(Warning. Be prepared for two things. These are the words of a girl who took her own life last week -- about a month after she posted this. She was also a "cutter" and there is a photo of her "cut" arm at the end.)
This is Amanda Todd, a Canadian 15-year old who, it is believed, committed suicide after being bullied relentlessly. Of course, there will be the usual discussion of whether bullying was the root cause but it's time we realize that kids are walking around with huge burdens and bullying can only add to their despair.
Sounds like Amanda made a bad choice online a few years back -- she must have been only about 13. She flashed her chest online for a horrible, horrible person who not only pressured her to do it but then shared it...and then threatened her. What would have once been an extremely mortifying and frightening set of events to get past, is now something she couldn't get away from.
Who hasn't done something they would like to forget?
I've said this before but I can't say it enough. We are in the middle of a generation gap. Nice kids are doing things online -- whether they're feeling "brave" or feeling vulnerable -- that you would never have expected them to do offline. We don't know enough about their online culture and we're not preparing them for this new neighborhood. We teach them to look both ways before crossing the street...or not talking to strangers -- and this is no different.
How do we parent them when they have these online lives? Get educated ourselves and educate our children. It's not that hard and the benefits are lifelong.
Make sure our kids are learning from a young age how to be good digital citizens. The best set of tools and information I've seen is from Common Sense Media. (And their name is PERFECT. Some of this is just common sense.)
The kits are affordable and are ideal for parent conferences.
There's never been a better time to step in to teach them how to treat others and how to expect to be treated -- offline or online.
(There are really good resources out there if you feel a child is despondent and considering suicide. Vermont's Center for Health and Learning's initiative UMatter is one of them.)
If you feel that this is not that important, just remember Amanda's own words at the end of this searing video,
I have nobody. I need someone.