(This was originally posted in October, 2012 )
This is Amanda Todd. From the looks of this photo, you would think Amanda was just your typical 15 year old teen, enjoying life with a boyfriend and the world on her shoulders.
But deep down, there were serious problems with her. So serious, in fact, that last week, Amanda decided to commit suicide. Before she took that drastic final step, Amanda created a video and uploaded it to YouTube, describing what was going on with her life.
A year later, a person contacted her on Facebook, threatening to send around the picture of her topless “if [she] don’t put on a show.” Terrifyingly, the stranger knew everything about her: her address, school, friends, relatives, and the names of her family members. Soon, her naked photo had been forwarded “to everyone.”
In her video, she described her torment of being bullied online and in school. Todd explained that the trouble began when she was in 7th grade, when she used to use a webcam to go online with friends to meet new people. After being told she was beautiful she agreed to pose for topless photos on the webcam.
Amanda developed anxiety, depression, and other disorders, she says in the video, followed by a path into drugs and alcohol. She changed schools and found a new group of friends in an effort to leave behind the bullies.
Then, the person created a Facebook profile, using her uncensored photo as his profile picture. “Cried every night, lost all my friends and respect people had for me… again… then nobody liked me,” she wrote in the video. “I can never get that photo back; it’s out there forever,”.
Law officials from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia are investigating the case and criminal charges could be filed against the individuals who tormented Todd, but noted it was too early to speculate what area of the criminal code this would fall under.
Amanda was being more than just bullied; she was being blackmailed and terrorized. Her situation, all the while tragic, should also point to the dangers of unsupervised webcams. Despite the notion that everyone is online, the complex usage of computers leaves everyone vulnerable. Once you post a picture or video of yourself online, there is virtually no way of getting it back.
We can only hope that those who are manipulating our youth in evil ways are dealt with.