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In this day and age social networking sites are ever growing in popularity, and play a big part in young people’s social lives. Such media platforms are harmless, when used in the right way; however it appears that social networking sites are host to cyber-bullies. Cyber-bullies hide behind screen names and email addresses, and are often unidentifiable. Unfortunately, cyber-bullying is something that is happening more frequently, with statistics showing that one million teenagers were bullied online in 2011. It is questionable however, whether young people are fueling the fire by putting themselves on social networking sites in the first place? But are they really to blame?

Cyber-bullying can have very severe effects and in some cases lead to suicide. One week before her 16th birthday, Amanda Todd took her life after being victimised on the internet for several years.

Amanda thought to be talking to a boy her own age, which later turned out to be a suspected paedophile. She went on webcam, and as requested she flashed the boy. Little did she know, she was being recorded and things took a turn for the worst. The perpetrator blackmailed Amanda, threatening to upload footage unless she gave him another “show”, and when she refused the footage went viral and was sent to pupils, teachers and parents. She received both verbal and physical abuse, and was called names such as “porn star”. Amanda was taunted and bullied until she was at breaking point and fled, hoping to make a new start somewhere else.

Unfortunately for Amanda, she had not escaped. The online perpetrator followed her wherever she went, creating fake Facebook accounts and befriending people at each new school she attended, sharing the footage. As a result, Amanda became isolated with no one to turn to, and no matter how hard she tried she was unable to remove herself from the situation.

After several suicide attempts, Amanda successfully took her own life in 2012, leaving a video of her story behind on YouTube, and was viewed by millions. You would think that a case like this would make bullies realise the severity of their actions and that it would bring a stop to it. Unfortunately this is not the case, and parents are still at risk of losing their children to cyber bullying. Amanda did not ask for this. Her trusting nature caused her to make a small mistake, which others never allowed her to forget, and haunted her right up until her death.

Daniel Perry, aged 17, experienced something very similar to Amanda. However roles were reversed and he thought to be talking to a girl of his own age for several months through Skype and other websites. One night, Daniel exposed himself on Skype and was later blackmailed with the footage. The perpetrator demanded payment and said that if he failed to “pay up” the footage would be shared with his friends and family. It is also believed that Daniel was urged to kill himself on Q&A social network ASK.FM, and three months later he did.

It can be argued that by willingly exposing themselves online, Amanda and Daniel brought it on themselves. However, they believed to be given attention from someone of their own age, boosting their self-esteem and made them feel wanted. They didn’t ask to be bullied and driven to their deaths. Amanda even tried to remove herself from the situation several times, but it became a viscous, inescapable circle.

It is important to remember that both Amanda and Daniel’s cases are very recent, emphasising that cyber bullying and blackmail is a current, ever growing problem with young people seen as soft users. In these two cases it is clear that the two teenagers became trapped and saw no way out other than to take their own lives. They aren’t the only cases; a study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. The law would not let a murderer get away with killing someone, so why let a cyber bully get away with causing the death of an innocent young person? Please share your views on this.

Thank you.

A


Amanda Todd’s story

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