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John McKiggan Q.C.
John McKiggan Q.C.
Attorney • (902) 423-2050

Amanda Todd RIP – Can Some Good Come From This Needless Tragedy?

9 comments

Three weeks ago British Columbia teen Amanda Todd was discovered dead in her home in Vancouver. The fifteen year old girl committed suicide after being tormented by bullies online.

Heartbreaking

Amanda posted a heartbreaking You Tube Video a month before her death highlighting the bullying and cruelty she faced. In the video, which now has more than 4 million views, young Amanda reveals that when she was in Grade 7 (12 years old) she attempted to make friends online and she ended up flashing someone (via webcam).

The next year the male contacted her on Facebook and threatened to share the photo to her family and friends if she didn’t “put on a show.” Police eventually informed Amanda that the explicit photo had been sent to everyone she knew on Facebook.

Amanda said she lost her friends, she changed schools, experienced anxiety and depression, and experimented with drugs and alcohol. As a result of the relentless bullying online, Amanda faced bullying in school. The video concludes with Amanda’s request for “someone” to help her and then couple of pictures of her arm, one of which shows her self-induced cuts.

Bully Identified?

The bully who tormented Amanda for years has supposedly been identified as a Wisconsin man by the Internet Hacker group Anonymous. The RCMP has an investigation ongoing into the death of Amanda.

Online is Forever

In Amanda’s video, through the use of one of her flashcards, she makes a point of saying she can never recover or destroy the picture that ruined her life.

Think Before you Tweet

One of the dangers of the online-connected world we live in today is that a momentary lapse of judgement can be quickly broadcasted across social networks causing permanent and widespread social scarring.

Can Some Good Come of This?

Amanda’s mother, Carol Todd, has since made a statement in the hope that some good can come from the tragic death of her daughter:

“I have lost one child, but know she wanted her story to save 1,000 more.”

The message she is sending is both anti-bullying and imploring kids to think about the ramifications of their online activity.

Cyberbullying

With today’s youth spending as much time as they do online, cyberbullying is a disturbing and increasing trend.

Internet Empowers Cowards

One reason cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent is that it allows cowards to remain anonymous (or pretend to be someone else) while they victimize others. The perceived protection of anonymity means that bullies may be more willing to say/do things they would not be willing to say/do in person.

Victims Can Fight Back

But the protective shroud of anonymity can be lifted through a Court order demanding that the Internet Service Provider (ISP) reveal the identity of the cyberbully.

Anonymity Works Both Ways

Recently the Supreme Court of Canada in A.B. v. Bragg Communications Inc ruled that a teenage victim of cyberbullying can proceed anonymously in her proceeding requesting ISPs to disclose the identity of cyberbullies.

This ruling was definitely a victory for victims of cyberbullying. For a more detailed discussion of this case you can check out my article: Supreme Court of Canada Strikes a Blow Against Cyberbullies.

For more information on bullying generally you can also check out my previous article on the Legal Examiner: Childhood Memories Show Lasting Effects of Bullying – More needs to be done

Need Help?

There is a Nova Scotia website and hotline number for kids who are being bullied. The website states that their web and phone counselling is for kids aged 20 and under, it is free 24/7, it is anonymous, confidential and non-judgemental.

Website Phone: 1-800-668-6868

Since March 2012, the Nova Scotia government has hosted a Cyberbullying Taskforce Website. According to the website, the task force focuses on intervention, education, assessment and policy.

John McKiggan Q.C. is an injury lawyer and child safety advocate from Halifax, Nova Scotia. John dedicates his practice exclusively to representing persons who have suffered an injury or loss as a result of medical malpractice, car and truck accidents (or other serious personal injury claims) and institutional liability. He has a special interest in representing victims claims for childhood abuse.

This article was previously published on the Halifax Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

9 Comments

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  1. Luke Nichols says:
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    There is more to this story than what has came out about it. Sure she was bullied and coerced, in some cases to show herself, but she was also mentally ill. Mentally ill people tend to magnify problems bigger than they actually are. It was sad that this happened, but why isn’t someone talking about the world wide problem of mental illness?

  2. Peggy B says:
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    How would you know Luke? Teenage girls are vulnerable, not mentally ill. What are you hiding?

  3. Heather says:
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    Two words: Mental Illness. My closest brother took his life two years ago. Again, two words: Mental Illness. Sure, nobody enjoys being bullied but those two words that I have mentioned are treatable. Had she been treated properly (Canada’s mental health system not the best, or so I hear)this article would never have been written. People please know, IT IS OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP! Never lose hope. Never.

  4. lorenzo rajh says:
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    R.I.P amanda YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED

  5. Luke Nichols says:
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    Peggy, it already came out in some articles that she was under psychiatric care and on antipsychotic medications. Sad what happened to her, and that she felt she had no other way out, but let’s just call it like it is. She had mental issues.

  6. Steven Dunn says:
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    Mental Illness? the question you should asking is this mental illness do to the bullying or was the bullying due to mental illness? Bullying is way out of control in this country and it can destroy lives thats a fact, but no its her fault she was mentally ill. Why dont you geniuses tell me something. Would she have killed herself had she not been bullied?

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    Thanks for all the feedback.

    There is a “chicken and egg” question here. Not all people with mental illness commit suicide. Perhaps she was being treated for depression, but what caused the depression?

    I think the real issue is that Ashley was a vulnerable person who was tormented by others until she felt she didn’t have any other choice than to take her own life. Why did this have to happen?

    Dismissing Ashley’s death as being due to illness fails to appreciate the lasting physical effects that psychological stress can have.

    We need to do more to raise public awareness about the dangers of bullying and the real harm (physical and psychological) it can cause.

    I think discussions like this can only help bring attention to the issue.

  8. Mark Bello says:
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    Amen, John. Thanks for sharing this very sad story. Bullying is not fun and not funny for anyone and often has tragic circumstances. Regards, Mark

  9. Gerrica says:
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    This is really sad. I dont know her but she looks like she was a really sweet and fun girl sad to know people lose their lifes over people who are so mean and choose to bully knowing it kills the inside of another person.