For those who might not know her yet, let me introduce you to Amanda Todd. A girl from a small town that matters in a big way.
This little girl matters because her story serves as a chilling example of how bullying can forever silence the light in our young girls. What makes her story so chilling is the realization that this could happen to any girl, at anytime, from anywhere.
She was simply a sweet young girl trying to navigate the troubled waters of her teenage years. Unfortunately, her one mistake led to years of torture and humiliation that not even her parents could protect her from.
Please watch the video below to as Amanda explains her story. While we will never fully know the heartache this poor girl endured, her courage speaks volumes.
For me, what makes this story so tragic is that I can see how the situation unfolded so easily. Any mom can look back into her teen years and relate to Amanda. While our decisions and reactions may have differed, we faced those same pressures. These days, however, our girls are being sexualized at even younger ages, dealing with bullying not just in person but online, and finding it even more difficult to get attention from their time-strapped parents.
The harsh reality is that as our involvement in social media increases, our interpersonal skills such as empathy decrease. This is not just speculation, but fact. Recent research presented at the Association for Psychological Science conference found that college students are 40% less empathetic than their counter parts 30 years ago. The research shows the sharpest drop in empathy occurring over the last 9 years. I hardly find it a coincidence that exactly 9 years ago MySpace made its debut, followed quickly by Facebook and the many other social networking sites.
Amanda Todd’s story is the face of those statistics. Our young girls are under attack online and often at the hands of other young girls who are just as troubled and vulnerable. In desperate attempts for attention, social media is turning into a battle ground for our teens. As parents, I believe we need to protect our girls from these threats online just as vigorously as we would offline. Social media and texting isn’t always as innocent as we’d like to believe and needs our supervision, vigilance, and discussion.
Our best defense in preventing another tragedy like Amanda’s is communication with our young girls.
It is our responsibility to let them know they are NOT alone.
Please click here for information regarding the signs and symptoms of bullying.