VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – This week’s death of a Port Coquitlam teen after reportedly being bullied online has put a painful light on a growing problem.
It’s called cyber-bullying and it’s a real part of the teen world.
SFU education professor Wanda Cassidy says it means there is no longer an escape for victims of bullying.
“Many of the bullies, you don’t know who they are. It has that sense of anonymity. On the playground, you know who the bully is and you might try to avoid the bully but on the Internet, if you don’t know who that bully is, you don’t know how to avoid that person,” notes Cassidy.
She says it’s important that schools don’t pretend this problem isn’t happening, but address it head on.
“I think there’s all kinds of opportunities to develop curriculum around cyber-bullying. For example, an English curriculum that talks about communication and strategies for writing skills…why not incorporate material on writing online and writing in positive ways.”
Cassidy adds it’s important that parents get to know their kids online habits and have an open dialogue about how to treat other people on the Internet.
Meanwhile, Premier Christy Clark says the anti-bullying program being introduced in BC schools includes training that involves teachers confronting classroom bullies.
“The perpetrator needs to be punished, and the victim needs to be supported and protected from further retribution from the bully, so it’s a unique kind of dispute. We have to make sure educators understand it’s uniqueness,” she believes.
Social media reactions turn negative
Amanda’s tragic story continues to dominate social media sites, but along with all the tributes and emotion, there are many negative and disturbing comments surfacing.
RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen says investigators are dealing with dozens of calls from teens across the country upset by what they’ve seen the last few days.
“On social media sites with inappropriate comments, inappropriate postings of photos to do with Amanda Todd and it’s something that needs to stop, and they’re calling us, asking us to do what we can to try and stop this social media furor that’s going on out there,” explains Thiessen.
He adds this isn’t the first time there’s been a social media backlash, pointing to the Pitt Meadows rave sex assault in 2010.
Mounties are asking for your help as part of their investigation into this sad case. Sgt. Peter Thiessen says police are conducting a full investigation, adding it’s hard to lay charges in such cases.
The BC Coroner says early indications suggest Amanda took her own life. Before her death, she posted an anti-bullying video on YouTube that has gone viral. Her mother Carol has set up a trust fund in her name. You can go to any Royal Bank of Canada branch for more information.
Resources for kids and parents
The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre is available to help province-wide.
Stop A Bully is a national anti-bullying reporting system.
Kids Help Phone is available anytime for youth of all ages. Call toll-free 1-800-668-6868.