Unfortunately, Amanda Todd is not the only soul lost to the crime of sextortion. We are growing up in this increasingly public and digital environment that presents infinite opportunities for predators to take minor slips of judgment and use them against you for your destruction. I regret to think that there are actually people out there that actually seek thrill in ruining the lives of young children. It is absolutely disturbing to be and I do not believe that I will ever be able to understand and wrap my head around this fact.
Amanda Todd’s story rings in loud and clear for me, simply for the fact that it was so recent and I remember hearing about it when I was in high school. Adolescents like Amanda view the Internet as an opportunity to create an online identity representing any person that they dream of being. They can literally recreate and edit any aspect of their life. This aspect can seem exciting at first, but as naïve and young as they are, they are unable to understand at this point just how quickly their entire life can be exploited. Unfortunately, at the expense of Amanda Todd’s life, many children learned that this aspect is true in fact.
The Internet is simultaneously this insanely alarming, dangerous, and magnificent place all at once. As much as we want to protect and govern our children’s and students’ access and identity on the web, it can be almost impossible to completely control. I believe that one of the best ways to bring justice to this reality is to raise the awareness and ensure that all students know the implications of their actions on the web. We need them to know all of the good that the web can bring but also the harm it can cause, especially in cases like Amanda Todd’s. All it took was a split second lapse in judgment and her life literally came to a slow and painful end. That judgment caused immense pain not only to herself, but her family and friends.
In a teacher’s role is the opportunity to raise this awareness that could potentially save the lives’ of the students within your classroom. We have the opportunity to teach the appropriate uses of the digital world and how to create positive digital citizenship strategies. It is also our obligation to teach the exact opposite. This is a real issue and it is an incredible weight on the shoulder of educators, parents and citizens to do what we can to ensure that there are no more cases like Amanda Todd occurring on our watch.
Statistics on suicide rates due to cyberbullying:
Unforgettable Cyberbullying Cases: