I first wanted to begin this post by thanking Carol Todd for taking the time out of her schedule to talk to our class and many others about Amanda’s story! I definitely recommend you go follow Carol on twitter if you aren’t yet. Her twitter handle is @c_todd.
I can actually remember when Amanda’s story came out at the time. I specifically remember watching her video on youtube called “My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm,” right before her passing. It actually disturbed me as a younger teenager and hearing all the horrible things that people were saying about her and her family. Since taking this class and growing up in the digital world, I have come to the realization that these things like cyberbullying are more and more common than I ever thought. I never participated in a chat room as a teenager but I was online all the time looking at Facebook. I have seen back then and now how hurtful and painful it is for someone to say negative things online because, in reality, I feel like there’s nothing you can do about someone online. Especially if it is people you don’t know, it’s not like you can go confront that person. There were a few things that stood out to me that Carol talked about in our class discussion.
The first thing that stood out to me was Carol talking about how teenagers are always going to be online no matter what. I watched a documentary called “Stalking Amanda Todd,” where it said that Amanda continued to go online even after the cyberbullying began. When I first read this, I wondered to myself, “why would she continue to go online after she was being bullied?” I realized that it’s WAY more complicated than just ignoring the trolls online. An article I read called “The Secret Social Media Lives of Teenagers,” from earlier in the semester outlines a bit about why this could happen. It specifies that people can get quickly caught up in the feedback and comments of these things and it draws them in. Even I find myself addicted to social media somedays and really wanting those “likes” on Instagram. The video on youtube called “How one tweet can ruin your life,” made me think about Amanda’s situation. I say this because the man in the video created one tweet that got a lot of negative feedback. He then decided that his tweet was wrong and wanted to publicly apologize. With Amanda’s situation, she made one wrong choice and instantly regretted it. With social media and the internet, nothing goes away or disappears which is the extremely tough part. We have to be so careful about what we do online.
The other thing that stood out to me while watching all the documentaries and videos on Amanda’s story was the police involvement. I find it astonishing how much I hear about the police involvement these days. It makes me think about the Gerald Stanley case where the police bombarded Colten’s home without telling his mother why they were there and what happened. I understand these are two different situations completely, but the police were both involved. It hurt my heart to hear Carol Todd talk about the police’s involvement being quite minimal. I think it bothers me so much because police, in my eyes, is meant to represent safety, comfort, and protection.
I also really liked that Carol gave us some awesome and valuable advice for teachers who have students in these situations. Monica Lewinsky from the “Price of Shame” Ted Talk talks about how she felt and how her situation took her into a downward spiral of depression. Even just listening to her talk makes me aware of what I can or should or want to do as a teacher. I ultimately want to protect all my students from the cruel online world but that is unrealistic. Like mentioned before, kids will always be on the internet. I think an important aspect of moving forward will be to educate others and students about the dangers of online and how to stay safe.
I researched some bullying resources for teachers and kids and here are some that came up:
- Bullying Canada
- Anti-cyberbullying toolkit
- Cyberbullying: What teachers and schools can do
- Cyberbullying- Kids Health
I also found these two very interesting Cyberbullying posters online via Google images. They would be great to hang up in the classroom or talk to students about.