More shocking than the fact that yet another teenager has opted to take her own life as a direct result of (cyber)bullying is the public response to the tragedy. Thousands have taken it upon themselves to comment on the situation, but the sheer volumes of negative comments are staggering. A simple Tumblr visit seems to pull up cruel, insensitive and downright malicious comments against the victim.
Try as I might to be sympathetic to their viewpoints, I fail to see anything other than damaged individuals using the Web's anonymity - such as it is - to emphatically illustrate a colossal degree of ignorance that would be comical in any other context. The next thing one notices from such a visit is the amount of time some people spend building animations, videos and photoshopped images to put a personal spin on their twisted viewpoints. These are all, of course, opinions to which they are entitled, but the fact that these same people would have appeared harmless and perhaps even 'normal' until the tragedy that claimed the life of a child almost causes one to reconsider the mechanics of interpersonal trust.
Anyway, there's no time to even consider that last point, because we are now faced with the potential of vigilante action against the victim's suspected tormentor. The hacking group Anonymous claims that they have located him and have posted the personal information of a man in his early 30s to prove it. The Police continue to investigate all credible leads.
Where does this all leave the rest of us? Here are some thoughts:
If you're a concerned netizen who wishes to report a potential victim, go to http://cybertip.ca
Interested in bullying information in general? Check out http://bullying.org
If you're from a school or community organization in Ontario, give us a call to schedule a live seminar on cyberbullying and online safety. It's for parents and educators, but primarily, it's about our children: http://KnowledgeFlow.ca (KnowledgeFlow is a brand of Informatica Education, focused on important community issues and risk awareness for a public audience).
Here is a recent TV interview on the same topic: http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=784566