Port Coquitlam, BC -15-year-old Amanda Todd’s suicide on Oct. 10, resulted in many thinking about the devastating psychological effects of bullying. Her story shows the complexities of modern bullying due to a combination of both persistent bullying at school and cyber-bullying.
On Oct. 19 people around the world from Canada, the U.S., Denmark, and India gathered to honour Todd. The Winnipeg vigil was held at the Manitoba Legislature building and was organized by Global Girl Power.
Harrison Oakes, a psychology student at the University of Winnipeg, was struck by Todd’s story, reminding him of his own experience with bullying.
Oakes has published a teacher’s guide to bullying awareness, available online, which features recent research on bullying. He referred to the vigil as “a sign of solidarity”
Todd, while in grade seven, allegedly met a cyber-stalker to whom she sent graphic pictures of herself. A year later, she received a message on Facebook from the same individual threatening to spread the picture on the Internet if she did not send more pictures herself. When Todd refused, police showed up at her door when the picture was sent viral via the Internet.
“If you don’t put on a show for me, I will send your boobs,” said the cyber-stalker.
Todd was subsequently bullied at every school she attended. This resulted in an attack that left Todd bleeding in a ditch.
The bullying eventually culminated in a suicide attempt, and when this first attempt did not work, her classmates continued the harassment. Classmates went as far as to plan a party to celebrate her successful suicide.
The tragic event has garnered much social media attention. Todd’s story was told on a YouTube video that she posed on Sept. 7, approximately a month before her suicide, resulting in millions of hits. The nine minute black and white video features Todd with cards and black sharpie which express her story to background music “Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World.
“I have nobody. I need somebody,” said Todd on one of her final slides.
Dozens of articles surrounding the issue have raised questions of responsibility and prevention. The tragic event has government MPs, police, education professionals, and parents talking.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection is currently working on creating a lesson plan for grade seven classes that educates them about sexual predators. A study recently released by the CCCP stated the mean age of cyber-bully victims was 13-years-old, with 85.9 per cent of victims being female. The mean age of offenders was 25. Twenty-four per cent of the victims were threatened, with the main threat being equivalent to that which which Todd received – online distribution of an existing photograph of the victim.
This information is based on a study of incidents reported to cybertip.ca, a website for reporting online sexual exploitation of children, between 2007 and 2011.