Amanda Todd bullying suicide: "Nice it Forward" in her memory
What can we individually do after the case of Canadian teen Amanda Todd, who committed suicide after cyber bullying drove her to produce a video detailing her cruel experiences? Join the "Nice it Forward" campaign, in her memory.
is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..
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Police, parents and school officials have cited Ms. Todd’s case in saying they need to increase efforts – and possibly laws – against this sort of harassment, in which perpetrators target victims through cell phone text messaging, on Facebook, or in other neighborhoods of the virtual world. Meanwhile, social networking sites have hosted tens of thousands of comments decrying what many see as this overwhelming, negative phenomenon in the lives of today’s teenagers; the nasty comments on memorial pages set up for Todd seem to only reinforce the sense that cyberbullies are omnipresent.
It’s hard not to join in with the anger; to feel like there’s just something terribly wrong with society, teens and the Internet today.
But even in the face of horrible stories like this one, it’s important to step back.
While many studies have shown that a large number of teens experience cyberbullying, which the Pew Internet & American Life Project describes as online harassment that is repeated over time and involves a power imbalance between a perpetrator and a victim, most do not.
Research tends to put the number of teens who experience online harassment between 9 percent and 33 percent; much of the difference in those numbers comes from how research questions are asked and from the demographics of those interviewed. Most teens (67 percent), according to Pew’s own research, think bullying and harassment happen more often offline.
Moreover, there is a new trend among teens using the Internet, reports Justin Patchin, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eu Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. This, he writes, is the push to “Nice it Forward,” an effort to use social media to say nice things about other people.