When liberals talk about bullying, it is usually the harmless, schoolyard variety, such as I endured in elementary school. Nothing physical; verbal taunts, jokes about my red hair and freckles, mockery for not being in the know about certain things that kids my age really ought not to have been in the know about. You know, the things most kids go through; the things that make kids stronger; the things that liberals nobly but pointlessly try to shelter their kids from ever experiencing. The bullying I went through caused me to undergo a period of crippling social anxiety in my middle- and high-school years. Today I have a healthy level of confidence, and an even healthier disdain for bullies than I would had I not been bullied. Today it is my personal vow that if I ever see someone being bullied—verbally or physically—I will intervene. Mean people bother me just as much as liberals do.
Just over a month ago, on September 7, a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Todd posted a video on YouTube in which she described her recent years of bullying and subsequent drug and alcohol use. A month after the video was posted, she killed herself by drinking bleach.
It all started when Amanda, in eighth grade, flashed her chest in an online chat room. A man in there took a screenshot of the video with her exposed chest and then sent her a message on Facebook that if she didn’t “put on a show” for him, he would spread her photo all over the Internet.
Over the course of what sounds like the next year or so, Amanda lost all her friends, ate lunch alone, turned to self-mutilation, drugs, and alcohol, all culminating in her decision to commit suicide, thus spreading her misery to her parents.
A few of my conservative friends reacted to the news with surprising coldness, and many liberals have reacted to it with unsurprising melodrama.
Look, that someone can be treated so poorly and made to feel so worthless that she is driven to end her life is a horrible reality. There are arguments that one needs to be mentally unstable in order for bullying to drive a person to suicide, but I am of the opinion that bullying itself can create mental instability.
Amanda Todd is dead. What’s done is done. The man who blackmailed her should be jailed for blackmail. Her bullies in school should be disciplined harshly by their parents. And indeed, that’s what this comes down to: not whether Amanda was unstable or anything like that, but parenting.
Where were Amanda’s parents when she was in chat rooms? Why was their daughter so free with exposing her body? Was her mother a radical feminist? Why did Amanda not have the moral restraint not to feel like it was a good idea to earn people’s respect by giving them visual sexual gratification? From what TV show or movie did she learn this behavior? From what public school? Where were her parents?
Amanda Todd is dead–possibly in part from an already-present mental instability, possibly in part from being tormented, but definitely in part from poor parenting and an overall shunning of family values in our society. My heart genuinely feels for Amanda, a victim not of bullying, but of parental neglect.