10/19/2012 05:38 EDT | Updated 12/19/2012 05:12 EST

Whose Fault is Our Culture of Bullying?


I can't stop thinking about Amanda Todd. Why she died, why nobody stopped the kids who were bullying her, how her cyber-stalker wasn't caught or prosecuted, why her parents seemed to be in the dark.

I'm struggling because I want to lay blame. And I don't know where it should go.

Can I place the onus on the schools, the internet, her parents, her peers? I can't. At least not entirely.

Was Amanda cyberbullied? Somewhat. Yes, her horror was shared on the internet, but the crux is that she was preyed upon by an online predator. And that's not cyberbullying.

The kind of sexual exploitation described by Todd is part of a seedy cyber-underworld that targets young girls and it is not bullying, but a vicious crime that should be pursued even after her death according to CBC news.

Amanda Todd made a huge mistake when she was 12, egged on by her friends and a cowardly pedophile. She made a mistake even the most responsible kid could make. So, I cannot blame Amanda, mostly because she is the victim of this tragedy, but even more so because she was 12. And 12 year olds make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Can we place blame on her parents? I don't know them, I don't know what kind of guidelines she was provided with regard to online safety. I don't know if she broke their rules or whether they had none. I don't know what kind of home she had that she couldn't tell her parents what she'd done so they could call the police and put a stop to her torment. I don't know if she told them her story, and they were in denial. I wasn't there, and I refuse to judge. So, I cannot.

What about the kids? The teenagers at school-after-school who shared the photos, spread the word about her mistake, called her names, made her life unliveable Can I blame the kids? I don't know. I struggle.

Are there really any kids who are bad? Or are these good kids who do bad things? Good kids who jumped on a bandwagon because everyone else was doing it, or who were modelled this kind of behaviour by their parents, their TV shows, their online idols (like Perez Hilton). Were there kids who made the mistake of caving to peer pressure or who had their own fears for repercussions if they didn't participate? I think all of the above, so I cannot even blame the kids. This is the world that we gave them, so this is how they act.

(Social Psychologist)... Brenda Morrison described the 15-year-old's death as the consequence of a society in which bullying is considered an institutional problem, as opposed to a community one. She suggested the solution lies in reframing the issue to emphasize everyone's responsibility for the well-being of young people. ... Kids need to hear the message that (bullying) is not ok from a range of people," she wrote. "We need to create communities of care for our young people ... long before the crisis." - Montreal Gazette

Can we blame the internet? I'm conflicted. Sure, if there was no internet, then Amanda's online stalker would never have made that video of her flashing her pre-pubescent chest. He would never have been able to blackmail her or share it, and the the teenagers would never have gotten the picture. But, the internet just facilitates bad behaviour. It's a vehicle for choice. It was still a person who took that video, who shared that video, who called her names, who made her feel shame. Blaming the internet for Amanda Todd's death is like blaming a car, instead of it's driver, for a car accident.

So, who is to blame then? Who can we point a finger at for Amanda Todd's death, or really for the insidious epidemic of bullying?

Look to your left. Look to your right. I'm doing the same. Now look in the mirror. I'm doing it too, don't worry.

That person you looked at on your left? Bullying is their fault. That person you looked at on the right? Bullying is their fault. That person you just looked at in the mirror? It's their fault too.

It's all of our faults. If you live in this world we have created, then you are to blame, as am I.

We have created a culture of sarcasm, selfishness, mocking, and intolerance for difference.

We tell our kids not to get involved, don't rock the boat, watch out for YOU.

We are reactive. We watch with apathy until it's too late and then we cry out, we raise hell.

We have glorified criticism, and decried kindness. We are so concerned with self-esteem that we are not teaching character. We are so worried about lawsuits that we make authority impotent and children unafraid of repercussion.

Our society values the rights of the individual over the happiness of others.

How can we blame the epidemic of bullying on parents, schools, police, or even the internet?

We have all contributed to the society in which we live. We have all raised a generation of bystanders and bullies. If not by doing, then by acquiescence.

If our children don't have it in them to stand up for what's right, to exhibit kindness or empathy, we are the ones to blame. Plain and simple.

The big question is, what are we going to do about it?

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