Amanda Todd’s death hit many of us really hard, for so many reasons. She was unhappy for such a long time. Despite the sadness of what she went through, I think the video she made of her struggles has helped make us all think a bit more about what’s going on with kids today.
What saddens me the most isn’t the horrific way someone decided to try to ruin her life. Don’t get me wrong. It saddens me immensely but somehow, we know there are bad people out there. What really hit me the hardest was that having made a mistake was enough for friends to cast her aside. New friends, years after a photo that she shouldn’t have been put in a position to have recorded for posterity was taken, stopped being friends with her.
I know I don’t know the whole story, and I know I’m not a teenager, but here are a few things I’d like to say… to my kids when they’re ready, to teenagers out there now, and to the me who could have been a teenager in these days if born 20 years later.
- We all make mistakes. I guarantee everyone does things they regret. An error in judgement does not make for a bad person, even if that error in judgement becomes something tangible that can’t be deleted.
- Being there for people who have made mistakes makes you a better person. Forgiving people and helping people is a far kinder and better thing to do as a human being than to judge someone.
- When you make a mistake, you don’t deserve to be punished. You too deserve forgiveness and support.
- The internet and hateful words have more power than you can imagine. The mob of kids you can get going in the school yard is nothing compared to the angry mobs ready and waiting on the internet. Though I don’t believe you should ever say hateful things to people, certainly don’t say them online.
- Don’t say anything online to anyone, or post photos online anywhere, that you wouldn’t want your mother, your grandmother or your school principle seeing. There is no guarantee they won’t be the ones seeing it, so think ahead. I know it’s hard. Try.
- There is nothing weak about being overwhelmed, scared and depressed. Let people help you and don’t make people feel bad for needing help.
- Be careful. Though kids may not be crueler now than they were when I was a kid (they were plenty unkind back then too) there is this new arsenal of tools that can make moments you regret impossible to forget.
I feel for kids who are bullied and who make some bad choices in life. Being a kid is hard. Being a kid who is bullied is harder. Being a kid who can’t figure out how to get away from it must be unbearable. I want to help. I wish I knew where to start.