On Wednesday, Amanda Todd, aged 15, was found dead at his home in Port Coquitlam, Canada. Last month she released a video on YouTube in which she denounced her tragic experience as victim of a cyber stalker, with the following messages: “My story: fighting, bullying, loneliness, suicide, self-harm.”
The sad story of the teenager began at the age of 12 when a stranger with whom she contacted online asked to see her breasts. Since then, she suffered extortion to no end, until one day he made his threats true and spread her images amongst her teachers, friends and family. It was the beginning of the end: a tormented life which culminated in the suicide of the young Amanda.
Again, we would like to remind parents that prevention is the best cure:
- Talk to your children.
- Alert them of how dangerous it is to have virtual friends whom they do not know in real life.
- Persuade them of how risky it is to display provocative or exhibitionistic images on the web.
- Urge them to protect their personal data.
We will not get tired of remembering the safety tips that, once and again, we repeat in La Piazza’s blog posts: Online grooming, Teenage sexting the thin line between fun and shame, Spying on kids, not yes or no but how much?
Amanda’s case may seem extreme, but we must never forget that bullies take advantage precisely of the innocence of their victims; children who are growing up and, in many cases, are completely unaware of the dangers that certain behaviors pose.
So parents, please, try to be more attentive and always talk openly with your children; teach them real cases like Amanda’s or others that unfortunately do exist, so that they are never tempted to expose their privacy to complete strangers. The suffering is not worth it.