Amanda Todd was a Canadian teenager who committed suicide on 10th October 2012 after being a long-term victim of bullying. Before committing suicide, she recorded a video telling her story and posted it on Youtube. She was fifteen years old, and her story created a major uproar in the press, as it showed the true nature of bullying and the effects it has on the person.
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The two major types of bullying that were evident in Amanda’s story were cyberbullying and verbal bullying. Cyberbullying involves humiliation of people through the use of the Internet (Ministry of Education, 2012). Amanda was blackmailed by a stranger who later distributed the photos of her naked chest around her school, friends, and family. Verbal bullying was the consequence of this event and involved name-calling, insulting, and verbal abuse targeting Amanda. As a result of bullying, Amanda experienced anxiety, self-harm, and suicide behaviors that eventually led to her taking her life. The video mentions that, apart from her attempts to prevent further bullying by moving schools, she also attempted to battle her anxiety by spending more time at home where she felt safe.
The video shows no evidence that Amanda’s teachers or parents addressed the bullying in any way. However, both teachers and parents should have contacted the police and other authorities in order to determine the identity of the stranger who was distributing the pictures, thus preventing further episodes of cyberbullying. Moreover, Amanda’s parents should have contacted the police after she was physically assaulted to make sure that the people who bullied her would not go unpunished. Also, given the fact that Facebook comments were a major sort of stress for Amanda, it could also help to limit her access to the website so that the negative comments and insults would not reach her.
When I was in high school, physical bullying and social bullying were not as widespread as they are in today’s known bullying cases. The students did not initiate relationships to bully people, whereas the number of fights that happened in school was very low and there were no cases when a group of people would gather to physically abuse a student. Many recent cases of bullying, on the other hand, involve some physical abuse: for instance, Yarbruough (2014) describes one of many physical bullying stories covered on the news. However, similarly to the current situation, cyberbullying and verbal bullying, such as name-calling and insulting, were still widespread, especially when I was in high school.
In many cases, girls that have low self-esteem are at a higher risk of being bullied than other girls of the same age (Ministry of Education, 2012). In Amanda’s case, for instance, low self-esteem led to her showing her breasts to a stranger via the Internet, which gave him the opportunity to spread her photos and initiate bullying. Another risk factor is the fact that adolescents spend an increasing amount of time online and are sometimes ignorant of the risks posed by the disclosure of personal information on the Internet.
Therefore, one of the ways to reduce bullying is to raise awareness of cyberbullying among middle and high school students, thus teaching them to be wise in spreading private information and pictures online. Low self-esteem is a major issue for many young girls; however, it could be addressed by promoting body positivity among school students, especially by educating young girls on the sources and nature of modern beauty ideals to prevent them from comparative thoughts. Finally, as CDC (2016) recommends, creating a strict whole-school anti-bullying approach that involves bullying reporting systems is an effective way of decreasing school bullying behaviors. A combination of these practices could help to prevent bullying not just in schools, but in all aspects of teenagers’ lives, thus promoting a safer, more supportive environment in the young communities.
CDC (2016). Understanding bullying. Web.
Ministry of Education (2012). Bullying… be in the know. Erase Bullying. Web.
Yarbruough, B. (2014). Disturbing high school bullying video shows how real this problem is. The Huffington Post. Web.