Lecture targets digital bullying
Carol Todd stops herself from talking and apologizes because she is about to tear up.
Her 15-year-old daughter, Amanda Todd, killed herself almost two years ago but the pain still is deep.
Carol shares the story of her daughter, who posted a video on YouTube prior to her death using a series of flashcards to tell her experience of being blackmailed, bullied and physically assaulted — it has generated over 17 million views.
Knowing that Amanda’s story might help just one other parent, youth or teacher, keeps Carol speaking.
“My perception, my opinion, is that not only is it the school that needs to be proactive but the parents need to be proactive. They need to know how to deal with it, how to talk about it and bring back family values that have been slowly disintegrating,” said Carol, during a talk at the Penticton Art Gallery last weekend where Styx & Stones, an exhibit about bullying opened.
Recognizing a need in the community for information and resources available to victims of cyber bullying and sexting, the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society and the Okanagan National Emergency Transition House, as well as numerous other community organizations, have partnered together for a project called Think B4 U Send.
This project consists of a youth online awareness campaign, a speaker event and workshop that will take place during National Victims of Crime Awareness Week April 6 to 12.
“Things have changed with the onset of technology and digital life, kids aren’t going outside as much,” said Todd.
“We need laws, community, family we all need to work together on the topics of bullying, cyber-bullying, social media, education, awareness and ultimately mental health.
“The damage they get from comments being made and emotional states and confidence is dropping and they get into the state where they think they are worthless.”
It is why SOVAS and ONETH teamed up to create a video to help explain to parents, youth and the general public both the possible criminal implications sexting and online exploitation can have and the impacts it has on the victim.
It was released this week at www.sovas.ca. Carol sums it up perfectly in an analogy.
“Take a piece of paper with hateful words and you crumple it. If you uncrumple it, you can’t get the wrinkles out, they are embedded. Hurtful words embed in you forever. They may come out in you in different times and they often pile on top of each other,” said Todd.
“Always think of that piece of paper that you uncrumple and the wrinkles that you can’t iron out. We don’t need anymore crumpled souls around.”
Carol emphasized the importance of sitting with kids and understanding what they are doing online, stressed technology free times with your family and teaching youth the words, pictures and videos they put online will be there forever so determine their relevance before you post.
“With the advancement of technology and online social networking comes another avenue for bullying and harassment,” agreed Amberlee Erdmann, SOVAS resource development co-ordinator.
On April 10 Misty Cockerill, survivor of the Abbotsford killer and an advocate for victims’ rights, will be speaking at the Penticton Indian Band Community Hall located at Lot 49 Green Mountain Rd.
She will talk about her story, victims of crime and recovery, victimization by the media, cyber bullying, online exploitation and the resources that are available. The speaking engagement starts at 5 p.m. with a dinner, followed by opening remarks at 5:45 p.m., Cockerill speaking at 6 p.m. and a symbolic fire lit at 7:30 p.m.
Diane Sowden, executive director of Children of the Streets Society, will host a workshop on April 11 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Okanagan College Lecture Theatre (Room-PL 107).
She will take participants through an afternoon of information and strategies to prevent sexual exploitation of children. Sowden will share her experience of her family being directly affected when her 13-year-old daughter was drawn into a life of drug addiction and sexual exploitation.
Workshop topics will include youth sexual exploitation in B.C., youth online exploitation, online image sharing and sexting, child pornography, an overview of legal issues surrounding sexual exploitation and family support and resources available.
This workshop is free and for service providers, teachers and parents. To register email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-493-0800 ext. 206.