By Kayla Doyle
(Editor’s Note: Kayla Doyle is a junior at South Plantation High School in Plantation, Florida and president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. She wrote this blog especially for the Humanity Project. We have posted it to coincide with Spirit Day, when Americans wear purple to show their opposition to bullying and support for LGBT youth.)
Many of you may have heard of a girl named Amanda Todd. She was a high school student in Canada who was bullied to death. Literally. I came to know the story of Amanda through a Facebook page made in her memory. That was when I came across the video she posted on YouTube. The video shows her in front of a camera. You can’t see her face, she isn’t speaking. Instead you’re simply reading the index cards she is flipping through. Those cards tell her story: why she started being bullied, what the students did to her.
Basically, Amanda was bullied because of a bad decision she made while in middle school about sending a nude photo of herself that ended up on the Internet. The bullying got so bad that she was forced to change schools. When the bullying started at her new school too, her family moved out of town completely to escape Amanda’s tormentors. But the torment continued. In her new community Amanda was verbally bullied and also physically beaten. Beaten so bad that the students left her in a ditch with no help. Her dad eventually found her and, that same night, Amanda made her first attempt at suicide. She was unsuccessful. She tried multiple times, none of which ended the way she wanted. A few days ago, though, she was successful. Amanda hanged herself. My point in writing this blog, telling you Amanda’s story, is to show my fellow students the possible consequences of mistreating others. Bullying does major damage … physically, mentally and emotionally. I think Amanda needed a friend. Someone who would have told her not to worry about it. Not to take what those kids were saying to heart. Amanda knew that she was a good person who made a bad decision, but that this decision didn’t mean she was bad. That didn’t mean that she was any less a human that anyone else. We all make mistakes.
Many of us bully people without even realizing it. I will admit that I have bullied people myself. Not by saying things to anyone’s face, and definitely not by physically hurting someone. I bullied by talking about someone behind their back. We all do it. We all are guilty of it at one point or another but we must begin to realize how we’re affecting someone else’s life. We don’t know what they’re thinking, what their home life is like, how they really feel. We don’t know what’s going on inside them. The Amanda Todd situation, along with hundreds of thousands of other bullying incidents, could have been prevented. It’s up to us as students to be a friend, to stop bullying if we do it, to report it if we see it. We can’t grow up thinking that it’s okay. A life is precious. Even after the bullying stops, the physical and emotional scars never go away. Bullying will affect a person’s life forever. I wish that all of those kids who committed suicide for being bullied, or for any reason, could have realized that suicide is a permanent decision for a temporary situation. And I wish that the bullies would read this and understand the impact they have on some people. I wish they would realize that it’s not okay to hurt someone so bad that they commit suicide. Students who are being bullied also must take responsibility to find someone, anyone, who cares. There always is someone around who can help. Someone they can talk to whether it’s a teacher, a parent, a counselor or a friend. That must be part of our message to students who are bullied: “Do not make a permanent decision based on a temporary situation. We will miss you. Trust me, we will. And there is help, somewhere, because people really do care.”