October is Bullying Prevention Month, and the following story makes it all the more important to talk to our children about bullying, and the severe and devastating impact it can have on a person's life.
Amanda Todd told her story on YouTube, using handwritten index cards to walk the viewer through the events that lead her to where she was then -- alone, despondent, and bullied.
The entire video is soundless and in black and white, which makes her story even more chilling.
When she was in seventh grade, she was pressured online to "flash" for the webcam. As many pre-teens and teens do, she bowed to peer pressure and did.
Soon after, she received a Facebook message from a total stranger, threatening that if she didn't reveal more of herself, he would send her topless pictures to everyone she knew. He included her address, school name, and the names of her family and friends to prove he wasn't joking around.
At Christmas that year, her online bully made good on his promise, sending the pictures to everyone she knew. Amanda found out when the cops came to her home with the news.
This resulted in severe anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder.
This was only made worse when the same man who threatened her created a Facebook page with Amanda's topless photo as his profile picture.
The relentless teasing and rejection she faced at school because of this incident led her to start cutting. She ate lunch alone at school. She was attacked and beat by a group of teenage girls.
She drank bleach to try to end her life. Although she survived her first suicide attempt, the bullying continued, with many saying she deserved to die after what she did.
Although her mother moved her to a different school, the bullying online continued, with people posting pictures of bleach on her Facebook page.
Her anxiety and depression only went downhill, and she was rushed to the hospital again after she overdosed on drugs.
Although she survived that attempt, Amanda Todd succeeded in ending her life.
Her body was found in her home last Wednesday. She was only 15 years old.
I don't mean to start the week off on such a sad and somber note, but a story like this needs recognition, because it shows the tragic implications that bullying can have. In honor of Bullying Prevention Month, remember Amanda Todd and use her story to garner attention to bullying. Online bullying can be just as bad as physical bullying, because it can follow you anywhere.
If you need conversation starters to talk to your children about this, we've got plenty of resources to help you out:
- 8 Effective Ways to Bully-Proof Your Child
- Take Our Bully Quiz
- Support for Gay Teens Facing Homophobia and Bullying
- Psychological Bullying
- What You Need to Know About Cyberbullying
- 5 Things You Should Do Before Your Child Joins Social Media Sites
- More on Dealing with Bullies
- Online and Internet Safety Resources for Kids and Adults