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.