True crime: Amanda Todd was targeted repeatedly while perpetrators went unscathed

Photo sourced from R.I.P Amanda Todd Facebook page

It's rather hard to find a story in the media about Amanda Todd without the word "cyberbullying" in the headline.

But if you read through Amanda's statements in her video, there was bullying online and offline, but it was the offline bullying that left her beaten in a ditch. The predator who targeted her repeatedly chose to hide online, true, but surely blackmailing a minor to perform sexual acts and distributing child pornography goes far beyond what we'd classify as bullying.

But no. The "cyberbullying" is the focus, simply because it's good buzzword, and its one that its older audience will be drawn to. It's back to the same old "kids these days!" barrel of tricks. The media completely ignores that bullying was alive and well long before the Internet. Not having access to the Internet certainly didn't stop the bullies in my high school from targeting a classmate by spray painting anti-gay slurs in huge letters on the drive up to the school.

Of course, the word becomes much more powerful when you can combine it with a pretty young woman who committed suicide. We're led to believe it was the "cyberbullying" that killed her, not that she was targeted repeatedly with criminal acts while the perpetrators went unscathed. That concept is way too complicated to get into the five word headline for this round up of reactions on twitter, including not one, but two slideshows, the 2nd of which compiled pictures from her Facebook page (as if she needed yet another privacy invasion).

But unfortunately, this is just a continuation of a sad media trend we've seen develop over the past few decades. I call it "pretty white girl tragedy entertainment." We are all so familiar with the concept, we can just roll the instances right off the top of our heads. Did Casey Anthony, the pretty white derelict mother, murder her cute blonde daughter in order to free up her schedule for partying? Did pretty white teen Natalee Holloway meet a tragic fate on a dark Aruba beach? And wherever did pretty white child beauty pageant queen JonBenét Ramsay disappear to?

It's cynical, but I have to acknowledge, nothing new. It attracts attention in a world where there is little to no difference between news and entertainment. But it's shameful and disrespectful, and it's even more shameful when our politicians, who are sworn to the public good, play along, meaninglessly debating an unworkable motion that won't actually do anything to catch the real villains of this sad saga. But they do get headlines in the news entertainment vortex. The government is doing something, everybody! Keep calm and carry on.

The real shame of it is that there are some deep issues here that can, and should be fixed. If the media and the politicians wanted to do something meaningful, they'd be working to bring justice to the criminals involved and reforming the civil society structures that failed Amanda. But that would require having to roll up their sleeves and dig in to find the hard truths. That could seriously impact their plans to get out of the office in time for happy hour.

The Vancouver Observer is covering this not because we view it as entertainment, but because we hope to shed some light on the series of mistakes that led to this tragedy. Once again, you can follow all our latest Amanda Todd coverage here, and sign up for our newsletter if you would like to get updates from ALL the important stories we are reporting on.

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RIP Amanda

It is a tragedy what happened to this girl and her family. As a mother I am dismayed and a little frustrated. My partner and I have installed sassreport free software that allows you to monitor the activity of our children on the Internet. This time we can now detect if your child is experiencing cyberbullying. I found it here www.sassreport.com

thanks for this

thanks for this thoughtful commentary.

"the series of mistakes that led to this tragedy."  Yes, these are the "mistakes" we should be talking about.

AMANDA

Finally an intelligent, thoughtful comment on bullying in general, but with no specifics on what causes bullying, a modern-day syndrome caused by permissive upbringing of children at home and at school. I attended Kitsilano HIgh School from 1941 to 1945 and there was NO bullying, believe me. If necessary, teachers got physical with smart-ass children who wouldn't behave (sorry, social workers, but it works). We were children who did what were told. I never saw our one native student, Alfie Scow, bullied, for example, and he went on to become a Supreme Court Justice. So we've asked for this mess by becoming a flacid, weak-minded, insecure culture who'll tolerate anything and everything, just so it doesn't interfere with our doesn't interfere with our skiing, golfing, tennis, sailing dates. In other words, we're sick with affluence and totally lazy.  

Muito Triste

=(

Very good analysis about the

Very good analysis about the over-dramatization of the cyber bullying aspect of this story. Not sure where you are going with the pretty "white" girl angle though. I believe Amanda was mixed race. But I guess her looks have contributed to the media grabbing onto the story. Thousands of suicides each year that never become news fodder. 

article on amamda todd

Your article is poor and ill thought out. It demonstrates what is wromg with modern journalism. In that your personal politically  oorrect spin pervades it. Amandas video was a final cry for help. Possibly not even for herself but for us. So we the world could see where we went wrong and possibly her final act might bring about change. She wanted her storey to be read, on you tube and probably wished it would go viral to be seen on twitter and facebook and everywhere. That was her weapon against the world which had harmed her. This was her brave act of standing up to the bullies in front of the whole world. It has nothing to do with her being white. Mullaly in pakistan is garnering more attention and she is not white. It has little to do with her looks, she is girl next door kind of pretty. No it is much more to do with her beauty of spirit. Her decision to not fear, and to stand before us all in her, final judgement of us and herself. And we have a choice to stand with her not because she is a young girl but because she is human and needs a freind. How simply human is that

Huh

By citing American coverage of the murders of American "pretty white girls," this article shows a breathtaking ignorance of how this story developed. The gut-wrenching video Amanda made before her death was what sparked the coverage. Her (ambiguous) race has absolutely nothing to do with it. Citing American coverage of American murders as evidence allows one to take easy swipes at the mainstream media, but aside from the gender of the victim, this case has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with those cases. I watched one newscast that blurred Amanda's face while showing the video of her holding the cue cards. There's no legal reason to do so, so why the hell would they blur her face if her looks were shaping the story? It is what Amanda wrote, not what she looked like, that has given this story life.

BC bullies and corruption

these perpitrators remain unscathed as well

I too am bullied heres some of it :

Arbitrarily / Wrongfully Imprisoned , Maliciously Prosecuted, tortured assaulted, prohibited from driving , prohibited from working. Prevented from running in elections. Prohibited from owning patents. With no avenue of redress! 

 

police, law society, beaurocrates, media and politians, are willing participants. 

Dennis Baker 
106-998 Creston Avenue
Penticton BC V2A1P9
cell phone 250-462-3796 
Phone / Fax 778-476-2633

Poor research...

Can't help but point out what has already been stated...Todd was mixed race, although fair skinned, labelling her and saying the only reason people care about this case is beacuse she is a "pretty white girl" really shows your lack of background information and research. Her mother was all over the news, how could you have missed it?? Pretty sloppy journalism to have a premise that is SO EASY to refute. 

Not to say that there aren't challenges with getting media coverage for crimes against women of colour or First Nations women. There are major issues and disparities, not to mention these groups of women experience violence  at much higher rates than the rest of the population. 

But, when you don't do your research you undermine your point. If you were interested in bringing to light issues that affect women of colour, maybe try writing about those issues instead of pushing your own hackneyed version of the truth.  Better luck next time.