A tribute from Russia to Amanda Todd.

A tribute from Russia to Amanda Todd.

Grieving for bullied teen around the world

Amanda Todd's story strikes chord with youth and their parents across the world

The messages and condolences have been coming in from all corners of the globe as the story of tormented teenager Amanda Todd has spread virally via social media, broadcast, and print news.

The Youtube video Todd posted a month prior to her death detailing the harassment she suffered from an online predator and school bullies, how she descended into drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self harm, has been viewed close to 20 million times.

Her story has prompted teens from as far away as Texas and Russia to post messages of sympathy on the many memorial Facebook sites that have popped up in the past week since Todd’s death.

Nina Montané is a television journalist with the French news program 66 Minutes, which has sent crews from Paris to the Lower Mainland to cover the tragic tale.

Montané says Todd’s video, which has been shared online throughout France and much of Europe, struck a chord with viewers for a number of reasons. Younger viewers identified with the angst Todd expressed in her video, and her feelings of loneliness.

“Her story is a warning message, and I think everyone identifies with what she went through,” says Montané. “She was so isolated and she made this SOS, and it didn’t really help her. It’s sad she only gets the attention now, when it is too late.”

However, older viewers, especially parents, are having a different response.

“Older people are really scared by what happened to [Todd], because they don’t understand teenagers’ habits on the Internet,” says Montané. “Many wonder how she could think she wouldn’t be recorded [after exposing herself online].”

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter allowed for the rapid spread of the online video, as both teens and parents shared Todd’s story.

“The fact that she made this video on Youtube, everyone across the world could see it,” says Montané.

Martin Laba, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University specializing in media and pop culture analysis, is surprised by the global impact of Todd’s story.

“You’d have to have been living in a hole to have not heard about her story,” says Laba. “It truly went viral, and was particularly driven by social media.”

While social media has played a significant role in the spread of Todd’s story, it has also created a forum where bullying and harassment runs rampant, as is evidenced by the volume of abuse and criticism of Todd circulating online.

“Social media has democratized media and given access to the public they haven’t had before,” says Laba. “By the same token, there’s an uncontrollable, uncontainable dimension. This case demonstrates those problematic dimensions of social media.”

Laba sees Todd’s story as an urgent and critical call for education of young people about the nature, consequences, and dangers of social media.

“There are chilling consequences for young people online,” he says.

Laba says while the mainstream media response to Todd’s story has shone a light on many issues facing today’s teenagers, the conversation is often oversimplified.

“The mainstream media has done a very good job of creating a sense of the urgency and the critical nature of this social issue,” he says. “But bullying itself is very ill-defined. Mainstream media should be a place where the nuances and complexity of this issue are discussed, but it doesn’t allow for such reflection. Instead the mainstream media tend to give us rather simplistic answers, and that does a disservice.”

That same media attention has also been an impediment to the police investigation, he notes.

But Todd’s story is far from unique, he notes, and it is becoming more common.

Suicide numbers among females aged 10 to 19 have risen from 50 cases in 1980 to 77 in 2008, according to a report published by the Public Health Agency of Canada earlier this year.

What makes what happened to Todd different, said Laba, is the video she published prior to her death, and the role the Internet played, both before and after her death.

“We know that the kind of torment she experienced is epidemic, especially among teens. But the media, particularly broadcast media, needs quick and crisp explanations,” explains Laba. In this case, Todd, herself, provided one with her online video.

“The story is so poignant and so terribly tragic … It was a simple and direct route to what the media and the public often refer to as closure.

“But this is a case that shouldn’t be so easily summed up in this way.”

Todd’s story touches not only on bullying and the dangers of social media, but the sexualization of youth, depression and mental illness as well.

“In the end, we really don’t know Amanda Todd, she’s a stranger,” says Laba. “We have some insight into the torment of her life, but that’s all we have.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students in Garibaldi secondary’s music program rehearse for Swing into Spring. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge high school adding a spring to their step

Swing into Spring concert to raise money for the Garibaldi secondary’s music program

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of Maple Ridge man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Langley, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge still driving more, taking transit less

A sign to students outside Pitt Meadows secondary. The school is not currently listed by Fraser Health as having COVID-19 exposures. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Four more Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows schools exposed to COVID-19

Cases at three public schools and Maple Ridge Christian

Born and raised in Maple Ridge, Ernie Daykin is still astonished at this community’s beauty. He recently captured this image of the snow covered peaks of the Golden Ears in the background, and cherry blossoms in the foreground. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View of Golden Ears from many different perspectives

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

$4,800 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to businesses inside of the mall

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
‘Prolific offender’ charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Kao Macaulay, 23, is accused of breaking into home on March 30

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read