Saskatchewan

Sask. teen's story featured in new documentary examining impact of cyberbullying

The bullying of Saskatchewan teenager Brooke Boutilier began with little things like being left out of her friend's group and not being invited to sleepovers.

Saskatoon family's experience featured in documentary Dark Cloud

The documentary Dark Cloud film follows anti-bullying advocate Carol Todd, whose teenage daughter Amanda committed suicide in 2012, as she connects with other parents, victims of bullying, academics and experts, and anti-bullying advocates across the country. (TELUS Originals)

The bullying of Saskatchewan teenager Brooke Boutilier began with little things like being left out of her friends group and not being invited to sleepovers.

Her mom Tenille hoped it was a passing thing that would go away.

It didn't. It got worse.

"It escalated and ramped up quite quickly," Tenille Boutilier told The Morning Edition's Stefani Langenegger.

There were calls in the middle of the night and notes left on her car urging Brooke to kill herself.

"Within a year it became a lot of online stuff. And at the worst of it, it became a group chat called the I Hate Brooke Club."

Saskatchewan's Brooke Boutilier's cyberbullying experience is part of the documentary Dark Cloud. (TELUS Originals)

Brooke and her family's cyberbullying experience is part of a new documentary by Telus Originals called Dark Clouds.

The film follows anti-bullying advocate Carol Todd, whose teenage daughter Amanda committed suicide in 2012, as she connects with other parents, victims of bullying, academics, experts and anti-bullying advocates across the country.

The film is being released in conjunction with the eighth anniversary of the Amanda's suicide and in support of Mental Health Awareness Month.

It's not surprising that a new documentary featuring Tenille Boutilier and her daughter Brooke is entitled "Dark Clouds". Those clouds hung over their family for years as they struggled to combat vicious bullying Brooke encountered at school and online. Now, Boutilier hopes the documentary will help other families. 6:04

Tenille said Brooke's bullying came from kids she had known since elementary school.

"She was coming to us every day and crying and we weren't really sure what to do," Tenille said. "We kind of were hoping for the best and just honestly wishing for things to go away. And then when it became online, then it was so out of our control and as a parent, I had to intervene."

Carol Todd (left) has become an anti-bullying advocate after her daughter Amanda committed suicide in 2012. (TELUS Originals)

Tenille said they engaged the school, other parents and the police.

"I would tell every parent," she said. "Looking back, the more people you have involved, the better. I wish I would have gone to the school earlier and to other parents earlier and just put a stop to it and not wished it would just go away on its own."

She was persistent about getting answers and action.

"It kind of was our experience that when we did go for help, we didn't get the best answers at first," Tenille said.

"Initially the kids, her peer group, didn't step forward and stand up for her. So we had some backlash for that. But we kept going. We kept going until we got the answers we wanted and that we needed for the best for our kid and for all the kids moving forward."

Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd killed herself in October 2012, after posting a YouTube video saying she was blackmailed by an online predator. (CBC/The Fifth Estate)

Tenille hopes the documentary will help other families dealing with cyberbullying.

"You don't just give up and think this is what you're being told. As adults will say, you know, 'It's girls being girls.' It's not," she said.

"That is not how children should act. And they clearly need skills to be helped too because they're hurting in some way." 

Tenille said there are actions you can take like documenting the harassment, getting counselling for your child and the family, seeking help from friends and family, being an advocate for your child and always keeping the lines of communication open with your child.

Tenille said Brooke, who is now in nursing, has become a strong, independent woman.

"This kid is so strong and represents everything that I would have wanted to be. And we're just so proud of her," Tenille said. "She's done so much for the community.

"She makes such a difference in our world."

The documentary Dark Cloud will be available for free on demand on Telus Optik TV this Saturday. 

With files from CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition

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