Is the world a safer place for kids since Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd killed herself on Oct. 10, 2012 after posting that heart-wrenching video seen around the world? No, but we have learned a few things since.
We’ve learned, for example, that the internet can be a rough, cruel world for kids unless they are taught how to protect themselves and their privacy — and we know that the internet is a powerful tool for ruining someone’s reputation.
We’ve seen that vulnerable girls and boys are easily exploited online by voyeurs who lure them with false names and post their pictures and videos, sometimes with devastating consequences.
We learned, as well, that rape culture is so deeply ingrained in our society that Canadian university students didn’t see anything wrong with frosh week chants about sex with underage girls until authorities found out and put a stop to it.
We’ve learned that it’s easy to troll the internet for photos and then post them, without consent, as a Facebook dating chat room did with a picture of Rehtaeh Parsons (the Nova Scotia teen who committed suicide after photos of an alleged gang-rape were posted).
Simply put, laws are inadequate for dealing with meanness and stupidity on the web. Even Port Coquitlam couldn’t find a way to legislate against bullying.
But there has been some action, too. B.C.’s ERASE Bullying website, available during the school year, provides resources for families with bullying concerns, and administrators and school counsellors are being trained to identify and support at-risk youth.
The Kids Help Phone got more publicity about its services for kids and School District 43 has a new digital responsibility policy for teachers, students and parents working on the web.
Even workplace bullying has received a higher profile in the year since Todd’s death, with a new Workplace BC website addressing the issue, and the BC Coroner’s Service studied youth suicide this fall and recommended more collaboration and resources.
Will all this talk prevent another Amanda Todd situation from occurring?
Maybe not, but we can no longer have ignorance as an excuse.