Recently the Canadian media has focused in on the story of Amanda Todd, a young girl hounded by bullies until she eventually committed suicide. While the story of bullying — or the horrible impact it can have — is not in itself unique, the somewhat haunting legacy of a video left by Amanda is.
The video — without words — shows Amanda as she holds up a series of notes detailing how a small mistake led to exploitation, isolation, violence, and pain.
The media is abuzz. Politicians are vowing to make a difference, and that things will change. But in the grand scheme, they really don't, do they? This is not a new story. Young people have died before. Politians have made speeches before. Schools will counsel. New rules will be made, and forgotten, left unenforced, or even misused. People will forget. Bullying will continue.
Social media, while allowing friends to stay connected, unfortunately also allows people like Amanda to be continually targetted, reducing the safe-havens for those in the crosshairs.I'm sure many here have stories of their own, and slashdot's own trolls are testiment to the despicableness and persistence of those who will do anything to get a reaction.
Some of us survive, perhaps to become stronger. Some — like Amanda — will not.
For those that know bullying, who have been its victims and survived, is there anything we can do? I watched this video wondering if — had I seen it before it was too late — could I have reached out and made a difference?
Is there a place where young — or perhaps even those not so young — can go where they can realize they aren't alone? In my day, I had friends across the world in IRC. People I didn't know but could talk to and share my thoughts on life. But even then, people who understood my particular situation were few and far between.
So where do they go?
The lost. The depressed. Those that could have a bright future if they can just survive their youth.
Where can they find shelter, to survive or even thrive?
Does such a place exist? How can we keep it safe from the aggressors, and how can we help young people find it.
At the end of the video, Amanda states...
I have nobody.
I need somebody.
How can we help these young people discover that they're not alone?