Tragedy shouldn’t be pushed aside with kid gloves

It’s a classic instance of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It’s a classic instance of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

The B.C. Ministry of Education’s advice that teachers not to show the Amanda Todd video in class, well-intentioned as it may be, ignores realities of modern-day life that contributed to the untimely death of the Port Coquitlam teenager.

The fact is that more than 20 million people have already viewed the YouTube video in which Todd, 15, detailed the bullying which is believed to have led to her suicide on Oct. 10.

While the tragedy has occasioned hand-wringing op-ed pieces galore, what has been missing for most students is relevant discussion in the one forum where they supposedly receive an education to prepare them for the real world.

It’s possible that Todd’s plight, which began with an unwise posting online – and was exacerbated by cyber-bullying, physical abuse and blackmail – could provide some hard but necessary life lessons for teens. It could give immediacy to discussions of what constitutes bullying, and why it should be unacceptable.

Instead, the ministry’s suggestion for dealing with a viral video comes across as ineffective vaccine. What educational opportunities are lost by directing parents and young people – many of whom have probably seen the Todd video already – to anti-bullying websites employing non-specific examples to discuss the issues?

The Oct. 14 memo from the ministry to school boards speaks of concerns that showing the video might increase the risk of suicidal behaviour among students who identify with Todd’s story. Clearly there is a need for sensitivity – a reluctance to inspire imitative incidents, as well as a desire to respect privacy of families involved. But in creating her video and posting it online, Amanda Todd clearly sought to make her situation public. She exposed a tragic problem, and provoked discussion that could prevent other, similar tragedies from occurring.

Perhaps it’s time we addressed some of the causative issues of such suicides, rather than letting our sensitivities sweep them under the rug.

-Peace Arch News