Bullying has become such a big part of our culture and our world. We hear a lot about campaigns to end bullying. More and more the subjects is being put into the light. Such as like just coming off of Bullying month in October and approaching National Anti- Bullying awareness week in November. it is hard to grasp the issue of bullying until it affects you or your family in some personal way.
Five years ago a sweet young girl took to the internet and capture a number of hearts with her story. Unfortunately her cries for help were not hear in enough time. After her post on line She committed suicide. In the days that followed the news that Teenager Amanda Todd had killed herself I was deeply affected and if I am honest still am. For those unaware of this story, Amanda Michelle Todd was a beautiful 15-year-old Canadian teenager whose suicide was attributed to cyber-bullying through the social networking website Facebook. On September 7, 2012, Todd posted a 9-minute video on You Tube entitled My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self harm, in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being blackmailed, bullied, and physically assaulted. In it she mentions when she was in Grade 8 she used video chat to meet new people over the internet and she received compliments on her looks. A stranger convinced Todd to bare her breasts on camera. The individual later blackmailed her with threats to expose the topless photo to her friends unless she gave a “show”. Todd says that during the next Christmas break, police informed her that the photo was circulating the internet. The news caused Todd to experience anxiety, major depression and panic disorder. Her family moved to a new home, but she began taking drugs and alcohol. Her anxiety worsened to a point where she could not leave the house. A year later the individual reappeared, creating a Facebook profile which used the topless photograph as the profile image, and contacting classmates at her new school. Again Todd was teased, eventually changing school for a second time. She says she began chatting to “an old guy friend” who appeared to her. The friend asked Todd to come to his house where they had sex while his girlfriend was on holiday. The following week the girlfriend and a group of others attacked Todd at school; shouting insults and punching her to the ground in the end leaving her beat up in a ditch. Following the attack, Todd attempted suicide by drinking bleach, but was rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped. After returning home Todd discovered abusive messages about her failed suicide attempt posted to Facebook. Pictures of bleach bottles and ditches were tag with her name. Her family moved to another city to start afresh, but Todd was unable to escape the past. Six months later further messages and abuse were still being posted to social networking sites. Her mental state worsening, she began to engage in self-mutilation. Despite taking anti-depressants and receiving counselling, she took an overdose and spent two days in hospital. Todd was teased by other students at her school for her low grades, a consequence of a language based learning disability, and for spending time in hospital to treat her severe depression. At about 6:00 PM (PDT) on October 10, 2012, Amanda Todd was found dead at her home. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to her home in Port Coquitlam, to investigate what they referred to as a “sudden death”. They have since launched a full investigation into Todd’s death. They conducted interviews, reviewed content at social media sites, and monitored internet pages.
This tragedy left me with many questions going through my head. How can any person, let alone so many people be so cold and cruel to another person? Have the people of this world become so uncaring? To do such things as tag pictures of ditches and bottles of bleach with her name. To tease a person about there failed attempts at suicide? Where is our human compassion? Why was there no one there for her? Why did no one stick up for her? How did no one see her pain? This is the kind of story that sadly we are hearing more and more of. It made me think of the movie “To Save a Life” the plot is about Jake a popular kid in school who has his promising future rocked when tragedy strikes his childhood best friend who commits suicide because of being unpopular and being teased. Jake asks himself could he have saved his best friends life? Jake sets out to change his life and tries to make a difference. The theme of the movie is “can one person really make a difference in some ones life?” I believe the answer is yes! But how many of us when it matters most would be there for someone who is in such pain that they feel the best option is to take their own life. In thinking about all this a bible verse came to mind. “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons or daughters of your own people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself”- Leviticus 19:18. Where has the Love for our neighbours gone? Have we become that selfish and self centred that the people around us no longer matter? Have our hearts truly hardened that much? I have always made a pack with myself to make a difference in people’s lives. My success or failure of this pack may be up in the air. But I feel I have for the most part done a good job in fulfilling this. I always feel I could do more. We need to reach out to those around us that are hurting. Especially teenagers and young adults that are struggling with the mounting pressures the world puts on them.
Suicide is the third leading cause of teenage death. Only behind accidents and cancer. A teenager committing suicide is normally due to depression or due to being bullied. There are many forms of bullying in our modern society. The forms of bullying are; physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, with a focus to oppress a weaker person or subordinate or to intimidate with or with out force. 41% of victims say they are bullied for months. 11% of victims say they are bullied for years. Bullying has been around for years, and people have tried to stop it for just as long. The suicide of Amanda Todd put the subject into the spot light. Amanda’s mother continues to put forth the issue of bullying to the front line, taking the tragedy of her daughters death and making something positive out of it but creating the Amanda Todd Legacy. We all need to ensure that no one else endures what Amanda went through. We need to be a voices against bullying. We need to be heard loud and strong across the country. This story is not limited to other places in Canada and around the world. Bullying happens right in the backyard of Almanarah PC in London Ontario. Students right in London have been bullied and are the targets of physical, emotional and cyber bullying.
We need to do something. We need to make a difference. It starts with caring, compassionate people that care about others and are willing to prevent more vulnerable from being the subject of attacks by others. We often can see when someone is depressed and I remember school rumours. Students are well aware of who is being picked on. So there is opportunities to stand up and dare to be different then the norm of the world. Dare to be a Daniel. Dare to stand up even if that might mean standing alone. As a Christians I am called by Christ to live our lives differently. In Matthew 25:40 Christ said “I tell you the truth, what ever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters you have done it to me.” In this parable he tells us “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Matthew 25:35-36. I feel if Christ was here today “bullying” would be in this parable as well. “For you stood up for me when I was bullied” would be what it would say. This is one area of life where we can be the “Good Samaritan” and for opportunities to be angels to those who are suffering in some way.
In the past year I have done this. I have stood up and put my voice forward. Through my skills and abilities in film making. A lot of the motivation was the story of Amanda Todd. it has stuck with me and affected me deeply. This past year I wrote directed and produced a short film called Malicious Attack under the banner of my production company m & s Marshall productions, that follows the story of one Teen girl named Naomi as she is bullied by the another girl Savannah. Savannah bullies a number of the girls in the school. Including a immigrant, a pregnant teen and an outcast. The film is 30 minutes long and has a cast of 72 people from around London, Ontario and area. Filming took place from late 2016 into the summer of 2016. The film currently is in post production. release date is not set. the list of people involved is too long to fully list but the main people who made up the cast are; Katie Ostojic, Morgan Flanagan, Elina Lattanzio, Marley Cabral, Helena Rose, Dina Jasim, Mary Ellen Herder, Corina Leatherdale, Aaliyah Paul, Judy Cormier, Elizabeth Harden, Tiandra Edwards, Ian James Smith, April Booth, Max Steinberg, Kayla Hope Felker, Lesley Chapman, Jamie Rainbird, Serena Webber, Brooklyn Pritchard, Kailey Dennis, Mallaidh Pouti, Melissa Ramos, Jerry Ziler, Kyra Ramos, Kendal Cabral, Rob Herder, Tracey Bell, Emma Lee Willsie and Talitha Wood
November 12th to 17th is Bully Awareness Week. Talking about bullying and suicide is the way to shine light on these topics that are not always discussed openly. Bullying can be stop if people stand together and unit to not allow it to happen to the people around us. Look after the weak, protect the vulnerable. In after glow of this tragedy I say “Where are you fellow citizens. Stand up. Be the light and the hope for those that are suffering and being hurt. Every person needs to make a vow to try ensure that there is never another “Amanda”! I continue to pray for the Todd family. I also hope and pray despite all she endured that Amanda finally has found peace.
The cast and crew of the production would like everyone who is dealing with or suffering with bullying in their lives to know…. You are not alone.
Look for more information about the film in the coming months and check out the film on IMDb at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6156436/combined
#NationalBullyingPreventionMonth #maliciousattackfilm #letsendbullying #STOMPOutBullying #changetheculture