Happy birthday baby girl!!! No words can describe how I feel as I sit here and write these words to you on what is and should have been your 17th birthday or what would have been your 17th birthday. You have missed many landmarks in life that you were looking so forward to.
I went to Ottawa for the tabling of the new Cyberbullying Bill in the House of Commons on Wednesday. It has been a long time coming, and as parents who have lost our children, it is a necessity. The question that I heard the most from media was this one: Do you think this piece of legislation would have 'saved' Amanda? YES.
We were horrified to find out that taking a photograph of oneself having sex with an unknowing and unconscious person then texting it out to pretty much everyone she knows wasn't a crime in Canada. Seriously, trust me. It isn't. But now, fortunately, it will be. I am very grateful to hear that Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney have announced new legislation that will address this disgusting crime that devastated our daughter Rehtaeh. Now, thanks to this new legislation, ignoring these young victims and their families will no longer be an option.
I wonder how many people know that October 10 is World Mental Health Day all over the world? This also happens to be the same date that I lost the ability to laugh and cry with my daughter in real time. From here on in, I will work to bring awareness to mental health issues on this date. I invite all those who want to help do this each year by Lighting Up Purple for World Mental Health Day.
Back from WE DAY Toronto 2013. What a fantastic event. To be able to listen to the speakers and absorb what they had to say was pretty amazing. And then feeling the energy in the building with over 20,000 youth present. It was certainly one of those magical moments. Although I don't always feel the spiritual world around me, I did feel Amanda's presence at We Day Toronto.
Today was a year to the date when Amanda Todd and I went to Whiterock B.C. to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather of September and take so many selfies of each other. It was a hilarious day. One of which I will never forget as I saw Amanda in the carefree state that she once was just a couple of years back.
It's hard to believe that it has been a year since Amanda initially posted her video to YouTube. And even stranger to see that with combined views from different sources, that there have been over 28-million views. I continue to receive comments from people all around the world about having seen the video for the very first time. I also keep hearing about the positive impacts it has made on those who have watched it. They felt a connection with the video. They thought about their own lives and decided on a change. All these are good things that have come out of this.
When I read a recent blog post addressing "indecent girls" that the author's sons may encounter online, the first people that I thought of were Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott, and Cherice Morales. In each of these cases, the girls became social pariahs. In each of these cases, the girls committed suicide after enduring bullying and slut-shaming both online and offline. All because of that toxic mentality.
School is starting soon. There are many anxious youths out there not looking forward to those first weeks of school. Hopefully this school year will be one where kindness and respect are a focus. Hopefully we won't lose any more young people while we wait.
On Saturday, it will be 10 months since my daughter, Amanda, left us. I am trying to keep myself busy so I don't feel that dark cloud come upon me as it does every month. I am excited to meet all the people who have come into my life in the past 10 months. They all have made a difference and that's what it is all about. They rally around and support and make change. I am so happy to finally meet, hug, say hello and share stories. These are all warm and giving people.
Recently, I engaged in a bit of a Twitter-debate around Internet dangers and kids. Our children are making adult decisions online and it's argued that these protections should be the responsibility of social media companies. Those who oppose restrictions and protections argue that it is up to parents to teach children best judgement and to exercise common sense online. I think this is absolutely absurd.
For years Facebook has maintained an imperious and stony silence against pleas from users and victims about its most objectionable content. But on May 27th, Facebook finally flinched. And then it cratered, caved and capitulated in the course of a single phone call after a one-week #fbrape campaign by the smartest feminists on the planet. By the time Glenford Canning's moving blog post to Mark Zuckerberg appeared on Huffington Post, Facebook was on the phone to campaign organizers, agreeing to every term demanded from the outset.
Why are so many boys so sure they can get away with rape? Or learning that their status is enhanced by sharing photo-documentary evidence of their actions? As one boy asked at a recent talk I gave: "How is forwarding a picture a girl sends me of herself different from forwarding a picture of my toaster?"
Parents please continue to learn about the story attached to Amanda Todd and today do not hesitate to talk to your children about the new story of Rehtaeh Parsons. Talk to your children about mental health, talking about social media is the first step in educating your kids about social media safety and outline your expectations about how your children will utilise this powerful tool for communication.
Since Manitoba's religious schools receive over 50 per cent of their funding from the province, they are all being mandated to comply with the proposed legislation: Bill 18 -- required to implement an anti-bullying strategy that includes gay-straight alliances. Our rights cannot exist in a vacuum, isolated from the reality around them. Rights engage with other rights. Not only does our Charter have a built-in provision to permit the limiting of rights in certain situations, but also, the transactional nature of our public lives dictates that different rights will come into contact other rights. Those who oppose Bill 18 should read the Charter in its entirety; it doesn't stop at freedom of religion, nor is there a hierarchy of rights.
Our country prides itself on being a multicultural society -- no moral absolutes for us. Unfortunately, we threw out the most important moral absolute bequeathed to us. The absolute we learned from the answer to the question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And the answer is "Yes!"