Single mom against Bullying

Last night I had dinner with the most incredible woman. Her name’s Amanda, and in a very short period of time, Amanda managed to make a real difference. Over cocktails, she told me that after graduating university with a social work degree, she raised enough funds and begin a small centre for children, for children who have been bullied. The centre became known throughout all the schools in the city, and 1000’s of children began to use her services. Amanda figured out how to get through to kids who are feeling completely isolated, frightened and depressed. Over our main course, she told me that her one small centre has transformed into dozens of centers that now help people of all ages deal with, and recover from, bullying.  By dessert, I felt relieved to know that there are people in the world, like Amanda, who care.

 

My dear readers of this blog, it is with great regret that I must point out one massive flaw with the conversation that I had with Amanda last night. It never actually happened. It could not have been possible happened, because Amanda Todd killed herself 3 months ago at the age of 15. She committed suicide as a direct result of being consistently bullied by her peers and by a cyber-bully.

Tonight I will speak for Amanda, because she was a kid who never had the chance to grow up and become the person I just described. She could have become that person, she may have changed the world for the better, she may have fallen in love and had a family, but instead she became a victim of some cowardly bully who made her feel worthless and trapped in a lonely hell. And now she is dead.

Before I tell a shortened version of Amanda’s story, I should explain what I mean by ‘bullying’.  It is not the same as disputes between equals or friends. Bullying is defined as an unprovoked, continuous campaign of aggression towards someone in order to hurt them…just for the sake of it. Does that sound like normal behavior to any of you?  No me neither. In which case my question to you is: Why do we accept this type of behavior as ‘part of life? or part of growing up?

Amanda story can be watched on youtube, but you sadly, you will not hear her voice.  It begins when she was in year 7 and she went online to meet new people. A guy asked her to show him her breasts. So being 13, and naive, that is exactly what she did.  The man then contacted her and threatened to send everyone she knew the picture of her topless. Soon after everyone in her school, her teachers, her friends and relatives were sent pictures of her breasts. She was teased and shunned by her friends. She became extremely anxious and very depressed. She couldn’t face going to school everyday because she knew what was waiting for her there.

She changed schools but not long past before the cyber bully found her new school and got the names of her new friends and sent them the photo. He then set up a Facebook page with Amanda’s breasts as a profile picture. She once again lost her friends at the new school and all respect from those around her. No one liked her, they called her names. She sat alone in the lunchroom, no one wanted to be near her.

She was publically humiliated daily, beaten up badly, and left in a ditch bleeding. Some kids even filmed the beating,  no one helped her. She went home and drank bleach in attempt to kill herself. But she was found in time and was flushed out. The response from the kids at school where posted on Facebook. Comments like: she deserves to die. I hope she is dead.. For months after, the abuse would not stop. She was alone, she was trapped. For Amanda, there was no future. And so she killed herself.

 

Allow me to repeat the definition of bullying: it is an unprovoked, continuous campaign of aggression towards someone in order to hurt them for the sake of it.   Just think about it: If someone randomly started punching an innocent bystander every time they felt insecure or in a bad mood, the person would most likely be sent to prison, right? And if someone randomly came up to you on the tube and started shouting profanities or accusing you of evil deeds, this person would hopefully be sent for some serious help.

So, I ask you……how are these insane people so different from the cyber bully who publically humiliates his victim every time he feels like it? Or the colleague who attacks her co-worker simply because she is feeling threatened? Or the teenager who writes a Facebook message like ‘I hope she dies’. ‘I hope she kills herself?’

I, personally cannot not see that much difference. Only that the abuse is not random, but calculated. Which makes it worse! Clearly these bullies have serious issues, most likely which stem from their past.  These people are sick and angry.

It is time to start looking at bullying in a different way, we need to recognize that it is not the victim who needs help with her self esteem, she is absolutely fine. She doesn’t need to grow a thicker layer of skin. It is the bully who needs help and who needs punishment, because this person is not only a danger to society, but a danger to humanity.

Should you want to hear this blog in the form of my Toastmaster’s speech, I have attached the link here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPIbSDoVjvU

 

Thank you for reading,

JT (Janet Tarasofsky)

 

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