Story of the Year: Amanda Todd video put spotlight on bullying

Jason Hewlett / Kamloops Daily News
January 3, 2013 01:00 AM

Reporters at The Daily News were asked to choose what they think qualifies as the Kamloops 2012 Story of the Year. We'd like to hear from readers which story they think deserves the honour by voting online starting Thursday in the sidebar to the left.

The stories under consideration are:

* Bullying

* Missing or murdered women

* Use of Twitter in reporting

* Royal Inland Hospital expansion

* Kamloops bicentennial


The very public suicide of Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd struck an international nerve and, it could be argued, put the spotlight on bullying like never before.

Todd, 15, killed herself on Oct. 10. But it's the nine-minute long YouTube video called My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide, Self Harm that drove the tragedy home for a lot of people.

By now many of us have watched Todd's disturbing story unfold in black and white. We know about the photo a stranger posted of her online and the torment she experienced at school and electronically.

The video has since gone viral, receiving upwards of two million views. An Amanda Todd memorial page on Facebook has more than a million likes and vigils have been held in her memory all over the globe.

But Todd's suicide is more than just the sad story of one teen. Her ordeal is not a solo one. There are few people who haven't been bullied at one time or another, some worse than others.

As the video hit the mainstream, reports of bullying spiked, even here in Kamloops. Sa-Hali secondary student Leah de Zeeuw wrote a song for Todd that also expressed her own grief at being bullied.

If anything good has come from Todd's experience, it's that it put bullying in the public consciousness in a way that it never has before.

It shed light on the sexual exploitation that proliferates the Internet and prompted the province to let children report bullies via a website. Premier Christy Clark has said bullies should be treated like any perpetrator who commits a crime.

And it's prompted people to take a deeper look at the harm victims of bullying experience. For too long, bullying has been viewed as a rite of passage, an integral part of character building. People who are bullied need to "suck it up" or learn to fight back.

But Todd's video showed that sucking it up and fighting back aren't a solution. Her bullies relentlessly targeted her at school and online. The abuse continued even after her family moved.

Todd's suicide, and the video she posted, is poised to create a legacy of change as long as public attention doesn't shift to the next big story or tragedy. Given the degree that she's touched people, one can hope that a huge step has been taken to ending bullying once and for all, and that her death wasn't in vain.

That's why hers is the story of the year.

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