This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Amanda Todd Bullying Trolls Show Nasty Side Of Internet Users

As Canada and the world react with grief, empathy and regret to the death of a B.C. teen, some online users are inexplicably still posting hurtful comments about the girl.

Amanda Todd, 15, killed herself Wedneday after years of online bullying despite her changing schools and cities. She posted a YouTube video outlining her struggle to get away from her tormenters.

Sprinkled among thousands of social media condolences are the occasional shocking and nasty comment.

"Moral of the story... dont be a slut ," posted a YouTube user.

"I dont feel bad. Why did she keep doing things that made people hate her?? What a slut," said another.

One image posted online shows the outline of a young female hanging, with the vile caption "Todding."

The comments are usually flagged as spam soon after they're posted. RCMP have asked people to report such content to them, as criminal charges could be laid.

Wanda Cassidy, an education professor at Simon Fraser University, said while the negative comments are shocking, they're not isolated. One of her studies found that seven per cent of young people said they cyberbullied "for fun."

"There is an element in society (young and old) that enjoys seeing someone in pain. Bullying is a wider social problem -- not just a youth problem," Cassidy told The Huffington Post B.C.


Her research on ways to educate students, parents and teachers about creating caring environments in schools found that many anti-bullying programs in those facilities don't actually work -- and in fact, create more bullying behaviour. Cassidy says the best methods create environments where everyone in the school practices caring for each other.

Cassidy's research also found that parents are relatively ignorant of the extent of cyberbullying. Here are her five tips for parents:

1. Keep the conversation open, and be there for your child if they admit to cyberbullying someone else or are victimized. Be supportive and let them know that you are there for them.

2. Update yourself on the technology and social media, so you can access the sites and help if necessary.

3. Know that it may be your child who is bullying others. One-third of students aged 11-15 in my three studies indicated they had participated in cyberbullying. The bullies are not only the "problem kids," but every child has the capability.

4. Model the right behaviour you expect. Practice it in the home and your workplace. The most powerful teacher is modelling.

5. Speak to the school and set up a series of dialogues with the school, parents, young people, police, etc. that create solutions for the school in your neighbourhood.

Are you in crisis? Need help? In Canada, find links and numbers to 24-hour suicide crisis lines in your province here.

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