We’ve all heard about, dealt with or even were once the school yard bully. But it seems today that bullying has reached a whole new level. With the ease of accessing someones Facebook or Twitter information bullies have full disclosure of you or your child, sometimes without your knowledge. The Amanda Todd case has put these issues in the spotlight recently. And though my heart aches for the pain and suffering this young woman went through and the grief her family is going through now, it makes me wonder how it got that far. How could a 15 year old go through being stalked and beaten by her peers without police or school involvement. Unfortunately I’ve found recently through first hand experience schools though making progress still see bullying as a “normal” event.
I like many other parents would notice different behavior patterns my child would be carrying out. My own daughter who is a social butterfly and loves school, began coming home upset and afraid to go back to school. After a few days I finally got her to open up and tell me that a young boy was picking on her. He was kicking her, punching her and calling her names that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap had I said them in my youth let alone in first grade. When I asked her if she had told her teacher she said she did and the teacher had told her to ignore the boy. Going to the school the next morning, I met with her teacher and principal to discuss the situation. I was probably most shocked to hear the teacher who was suppose to be educating these children say, ” Well these things happen, it’s best to leave the situation and let it resolve itself.” While I did get this situation resolved without using her “leave it and see what happens” approach, it led me to wonder how it even got to that point. How in just two weeks time did my child go from loving school to wanting to never go again, and why wasn’t his behavior brought to appropriate attention when the staff knew what he was doing.
My daughter’s situation was resolved, however the Amanda Todd case is a haunting one. A 15 year old girl run out of schools, cyber stalked, bullied on and offline, suicidal and harassed. Yet no police? I hate to be the one to wonder where were the parents during this? How did they not notice all this happening? At one point this child was beaten by a schoolmate and lied in a ditch waiting for her father to pick her up. A great deal of her harassment at school had to do with a cyber bully who used Facebook as his own playground. Now much like everybody else I have a Facebook but I wonder how this man could find her through all of the “security” measures they’ve added. Again I hate to ask but why wasn’t her internet being monitored. This child was able to chat with strangers on webcam at a very young age, they told her she was stunning, beautiful and this group of pedophiles for lack of a better word convinced a child to “flash” and it ruined her life and in the end took it.
I know being a working mother it is not possible to be around your children all the time. But maybe as parents we need to pay more attention to our children. No one noticed this young woman’s downward spiral toward the end of her short life, probably because no one knew what to look for. No one knows why tragically ended her life and we probably never will. But what I hope parents and young adults take from this event is to speak up and pay attention. Never accept bullying as the “norm”. Never let a teacher or principal tell you it will resolve itself, and though it’s confusing to distinguish teenage moods, you as a parent when you feel something is wrong or off with your child, ask! It’s your job to keep them safe (Though they won’t see it until they’re grown), monitoring their internet access such as reading their Facebook is your right. If everything really is alright they’ll have nothing to hide and you’ll have a better peace of mind.