - I am so SO sorry your daughter went through this nightmare. I truly wish I had seen that video sooner.
I wish she hadn't felt so alone.
I wish she could have believed in her own words.
And with all my heart, I wish you peace, somewhere down the road, and hope you know that, although she may not have felt it worth living for, her life absolutely DID impact others.
Many many many other people's hearts are breaking for her, and for their own daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.
She WON'T be forgotten.
And I hope, wherever she is, she is feeling the genuine love from her now extended, world-wide family, who are wrapping our arms around her.
To the kids out there who are currently feeling bullied. At school, online, at home - THERE IS HELP! Please, please talk to someone.
And, I know I'm only some old chick from Canada spouting off, but believe me, PLEASE, what you're in right now, is only one small, shitty chapter of a huge book.
It may feel never ending, but this chapter WILL pass, and the book tends to get better once it does.
Don't rip out the next chapters of your book, kids. Hang in there!
We're listening! We're out here! We DO care!
Things have to change, people.
We understand, as a society, that we're losing our kids.
Yet, for all our websites, social network pages, and 'anti-bulling' promotion worldwide, it's still happening.
And we're STILL losing our kids.
How do we fix this?
We've tried programs, education, no tolerance policies but yet, Amanda was still tortured online and at school.
HOW DO WE FIX THIS?
I don't know.
I don't know what else to do, other than to keep talking to my own kids and their friends about it.
Which I did.
When they boys got home from school, we watched, we talked, I cried.
They promised they would not get involved with any type of bully-pack-mentality.
Cyber or otherwise.
They both assured me that they would try to help any of their friends they thought were in trouble.
I liked hearing that.
Although I hope they never have to.
Unfortunately, I know one of their mutual friends also made a video, awhile back, along the same lines of Amanda's.
It made me cry, too.
She seems to be doing OK, but I think about her. And hope for her.
I hope for all of them.
I'm done. Off the soap box.
If you have tween/teenage kids, I encourage you to TALK to them about what they post online.
How it's out there FOREVER!!!!!
And look for the signs that YOUR child may have become a target of online bullying.
SHARE Amanda's story with them.
And most importantly ... hug 'em tight, people.
Hug 'em tight.