My Opinion

Take a Stand Against Bullying – Amanda’s Legacy

[Update 12/10/2012: Read Amanda’s story as told by her mother portraying the dark reality of cyberbullying and pedophile predators: Amanda’s Story: In Her Mother’s Words.]

This morning during my regular Facebook morning scan I came across the video posted above. It was shared by a friend. The video shows a girl holding up cue cards telling a horrifying story of bullying and harassment at the hands of peers at several different schools. Even though I have seen several of these videos before this one left me stunned. Then I found out that some time yesterday the girl in the video, Amanda Todd, ended her own life. She was 15 years old.

I have myself been scarred by bullying, and this story has ripped up more scars than I knew I had.

Bullying is a serious problem and it is one we need to address right now. This simply cannot stand. I have no simple solutions, but we owe it to Amanda and all the others like her to do something, and do it now.

To the bullies:

You are better than this. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Show some compassion. Be the better person.

To the bullied:

You are not defined by what other people say about you. And though it seems like an empty phrase, things do get better.

To us all:

If you see someone being bullied, do something about it.

You are not alone

If you feel bullied, shunned, discarded, mocked, ridiculed, or alone, know that you are not alone. There are millions of us who have shared your pain, and we are all here to talk to you and help you through it. You deserve a great life. Don’t let anyone convince you to take it away.

I am here if you need me.

[The original Vancouver Sun story by Gillian Shaw: RIP Amanda: Social media networks tell story of Vancouver area teen who committed suicide over cyberbullying]

By Morten Rand-Hendriksen

Morten Rand-Hendriksen is a Senior Staff Instructor at LinkedIn Learning (formerly specializing in AI, bleeding edge web technologies, and the intersection between technology and humanity. He also occasionally teaches at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. He is a popular conference and workshop speaker on all things tech ethics, AI, web technologies, and open source.

7 replies on “Take a Stand Against Bullying – Amanda’s Legacy”

I am getting the impression that the level of bullying has escalated in spades since my 70’s childhood years. Though I only got picked on due to my last (maiden) name, it was mostly done light-heartedly.

I can’t imagine how instant videos, facebook and the like have made this a worldwide problem. It’s no longer left inside the classroom. Now a photo, remark, or other embarrassing part of one’s life can go round the world within minutes.

Hopefully the nasty ones out there really take this to heart and see that a life can be spared simply by being a better human being. Hating wastes too much energy.

I followed this story from this morning as well. I have never been as struck by a video before. I felt her pain to my bones. Teenage years can be so brutally hard. You cannot imagine a world outside of the one you know. You believe all your worth is wrapped up In how you are perceived and how others publicly define you. Although I had a very busy day today, I took time to look at Amanda’s FB site, at her twitter account and at the instant RIP sites. It gave me a glimpse into her life. You can never know the whole story behind a person, but she seemed to be strong. She posted pictures and loving words just days before she died. But then again, they say people who have made up their mind will find a sudden peace and tell those they love how they feel. She wanted to know how to make her video more accessible to people. When I saw it it had 300 views now it has upwards of 15,000. It is such a terrible loss for this world when someone so brave did something so unselfish as to put her story out there and never see the change that she may have effected. In the aftermath of this, what truly sickens me is the horrible comments people continue to post – blaming the victim and ridiculing what she did. I am with you Morten. Let me know if I can do more.

I’m heartbroken by this, as I always am when similar stories become public. What devastates me isn’t only the tragic ending of a young life, but the absolute cruelty and cowardice of the bullies themselves. And it boggles my mind that this torment continues, despite all the stories, despite all of the pronouncements that ‘This has to stop.’

But it doesn’t, does it? I was bullied as a kid in the 60s and 70s. The heartlessness and ignorance of these bullies continues. But now the damage done to bullied kids has been escalated by social media. The hurt now has no boundaries.

We need to take a hard look at ourselves, our communities, and our morals. We need to set an example for kids that empathy, compassion, understanding, courtesy and kindness are still important parts of being human. We also need to practice what we preach. I’m afraid that might not be happening as much as it should.

Lastly, and I know freedom of speech is held dearly – but I need to ask the question.

Should there be a minimum age for internet use? Could it even be enforced?

Thank you for the opportunity to post this.

@Andrea: Keep a diary, she’s the best friend you’ll ever have. The first part of the word “bully” is bull, which brings to mind the phrase “like a bull in a china shop”. If you are a quality human being, you are delicate, like china. If you are a bull, you are not. These are the musings I often put into my diary and I managed to survive those ugly, lonely years before I learned to laugh at the bulls in my life.

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