All that is left of a make-shift memorial at the bandstand in Memorial Peace Park for a dead teen is a few words scrawled across the cement in a green Sharpie.
These messages of love and sorrow for 15-year-old Amanda Todd are a small legacy to a growing movement set to battle bullying, which is exactly what the former Maple Ridge student wanted when she made a video chronicling her life of torment.
One message could come from her friend of her tormentor as it reads “I’m sorry for my mistakes.” Another read “You will always be considered a hero.”
Either way, friend of foe, Amanda’s video and subsequent death has sparked conversations about bullying – cyber and in-person – and that was Amanda’s original goal.
The Todd family has set up a trust fund, which is intended to fund programs to combat bullying, but the victimization doesn’t end.
“One of our big challenges right now, is false information that is being spread by people who appear to be trying to use Amanda’s story to do harm or make a profit,” said RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen.
Police debunk allegations of Amanda’s stalker’s identity
Thousands of tips are coming in, but police are spending a lot of time sorting rumours and identifying scammers trying to profit from the teen’s suicide.
One unfounded allegation involved the release of information that spread quickly online identifying a man as Amanda’s tormenter.
Another rumour involved the supposed release of Amanda’s autopsy photos. This was quickly debunked by the BC Coroner’s Service, but caused extreme stress for Amanda’s family and distracted police for hours.
The media attention regarding Amanda’s death has led to a number of fake websites and accounts that claim to be fundraising for the Todd family.
“Taking advantage of a family’s grief is despicable. We want to get the word out that there is one real account and anyone who is interested can make a donation at any RBC branch to the Amanda Todd trust a ccount,” said Thiessen.
“We are doing everything we can as quickly as we can. And we want to acknowledge the role of the public in submitting information,” said Thiessen.
“But we want to urge everyone who has been touched by Amanda’s story to respect Amanda’s memory by being a responsible citizen of the Internet and thinking critically about information received online before passing it along.”
Cyber bullying facts:
• Cyber bullying occurs when a child is targeted through technology with the purpose of being harassed, embarrassed, threatened, or hurt by another child.
• It is done on the Internet and mobile phones through text messaging, instant messaging, social media sites, chat rooms, websites, and email.
• Incidents of cyber bullying can involve images intended to hurt or embarrass, cruel rumours, hacking into personal sites, and creating web pages.
• Given the online nature, a single incident can be posted, reposted, and viewed by thousands of people in a few seconds.
• Cyber bullies are often able to remain anonymous, hiding behind false online identities, and online activities such as forums are less likely to be supervised by an adult.
Signs a child is being cyber bullied:
• Changes to their pattern of computer or mobile phone use.
• Mood changes during or after using the computer. May appear anxious, depressed, irritable, or fearful when online.
• Tries to avoid discussions or questions about their online activities.
• May complain of feeling unwell, have trouble sleeping or get nightmares.
• Low self-esteem and putting themselves down.
• Decreased interest in usual activities, school performance, and social situations.
• Threatening to hurt themselves or others.
• May appear isolated from their peer group.
Anyone interested in resources about bullying or cyber bullying can visit www.deal.org, www.bullying.org, www.cyberbullying.ca, or www.cybertip.ca.
Signs a child could be cyber bullying another child:
• Long hours spent online and secretive about online activities.
• Appears agitated or excited when online.
• Uses multiple online accounts or has various online identities.
• Becomes upset or angry if he or she cannot use the computer.
• Aggressive with family and friends; holds a positive view of aggression and has friends who bully and are aggressive.
• Appears unconcerned for others’ feelings and does not recognize the impact of his or her behaviour.
How children can prevent cyber bullying:
• Refuse to participate: Don’t write it; don’t read it; don’t share it.
• Work with other students and school officials to raise awareness and develop rules around cyber bullying.
• Create flyers or build online forums to educate and share anti-bullying messages and strategies.
• Don’t allow your friends to post personal photos or videos of others.
• Be an example to your friends. If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.
• Speak out against cyber bullying and stand up for students who are bullied.
• If you know someone who is being bullied or is a bully, tell an adult.