In wake of the Amanda Todd’s recent suicide, brought the issue of bullying is back to in the forefront of media coverage. In fact, a NDP backbencher just put forth a motion in parliament to settep up a committee to study and battle bullying. According to bully.org, approximately 282,000 bullying incidents happen EACH month in Canadian high schools.Bullying is hardly a new problem - but the way it is practiced has changed dramatically with the onset of the social media. realm. While it used to be confined to verbal, physical and social abuse in school, it is now across the internet, on social network sites, emails, text messages, etc.
This new form of bullying is referred to as cyberbullying. The advent of cyberbullying means more people can participate anonymously in bullying a victim. This results in the bullying being more widespread and reaching into all aspects of the victims’ life. Victims have no respite as their tormentors can follow them online wherever they go. Disturbingly, a UBC study found that 30% of Grade 8 - 12 students were victims or participated in cyberbullying.
In other words, it is a growing and prevalent problem. Bullying of any kind can be devastating and leave permanent scars. And with bullying moving to the digital realm, it also means it will can never go away. Any error or mistake in judgement you wish to forget will remain available to whoever wants it.This is what happened to Amanda - she made a mistake and tried to escape the bullying that ensued. But no matter what school she went to, it followed her through social media.
So what is the solution? How do we convince our kids that what they text to a schoolmate may have terrible and permanent consequences? The same UBC study also found that 95% of teens surveyed felt that though they participated or were victims of cyberbullying, they thought it was a joke. But it is clearly not a joke for the thousands of victims, including Amanda Todd.