The mother of the Port Coquitlam teen who took her own life after a vicious campaign of online harassment, said anti-cyber bullying campaigns in schools are starting to make a difference.
Carol Todd, whose 15-year-old daughter Amanda died by suicide in October 2012, spoke Wednesday at the B.C. legislature as part of Pink Shirt Day, an international anti-bullying campaign in its 12th year.
"I do believe there have been changes, because when we look at the whole spectrum of time, the time when it all first started with Amanda, the time when Amanda died and now, there has been so many more conversations, so many more preventions put in place," Todd told reporters after her speech. Todd founded the Amanda Todd Legacy Society and has talked to students across the country about the dangers of online harassment.
Dozens of students from Northridge Elementary, Central Middle and Reynolds Secondary schools lined the steps of the legislature, performing dance routines, songs and spoken-word poems that addressed bullying in schools.
The Ministry of Education is spending $160,000 to roll out 190 online safety sessions to more than 19,000 students from grades 3 to 12 across B.C. The program will teach kids how to protect their online privacy and how to use the ERASE (Expect Respect and a Safe Education) anonymous reporting tool to flag bullying and online harassment.
Last year, the government gave $100,000 to the B.C. School Superintendents' Association to provide social media sessions to educate more than 3,500 parents on how to protect their children online.
Education Ministry Rob Fleming said last year's cyber bullying program focused on parents and this year it will target students, with different online safety sessions for different age groups.
"Amanda's life could have been saved if we had effective anti-bullying strategies, if we had prevented her from being cyber bullied and isolated and making a tragic choice," Fleming said.
"We know that talking about it is really, really important. We have to reduce the stigma. If someone is bullied, we need them to come forward."
Pink Shirt Day has grown to 180 countries since 2007, when two Nova Scotia high school students wore pink shirts in support of a student who was bullied for wearing a pink shirt.
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