The Tragedy Of Amanda Todd

Amanda Todd, the Vancouver teenager, who posted a story on YouTube last month about being cyber-bullied, was found dead Wednesday night in Coquitlam, Canada.  The cause according to authorities, was suicide.  When I first saw the of video of Amanda Todd, I had no idea about the seriousness of cyber-bullying.  Another Martial Artist sent it to me, to demonstrate the craziness going on in cyber space.  More importantly, he sent it to me so I could discuss it with all of the kids I teach each week.  As Martial Artists, we are hyper-sensitive to these types of situations because, quite frankly, we hate bullies and we really hate predators.  We teach our kids how to stand up for themselves and what to do if bullied.  Perhaps it’s why many of us who are lifelong Martial Artists began training in the first place.  This is a conversation that needs to be discussed by anyone who teaches children.  This poor young girl made a tiny mistake when she was in seventh grade and it cost her, her life.  She flashed her chest on-line, to someone who was flattering her and one year later, the predator contacted her.  This predator stalked her.  Even after moving he found her.  He knew all of her personal information including her address, names of friends and relatives.  He sent her topless photo to everyone she knew, at one point, making it the opening photo on a Facebook page.  Finally, she could no longer deal with the ridicule and ended her life.  Where were the authorities in this case?  The stalker should have been found and made to answer for his sick behavior.  What can we do to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring in the future?  First, as parents, we must monitor our kids.  It doesn’t matter how angry your kids get at you, you’re not their friends, you’re their parents.  Your job is to protect them.  If they come back at you with “you don’t trust  me”, the proper response is, “I trust you, I don’t trust whoever is out there”.  The world of the internet is a huge place.  There are many interesting and relevant topics and people, but there are also sick, perverse, degenerates, who are able to seek out young girls and boys and catch them because they are vulnerable.  We must support them no matter what they’ve done, even if it upsets us.  It’s certainly preferable to losing a child to suicide.  As young people, they have not honed their critical reasoning skills.  There is a sweetness, a naiveté that’s easy for a predator to take advantage of.  We must therefore prepare our children for the realities of life.  Allowing them unrestricted access to the internet is like allowing them to drive a car without driving lessons.  Chances are, he/she will have an accident.  Amanda Todd’s story must be remembered.  For all of those other young, vulnerable children who are just trying to have fun and grow up without some crazy, psycho trying to get inside their heads.  Speak to your children, show then the video made by Amanda Todd, a month before her suicide.  It can be accessed by simply going to YouTube and typing in Amanda Todd.  We don’t protect our kids by sheltering them, we protect them by arming them with the proper information they need.  We all must be The Catcher in the Rye.

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