I was devastated to wake this morning to read this article in the Toronto Star.
Amanda Todd, according the article, committed suicide this week but, in reading through the published details of the last few years, including the video that she posted on YouTube just a few weeks ago, I’m overwhelmed by the complexity of Amanda’s story. There are too many clues in this room and, although school officials say that Amanda was being helped and supported, it became obvious this week that those supports were not enough.
Over a decade ago, I began working with the Peel Regional Police on a district-wide Cyberbullying program. At that time, not many people had ever heard of the term and many of the dimensions of the problem had, at that time, not been clearly defined. Now the term cyberbullying has become a well-used “box” to tuck away certain examples of unwanted behaviour. But, Amanda Todd’s story runs much deeper than this. In fact, labelling it as a case of cyberbullying sweeps so many other things under the carpet. For sure, technology has something to do with the tragic demise of Amanda Todd, but gathering all of the threads of her story and placing it “over here” as a case of cyberbullying could cause us to miss many of the other factors involved.
Some of these may be school-related, others may involve family and community considerations. Much of this seems so obvious to us–after the fact.
All of us who are charged with the responsibility of caring for young people need to take time to mourn the death of Amanda Todd. And then we need to take the time necessary to pull the threads of her story apart in an effort to build support structures that are even more sensitive and even more responsive to the pain and anxiety being experienced by so many in our community.
Easier said than done, I know, but what alternatives do we really have?