Beyond the Headlines

A grieving family's call to action

Posted: Oct 16, 2012 10:42 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 16, 2012 10:42 AM ET
By now I'm sure you've seen Amanda Todd's heartbreaking video. If you haven't take a minute to watch it here. Amanda's family, including her two aunts who live in Nova Scotia, really want you to see it. More importantly they want you to talk about it. Talk about it with your friends, your co-workers, your family and especially your kids.
 
If you have teenagers sit down and watch the video with them. It won't be easy and it won't be the most comfortable conversation you will ever have with your kids, but in a world where every teenager is connected 24/7 it's a conversation that could save a life.
 
Talk to your kids about the dangers of the internet. Remind them that everything they text, or post, however private they think it may be, could soon be out there for everyone to see. Sexting may seem to them a harmless way to amuse their boyfriend or girlfriend but get them to imagine the horror of having their most personal photos or thoughts broadcast to anyone with an internet connection or a smartphone.
 
Talk to your kids about standing up for others. Teach them that one mistake, especially a mistake made by a 13 year old, does not define a person's character. We all know how easy it is for teenagers to jump on the "who can we ridicule today" bandwagon. That's what happened to Amanda Todd, and it happened over and over again. Ask your kids to consider the difference it would have made in her life, if just a few of the kids had stood up to the bullies and told her "it's OK, we are still your friend". Ask them if they know a kid in their school who would love to have someone, anyone, offer a few friendly words.
 
And finally beg and plead with your kids to tell you if they are being bullied. No teenager wants to tell their parents their peers see them as "losers" or "sluts." But they need to know you are there for them unconditionally and that if they can just hang on, it will get better.
 
Amanda Todd couldn't hang on and now her family is taking action to try to ensure no other kids have to suffer. They are determined to turn her tragic, senseless death into a message of hope.
 
"Something big has to change," says Leana Todd, Amanda's aunt. "It's becoming an epidemic."

"They are kids, they're children who are dying," says Todd. "That's not OK, it's not OK to sit around and let that happen."

Leana and her sister are organizing candlelight vigils and anti-bulling rallies in both Truro and Halifax. The vigils will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Victoria Park in Truro and at Grand Parade in Halifax.
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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