The following is a guest post by Brittney Knight, StS intern and GMU undergraduate student.
With the age of the internet, bullying has risen. Many teens are now faced with hate, anonymous or not. Amanda Todd was one of those teens until she took her life. Amanda was in 7th grade when she was convinced by a random guy on the internet to show her breasts to him. She was too young to understand the severity for her actions and the person kept the picture. This would come to haunt her in the coming year. For this small mistake her classmates, to the point she was told to kill herself because no one wanted her around, bullied Amanda. This year she made a video with flashcards that explained her story. In October 2012, Amanda Todd took her life at 15.
This sad story does not end here. Even after her death, people are still bullying Amanda. There are words of hatred saying she deserved the hate and deserved to die. They are saying her story doesn’t deserve media attention, because she is a Caucasian girl and she made a “bad decision.” Regardless of her situation, her race or what she did in the past, nothing warrants the tragedy of suicide or malicious words. It is the words people are still saying that drove this girl to low self-esteem and to the point where she could no longer live with herself.
So how do we fix this? Who do we hold responsible for the suicides that occur from bullying? It’s not an easy answer. In my honest opinion, the children who bullied are responsible. Many times children and teens say things that are harsh and cause others to question their worth and they do this without thinking of the repercussions. Most of the time there are no real repercussions which allow teens to continue to bully with no fear. If we (responsible adults, compassionate people) don’t hold bullies for partial fault, when will they learn the repercussions of their words on others? We need to work on implementing more anti-bullying activities and events in school because these issues in hand with the growth of internet has increased the suicide rate.
Teens already have it hard enough growing up through puberty, we do not need to add bullying into the mix. Programs like No Bully, provide schools with the training to take on bullying in the schools. The program has four levels for teachers to learn how to handle bullying including Prevent & Interrupt, Refer to a Solution Coach, Hold a Solution Team and Support with Solution Coach, and finally Implement an Empathy-Building Action Plan. The program targets human’s innate habit of coming together as a group and showing the impact peer bullying has. They work toward the source of bullying by understanding most teens bully not because they lack empathy but rather have issues they are dealing with. This wonderful program works to better the lives of all students involved, not just the bullied.
In conjugation with anti-bullying techniques, we all need to open our hearts and keep our own harsh judgments in our heads instead of projecting them onto somebody else. Maybe this way we could live in this world with more peace and less suicide. No matter how you feel about a person, whether you think them a “whore” or not, there is no reason Amanda Todd should have took her life in October. She did not deserve to die for any reason and as soon as people grow up and realize that words have an impact, then the suicide rate will drop. People will want to live! Let’s raise our children in a world where peace is a real possibility.
Note from our Blog Editor, Sheila M:
If you or anyone you know is having a difficult time coping with any situation do not hesitate to reach out for help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) to talk with a friend. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and SuicideHotlines.com are easy and helpful online resources for help in your area. If you are a George Mason University student, remember our on-campus counselling services, CAPS. You can drop in and it is free. There are many wonderful resources dedicated to your quality of life and happiness.