Cyber Bullying

I’m all cuddled up in a warm, soft bed with a warm, soft baby trying desperately to take a much needed nap.  On my computer sit two blog posts that I wanted to finish and post tonight – one about the International Day of the Girl yesterday.  Neither of those things are happening because I watched a video.

This video by Amanda Todd who was cyber bullied and committed suicide this week.  You have to watch it on the news story as You Tube took the original down.

This hit so close to home.  Having been bullied and taken advantage of from grade 7 onwards I know.  I know the fear.  The anxiety.  The guilt.    I understand the desire to just make it all go away.

I can’t believe that people are STILL trying to find fault with her actions.  She may have made a mistake.  That’s what teenagers do.  They make mistakes so that they can learn and become adults someday.  At least we hope they do.

Some are calling what she did a “cry for attention”.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Of COURSE it was a cry for attention.  It was a silent SCREAM for help.  When you are terrified of losing the love and respect of the only people still around you your actions become symbolic of your feelings.  She needed people to pay more attention.  She drank bleach for goodness’ sake.

I don’t blame her.  I can’t.  For many reasons but most of all because she could have been me.  Had the faceless internet been available to those who tormented me – would my life have been any different?  Would I still be here to type these words?  The internet has given rise to a type of bullying that the laws and schools and even parents are struggling to catch up to.

The school isn’t to blame.  I have seen many comments asking why the school didn’t step in.  Often the hands of the teachers are tied, if they even know there is a problem to begin with.  They ignore bullying because they lack the power to do anything about it.  Often the parents of the bullies cause a stink.

The parents – who’s to really say?  My parents only found out what was going on in one school because they came home to find me sobbing on the floor one day.  When they moved me into a new school which ended up being worse I found a way to hide it from them – I felt guilty for making them worry.  In my mind it was my fault and I didn’t want the last people who loved me to abandon me.

I hope they find that pervert who coerced a grade 7 girl to flash him, took a picture, stalked her, and spread the picture to all of her family and friends.  Twice.  I hope they lock him up and throw away the key.

From what I understand the group who beat her and left her in a ditch threw a party after her death to celebrate.  People who made fun of her are writing on her memorial wall saying they loved her and will miss her.  What bullshit!

One of the people who tormented me in grade 7 and 8 saw me in a mall when I was just over 20.  She came up and tried to chat me up as if nothing had ever happened.  I remember looking at her and all those fears and anxieties came rushing back.  I couldn’t believe she had forgotten.  I asked why she thought I would want to speak with her after they way I had been treated.  “We were just kids, right?” was her response.  Just kids.  These girls and boys knew EXACTLY what they were doing.  Amanda moved from the school where they were into a new school and they TRACKED HER DOWN and bullied her there.  The internet has given bullies the ability to find victims and continue the attacks long after the victims have physically gone.  How much more would I have endured if my bullies could have found me so easily?

Anyone saying that bullying has always been around and this is the same is on crack.  Adding cyber into the mix makes things easier for bullies and worse for the bullied.  There is no escape.

But what’s to be done about it?

Amanda’s death has triggered a heated dialogue across the country about bullying in schools, cyber-bullying and mental health.  It’s shone a light on the lack of protection kids have against cyber attacks.  It’s shown us that children are slipping through the cracks – some with deadly results.  It’s highlighted a need for Canada to get serious on mental health issues and make sure that the support is there for those who need it.

It’s made me cry.  For Amanda and her life spent in anxiety and fear.  For my lost childhood.  For all those suffering in silence right now.  For the future that my son might have.

Something needs to change.  What we have isn’t working.  New laws are being stopped in parliament because anti-bullying means against homophobia too (I’m looking at you Conservatives).

I, for one, will raise my children with empathy and strength.  The ability to stand up for themselves but also for others.  The knowledge that they can ALWAYS come to me and I will move heaven and earth to help them.

I hope you have finally found peace, Amanda, and someone to eat lunch with.

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6 thoughts on “Cyber Bullying

    • Took a jaunt over to your home – nice blog. 🙂 The video has so affected me that it’s been hard to concentrate on anything else today. I’m happy that the RCMP is doing something and looking into it. If charges are laid perhaps it will make others think twice.

      • I read today that another family who has a son in one of the same schools Amanda went to have gone public with another nightmare of a bullying story…I think that is the right thing to do and will put even more public pressure to do something about these bullies. I hope this other child can be helped.

  1. My heart breaks for Amanda, and all the other kids going through life this way. I cannot imagine making a few normal teenager mistakes and never being able to learn and grow, just followed forever by those mistakes and tormented for them. I can’t help but think that the teenagers doing the bullying just don’t get it somehow. For some reason it doesn’t sink in (its all just “being kids”) especially with the cyber component, and no one is stepping up to force them through the lesson.
    In the end it lies in the laps of the adults – the teachers/schools, the parents of the bullies and the parents of the bullied. I’m sure there are the rare parent-bullies who wouldn’t really blink at their kids doing bullying of their own, but I bet most are decent parents that either don’t know it is happening or don’t know how to help stop it. The teachers and schools do have their hands tied, but it is in everyone’s best interest to untie those hands because the kids are in their environment most of the day. If nothing else they need to ensure everything gets reported to the parents so the parents of the bullies know and can force a hard lesson on their bullying child.
    I think the lesson to all kids, especially entering school every year, is that you can choose to be so many different things but the worst thing you can choose to be is a bully. Finding out my child is a bully would break my heart, but I would end that bullying no matter what it took. If my child ever used technology to bully, that technology would be gone.

    • Thanks, it’s one of the themes. Will probably be playing around with color and such the next few days. What theme did you choose, if I may ask?

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