Before committing suicide last Wednesday, Port Coquitlam teenager Amanda Todd created a heart-wrenching YouTube video about the endless cycle of cyber-bullying that fueled her despair.
Who wasn't torn apart by the stark black and white video of Amanda holding up cards inked in black marker that told her story? About how a tormentor used an image of a single moment of her "flashing" her breasts and used it to blackmail, mock and shame her into a cycle of self-harm.
But it's not enough for us to mourn Amanda and ask what could have been done. We must do more. It's time everyone decides what to do about it.
It used to be OK to drink and drive, be racist, misogynistic or homophobic. But like all atrocious behaviour, social pressure makes it unacceptable. We need to do the same with bullying and cyber-bullying.
Parents need to model the online behaviour that they want their children to emulate. We need to be wary of what photos or comments we post on our own, friends', families' and strangers' sites.
We need to monitor our kids' online activities to prevent them from evolving into victims or bullies. Quick to check our children's cruelty or unkindness in the real world, we should be prepared to cut it short online, too.
Teens need to take responsibility for the behaviour of their peers. Positive comments for victims and chastising bullies are a good form of peer pressure.
We need to remind youth that their entire self-worth and sense of self is not to be wholly invested in a virtual reality.
Kids need to connect with family and friends in the real world in real activities and programs to give them a better sense of perspective about what the online world can offer them.
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