DeHORNing The BULLies
The web is abuzz on the sad and tragic story of Amanda Todd, the 15-year old girl who took her own life after being cyber bullied. you can read it here.
I did a lot of thinking after I read this story, trying to find how bullying could have such devastating effect on someone, not just Amanda. (Apparently, Amanda’s life fell apart after she was coerced into flashing her breasts online).
Amanda’s online indiscretion came back to haunt her in a way that she could not deal with. It followed her to school and everywhere and she responded the way the bullies wanted her to. She was the perfect victim. Not everyone has the mental toughness and attitude to deal with something like this. Some would shrug it off and tell the bullies to shove it or even call their bluff. You want to show my boobs on Facebook? Go right ahead, who cares? Amanda couldn’t and didn’t and it ate her alive.
Back in my day, bullying was not an issue. The word ‘bully’ was used casually as in, ‘Leave me alone, you big bully!’ No one was ever accused of actually bullying anyone. I was called rude names and embarrassed in front of classmates, heck, even my teacher joined in sometimes. By day’s end, it was all forgotten until the next bullying. I was never depressed because of it even though it was rather belittling to me. My wife confessed that she too was bullied because of her early chest development. Boys would snap her bra and joined the girls in taunting her. Again, it was a distant memory by day’s end for her also. That didn’t mean it was right back then.
In school, I can’t think of anyone who wasn’t harassed or bullied in some way. Unless it came down to a physical confrontation, it was never an issue and no one complained, not even the victim.
After the tragic fact, many questions could be asked. Why didn’t Amanda stay off the computer after being bullied online? Why didn’t she complain to the school authorities? The police, her parent? All moot now in regards to this poor girl.
Why is bullying getting so dangerous? Are people more insensitive or are our kids overly sensitive? I don’t know, I am just asking. Teens everywhere are killing themselves far too often because of bullying. Why wasn’t this happening years ago? What changed? Were we tougher? Granted, the internet wasn’t around so if a girl bared her breasts, it ended up being her word against those who saw.
In my opinion, our changed society is playing a big part in providing bullies with ammunition they never had before. Kids cannot deal with not fitting in and being accepted. Looks are everything. Self esteem is held together by a thread that falls apart at the first snag. Computers have provided a breeding ground for a new form of bullying. Cyber bullies are preying on unsupervised kids with unlimited and uncensored access to websites. Parents are proud of their 8-year old’s ability to surf the net without assistance.
So how do we change this? How do we unarmed the bullies and nullify their game? Anti bullying laws may not be enough. We could start in our homes. One thing I noticed is that most of the victims are silent until their final act shouts out the fact that they were bullied to death. Maybe we as parents need to make ourselves and our home a safe haven that our kids can come to with their issues. We could provide a strong support team that is available to them 24/7, this way they do not feel like they are alone as in Amanda’s case. She should have never felt that she was alone and had no one to turn to. Sadly, it’s only after their death that we tell the deceased that we were there for them if only they had come to us. Maybe in life we did not give them reason to think that way? Teaching kids to be strong mentally, with respect for themselves and each other is also a step in the right direction. Although we sometimes cannot control how our children turn out, our homes are usually where it all starts.
We may not be able to actually stop bullying but we could prepare our children and help them to recognize and deal with all forms of bullying. Bullying is wrong! No one should feel the way Amanda did. If you are a bully or have the tendencies, please seek help. If you are bullied, never think you are alone.
RIP Amanda! You were loved!
- For anyone who ever dismissed online bullying. Amanda Todd RIP [Mike Turner] (ecademy.com)
- Den Tandt: We have remedies for bullying: What’s missing is will (canada.com)
- U.S. pre-teen encourages kids to stand up for each other in Amanda Todd-inspired anti-bullying campaign (o.canada.com)
- Teen girl’s death after posting video about being bullied (thesun.co.uk)
- Not alone: Amanda Todd case emphasises the importance of helping victims of cyberbullying (mirror.co.uk)
- #109: R.I.P. Amanda Todd (fittingkeys.wordpress.com)