Cowichan Valley News Oct 2012

Valley schools on guard for cyber bullying even more after Todd's case


Amanda Todd’s video prior to her suicide has made headlines around the world.

Facebook phot

By Don Bodger - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Published: October 16, 2012 10:00 AM 
Updated: October 16, 2012 3:33 PM

Amanda Todd's powerful YouTube video and her subsequent suicide associated with cyber bullying really hit home with Cowichan Valley students and administrators.

The Lower Mainland girl's death has been a hot topic of postings on student Facebook pages throughout the valley.

"I've seen posts on Facebook every day since,'' said Cowichan Secondary School student Sam Jory.

Students have been shocked and dismayed at the events that led to Todd taking her own life and can't imagine what it was like to be in her shoes.

"For the most part, I know at Cow High everyone's very supportive of one another,'' said Jory.

"It's a very supportive situation. We're obviously very lucky for that. All the teachers are really great.''

Same for Frances Kelsey, according to student Mary-Kate Cross.

"All of the counsellors or the advisors at our school are amazing for that kind of thing,'' she said.

The peer counselling class at the school provides any necessary support for students.

"They're all amazing people there that are all willing to listen,'' said Cross.

Students at Kelsey, she added, are well aware of the implications of cyber bullying.

"Last year before any of this happened we had a man come to our school with a large presentation,'' said Cross. "He talked to us about cyber bullying.''

The same presentation was given to students at Cowichan Secondary and other schools in the district by Darren Laur. He does a great job about getting the message out about social media safety, according to Cow High principal Charlie Coleman.

"This is just one piece of the puzzle,'' added Coleman. "District policies and most school Codes of Conduct are pretty clear that bullying of any kind is never OK. Every school I know of takes this responsibility seriously.''

Todd's situation has left an indelible impression on everyone and reinforced the need to take precautions.

"Even though this happened on the Mainland, we in public education consider all students to be 'our kids,''' Coleman indicated. "As educators at any high school, we have a heightened sensitivity to this topic. Since this tragic event, we are all keeping our eyes and ears open for any signs of stress or trauma in our own students.''

With the internet being 24-7, 365 days a year, Coleman stressed it's not just a school issue.

"It's a societal issue. It's a family issue. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing and saying on line. Staff have been reminded to let counsellors and administrators know if they see any cause for concern. We remind kids often to let an adult know if they are being bullied or if they are aware of someone else being bullied. If we know about it, we can help.''

Cross said measures can be taken immediately that would have been helpful in Todd's case.

"If you receive a picture, the very first thing you should do is delete it. You shouldn't even think of passing it on.''

Mary Kirchner, a counsellor at Frances Kelsey, said there are 90 students in Grades 9 through 12 who serve as peer counsellors at the school. They come from all backgrounds.

"Kids really care,'' she said. "They quietly, confidentially let us know a lot of things. We create a plan to help.''

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