I've never been one for taking on a cause and fighting for it unless it truly touches my heart. It may make me sound like the Ice Queen but, I don't stop for those people who literally corner you in the street trying to get you to donate to their charities. Quite frankly trying to force me in to giving money isn't going to do anything but make me cross! I can decide for myself whether or not I think a cause is worthwhile and pressing me up again the glass of the nearest shop while trying to 'persuade' me aka harass me to giving you my bank details in the street-well, it's not going to happen!
I do care about causes like Cancer Research, Alzheimers charities, charaties for Depression and Post Natal depression etc-things that have affected my life, or the lives of people I've known. I also donate on red nose day, poppy day and the likes of sports relief etc-although I'm not allowed to watch them for long or I end up sobbing my heart out and would probably want to donate my entire house, contents, sweetie cupboard and all! I'm just trying to point out that I'm not a hard faced cow here!
So one set of charities that I've not really been au-fait with are the anti bullying ones. I hold my hands up now, I was totally uneducated about them, their cause and in general- bullying. In my opinion (before) bullying had always been a term banded around so much, too much. Kind of hard to tell the wheat from the chaff kind of thing. And like anything I felt people used it as an excuse for their own behavior. With children I assumed there were bad cases, but again felt it was used as a branding for well, kids being kids. Basically like when I was younger, there was less bullying and more 'kids just being kids'. BUT I now know how wrong I was...
Have you heard about teenager Amanda Todd? Well if you haven't I'm, sure you will. She's made headlines across the world for her suicide last week. The whole thing makes me cry every time I think about it. Amanda was bullied online and in person for years, sending her from a happy normal teen, to a depressed girl who tried drinks and drugs to escape her torment. Before she took her own life she had previously tried to commit suicide trying things like drinking bleach.
The beautiful teen from Vancouver was online one day and chatting to friends on a chat room when a guy who told her she was beautiful, who flattered her, asked her to flash her chest-which she did. Now although I did question this, I read a quote about it which perfectly sums it up... " Being sexually curious is not an abnormal thing as an adolescent. It's
quite developmentally normal. The problem is that when you combine it
with the online world then the effects can be devastating". It was particularly devestating for Amanda because the guy behind it contacted her a year later threatening to expose the pictures unless she did it again. Sadly he did send the pictures out to everyone Amanda knew which saw her exciled from her peers and friends. From then he stalked her, setting up pages online to make sure she could never escape her mistake. Others got 'in' on the harrassment and one guy lured her in to a meeting under the assumption he liked her and wanted to be her boyfriend, only so his girlfriend could beat her up later on. Her dad found her in a dicth afterwards....She never escaped the torment, people followed her despite her parents moving her around. The poor, poor child was a victim in every way. It destroyed her, she sought escape in any way and never got it. In the end she hung herself last wednesday just to escape the treatment she received undeservedly.
What most suprises me, saddens me and makes me reach for more tissues, is the video she made a month before. It's been one of the most watched videos on you-tube since her death last week. In a series of hand written notes, Amanda tells her story from beginning to end. It's one of the most harrowing things I've ever watched.
As a mother, it kills a little bit of me inside to hear about this. A child being tormented, chased, stalked and harrassed for just being....a child. Every single one of us makes mistakes, we are born in a world where we have choices, where we are blessed to have freedom. Why was one beautiful young girl punished by far from sinless fellow humans for something so many young people do? The outcome of her mistake was far greater than her action. Her life made unlivable by people with no right to judge her in this way.
As a mother I want to hold her, to tell her it will be ok, to comfort her and love her better. As a girl I want to tell her I would be her friend and as someone older and wiser I want to tell her that her mistakes wont deffine her forever. But it's all too late...there's now one more Angel in heaven.
Bullying was not something I understood, or fully knew the consequences of until I heard about Amanda Todd. Now I feel guilty for ever passing judgement on 'bullying'. I know now I was lucky to live in an age where bullying either wasn't as rife or wasn't as talked about. One things for sure though, with the over use of the internet and social media, our children are now being born in to a world where bullying breeds and spreads like wildfire, giving people a platform to vent their own insecurities, their own issues on to others while hiding behind a screen-physically and emotionally. Bullying is just small minded people, trying to make others feel as bad as they do inside.
So awful do I feel for Amanda's story, for her family and for the cause she battled that I'm going to do some fundraising for anti bullying charaties although of yet I'm not sure which one, I'm sure one in her name will be opened soon and I would love to donate the money raised to that. For now though, kiss your children and hold them tight. I know I will be keeping Joshua closer to me today...
Rest in Peace Amanda.