Amanda Todd

Anti-Bullying Week: The Story of Amanda Todd

Anti-Bullying Week occurs in schools across England every November. This year it is from Monday 11th November – Friday 15th November 2019.

This attack caused Amanda to attempt suicide by drinking bleach, however, she survived as she was rushed to hospital in order to have her stomach pumped.

To raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of bullying we are telling Amanda’s story.

Who was Amanda Todd?

Amanda Todd

Amanda Michelle Todd was born on November 27, 1996, and passed away on October 10, 2012. She was a fifteen-year-old Canadian student when she tragically committed suicide as a result of cyberbullying and physical bullying.

The case became internationally famous due to a YouTube video that Amanda posted before her death. The video saw her hold up flashcards that detail the reasons why she took her own life.

At a young age she was blackmailed into exposing herself over a webcam chat site, and after the picture was circulated she was bullied by her classmates and physically assaulted.

The video went viral and ‘had more than 13 million views as of October 2019.’

Background and suicide

Amanda posted the YouTube video titled My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm, on September 7, 2012. She writes that around the time she moved in with her father (2009-10) she went on video chat sites to meet new people, and she received compliments for her looks.

However things took a darker turn when a stranger convinced her to expose herself on camera, and he ‘capped’ her.

This is a term that is short for screen capturing or screen grabbing, and it is an extremely exploitative phenomenon.

The man that did this used these images to blackmail her, threatening to send the photos to her family and friends unless she gave him a ‘show.’ Amanda explained that during the 2010 Christmas holiday, police informed her that indecent photos of her were circulating on the Internet.

This caused her to experience anxiety, panic disorder and depression as a result of the online sexual exploitation. In a bid to escape, her family moved house and Amanda went to a new school. However, Amanda had begun to use drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress.

One year later and the blackmailing continued. He had created a Facebook profile and used Amanda’s inappropriate picture as his profile picture. He began contacting Amanda’s classmates at her new school. This caused her to be bullied once again, and this forced her to change schools for the second time.

In her video, she wrote that she began chatting to ‘an old guy friend.’ He invited her over to his house and they slept together while his girlfriend was on holiday.

The following week, the boy’s girlfriend found out and she and a large group of people violently confronted Amanda about it. They screamed insults at her and the boy’s girlfriend punched her. Amanda lay down in a ditch and that is where her father found her.

This attack caused Amanda to attempt suicide by drinking bleach, however, she survived as she was rushed to hospital in order to have her stomach pumped. She said in her video that ‘It killed me inside and I thought I was gonna actually [sic] die.’

The bullying continued after her suicide attempt, and she was sent abusive messages over Facebook. In March 2012 the family moved again in the hope of having a fresh start, however, this was not to happen.

Amanda’s mother has stated that ‘Every time she moved schools he would go undercover and become a Facebook friend. What the guy did was he went online to the kids who went to [the new school] and said that he was going to be a new student — that he was starting school the following week and that he wanted some friends and could they friend him on Facebook. He eventually gathered people’s names and sent Todd’s video to her new school.’ This included students, teachers and parents.

Six months after this, more vile messages and abuse were posted onto social networking sites and sent to Amanda. Her mental state began worsening once again, and she began to self-harm and cut herself. Although she was taking her prescribed anti-depressant medication and going to counselling, she overdosed and was hospitalised for two days.

At school she was bullied for getting low grades, as she had a language-based learning condition, and her hospitalisation for her mental health problems. Her mother stated that ‘It didn’t really help that after she got out of the hospital recently some kids started calling her ‘psycho’ and saying she had been in the crazy hospital,” her mother said.

“She went to the hospital, she had therapy, she had counselling, she was on a good track. On the day she gets out, that happens. I shake my head and I think, ‘Are kids really that nasty, do they really not think, what if it was them?’ Sadly it was all too much for Amanda, and on October 10, 2012 she was found dead at her home.

The Investigation, Arrest and Conviction

Amanda Todd

The British Columbia Coroners Service concluded that Amada’s death was as a result of suicide in their preliminary investigation. British Columbia Coroners Service, alongside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, assigned twenty full-time investigators to the case.

The Coquitlam and Ridge Meadows serious crime teams helped with the investigation in their examination into the causes behind Amanda’s death. They conducted interviews and examined social networking sites.

Following an ‘investigation by Facebook’s security unit, whose report was forwarded by U.S. authorities to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre attached to the British National Crime Agency, and then to Dutch authorities.

In January 2014, Dutch police arrested a man in a case involving multiple victims in the Netherlands, U.K., and Canada, ‘having installed spyware on his computers; “chilling” chat logs of extortion, numerous images of child pornography, and 5,800 bookmarked names that served as a database of potential victims and their social networks were found.’

In April 2014, it was reported that Dutch authorities had charged a thirty-five-year-old man known as ‘Aydin C’ (whose name was not revealed due to Dutch privacy laws) with indecent assault and child pornography.

That same month the man was charged with internet luring, criminal harassment and extortion. In addition to this, he was charged with the distribution of child pornography for the offences against Amanda and other children.

Amanda’s mother was thankful to police, however, she believed that more than one person was involved. On 28 January 2015, CBC News reported that Aydin C had written an open letter proclaiming his innocence.

Although Dutch authorities dropped some child pornography charges against him in 2015, he was still facing numerous charges. The case went to trial in February 2017 and concluded on March 16, 2017.

He ‘faced 72 charges of sexual assault and extortion in the Netherlands involving 39 alleged victims (34 young women and five men in countries as various as Britain, Canada, Norway and the United States, some of whom had been harassed for years); eventually convicted and sentenced on the Dutch charges of internet fraud and blackmail.

He faces five separate Canadian charges related to Todd (herself not one of the 39), and it was anticipated that he would be extradited to Canada no sooner than the middle of 2018 whilst serving his Dutch sentence of 10 years and 8 months. Carol Todd expressed relief at the sentence.’

Response

As a result of Amanda’s death, Christy Clark (Premier of British Columbia) made a statement of condolence and ignited a national discussion on the criminalisation of cyberbullying.

Additionally, in the Canadian House of Commons, a motion was introduced in order to propose a study into the scope of bullying in Canada, it also called for more anti-bullying support and funding for organisations.

Amanda’s mother has established the Amanda Todd Trust to support anti-bullying awareness, in terms of education and programmes for young people who need help coping with mental health problems.