here's another story of a young person who is now dead, believed to have committed suicide, as a result of internet bullying. if you haven't heard the full story of amanda todd, it's best you hear it directly from her:
it's an incredibly sad story, and there are several things that bother me about it.
the initial problem started when someone convinced her to go topless during a chat using a webcam. a year later, the same man threatened to send a topless photo of her to everyone she knew, unless she agreed to further demands. he had accessed her personal information and also knew how to contact the important people in her life. he did end up sending the photos around, and continued to stalk her even after she moved cities and schools.
what i don't understand is why the police didn't look for this man. from the video, it appears the police were the ones to notify her that the photograph had been circulated. it was taken when she was in 7th grade, and i don't know how old she would have been, but it clearly appears she would be underage. that in itself is a crime. then using the photo to coerce her into doing other sexual acts would be another crime. i would think circulation of the photo without her consent would be a crime as well.
that initial circulation, according to her own words in the video, affected her badly, leading to anxiety. how is it that the authorities were unable to find out who this guy was and have him brought to justice? it doesn't make sense to me. even if they didn't do it at the point the photo was first circulated, surely it would have been done at this point:
She changed schools and found a new group of friends in an effort to
leave behind the bullies. Then the man created a Facebook profile, using
her uncensored photo as his profile picture. "Cried every night, lost
all my friends and respect people had for me... again... then nobody
liked me," she wrote in the video.
on top of that, her reaction to the circulation of the photograph is likely to have been the result of feeling shamed. that shame comes from the people around - she talks about people losing respect for her. it's appalling that shaming a young person in this way would take precedence over shaming the person who did it to her. if she had supportive people around her, particularly from her peers, the feelings of shame would have been a lot less. clearly, all the young people around her were judging her for what she did.
and where would they have learned to do that? from the adults in their lives, who either had the same reaction or who didn't bother to correct the reaction of their young ones. it's possible some might not have known this shaming was going on, which suggests to me that they weren't involved enough in the lives of their young ones to know about they way their kids were mistreating others.
then there was the further incident of a group of young girls from her old school beating up this young woman, for the crime of having sex with the boyfriend of one of them. while she chose not to press charges, i believe those kids could have been tried for the crime, with use of witness statements from the teachers who came over to see what happened, from the 50 or so witnesses from the new school, and from some of the members of the group from the old school. ms todd need not have had to testify at all. the fact that nothing was done, the total lack of consequences for the physical violence, empowers the bullies and add to the culture which allows bullying to keep happening.
while i'm talking about young women being bullied, let me also mention malala yousafzai, the young pakistani woman fighting for her life after being shot by a member of the taliban. what has been done to her is appalling, and it is heartening to see the outpouring of support from around the world. i really do wish her all the best, and hope she survives and continues to be an inspiration to young women in pakistan and around the world.
one of her "crimes" was to be seen to align herself with the very western powers who are responsible for invasion and occupation of afghanistan, and for the drone attacks in northern pakistan. that would have been motivation enough for those who killed her. but that they think there is any kind of religious justification for the attempted murder of a young woman, effectively still a child. even if they believed she had committed a crime, there is no room for vigilante justice without any kind of trial.
i can only hope that the outpouring of support and prayers around the world will lead to some kind of cultural change in the places where it's most needed.