Sometime last year, I came across a story that genuinely reached out at me. It was about a little girl called Amanda Todd. Some of you will be aware her story and some of you will have even seen her video – a video she put on YouTube documenting the bullying at school she’d endured over the years. This video was a cry for help, but instead she was bullied further for uploading it until eventually, she took her own life.
This made me think a lot about bullying, particularly cyber bullying. I never really thought that you could bully someone to that extent. I had heard of cases on the TV or via social media, but to watch her video, almost sharing her journey – it was sad.
But that was in Canada I naively thought. I thought about her for a few days and then got on with my life. Laughing, enjoying life. Not expecting this on my own doorstep.
And then a couple of nights ago, on Facebook, I seen a girl who is barely a teenager from the area I’d grew up in share responses from ‘AskFM’ – a website where anonymous people can ask questions for you to answer – however, instead of questions, there was nothing but a barrage of abuse. Telling her to die. Telling her how ugly she was. How she should jump off a bridge. It was relentless and disgusting. What worried me more was that she was making this public on Facebook – where she has family and friends who could easily see this – yet they fail to put a stop to it. It reminded me of Amanda Todd in that, I often asked myself why her mother or father didn’t spend the time required with her when she’d uploaded that video for all to see on YouTube. I understand that it’s easy to say “I’d have given up my job and moved her away from it” when you’re an outsider, and I understand that it must be difficult for everyone involved to be going through this, including the family. But I can’t understand why no action was taking by the people responsible for protecting both Amanda and this young girl on my Facebook – who’s name I’ll keep anonymous.
Anyway, this isn’t about questioning parental skills. This is about witnessing a little girl from where I grew up being bombarded with complete abuse over the internet. I just wonder where it stops? When do these children get a break? They get bullied at school, come home and it continues over the internet – when do they have time to just chill out and enjoy the best years of being alive? I don’t believe the people telling this girl to go die actually want her dead, but I can’t help wonder if they understand how she might be feeling. Would they be happy living with that being the last thing this little girl read before taking her own life? The thing is, if we showed these bullies how they used to act 10 years from now, the would be utterly ashamed no doubt.
Furthermore, who is there to help the children experiencing this across the globe when they share things like this in the public domain and get ridiculed further for it? Of course increasing peer-pressure has made bullying for the most part, unacceptable but we need to do more to combat this among the younger generation. We need to allow children to be children and enjoy their childhoods. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be bullied in school, then outside, then in your own bedroom.
It’s genuinely sad.
For those of you who wish to view Amanda Todd’s video to get an understanding of how cyber bullying can have an impact on people, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRxfTyNa24A