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Amanda Todd: The Case Of Online Abuse

The Suicide of Amanda Todd and the Sexual Extortion That Led to Her Death

For most, when the name Amanda Todd is heard, a mental impression of a young, apparently emotionally fragile girl on YouTube telling the world what distress she was put through by her peers and an unidentified figure online comes to mind. The video titled ‘My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide and Self Harm’ highlights her mental decline after one blunder ruined the rest of her short life and how that blunder led to many failed suicide attempts and finally, her successful suicide at the mere age of 15.

How can such a young and beautifully spirited child feel so lost and powerless that committing suicide in her mum’s home seemed like her best option? That question still somehow stays unknown; the Royal Canadian Authorities didn’t begin investigating the case until after Amanda committed suicide and her video went viral.

Amanda And Online Abuse

Pic: Wikipedia

Even after numerous calls were made to authorities claiming that Amanda, a minor, was being sexually victimized and exploited online, the family was bluntly told that if Amanda couldn’t save herself online, there was nothing they could do.

We all must be wondering the same thing; what is the difference between a pedophile on the street that persuades children to their vehicle with promises of candy and one that is online, hiding behind a screen with enormous routes of potential information victims? In my personal belief, the latter is much scarier; facelessness brings relief for those who must hide their inner vicious desires and in turn makes opportunities of reoffending much more likely.

Amanda was raised in a small town in British Columbia, Canada. She was characterized by her mum as a strong-spirited child that was incredibly shy and withdrawn at times, but normal outside of that. Her parents divorced when she was a kid and she preferred to live with her father to avoid her mum’s harsher rules.

Youtube

Her biggest pleasure in life was making YouTube videos of herself singing covers of her favorite songs- her mum forbids the opportunity of her having a webcam in her house to record her videos but her dad allowed it. When she first got the cam, it started innocently; singing along cheerfully and attempting to find herself but as she aged and her attention turned to boys, the webcam ultimately became a portal into a darker and much more ‘grown up’ world. That was the world of online video chat where you can chat with anyone around the world and be unknown.

Amanda started to receive praises a teenager beginning to find herself couldn’t ignore: You’re so gorgeous or ‘You’re perfect’ are the compliments she started to hear from young boys around the world and ultimately these began to turn into issues or demands for her to show her body or perform certain explicit acts on camera. For a while, she said no but her appetite for attention became deeper and she needed more to satisfy it; On one fateful webcam performance, she decided to pull up her shirt and flash her bare breasts for watchers behind the screen.

Next Year

She thought nothing of it and went about her life for the next year until she received a message on Facebook from an unidentified user with a screenshot of the naked picture and demanded that she perform sex acts on camera or they will send it to everyone she knew. She rejected to play along with these demands and that Christmas Day, at 4:00 a.m.

Canadian police showed up at Amanda’s home with news of her picture being sent to teachers, administrators, parents, and students; from this point on, Amanda’s whole existence altered for the worst.

After her dark secret came to light, Amanda was ostracized by her peers; she started sitting alone at lunch, staying home during the weekends and holiday breaks, and started to abuse drugs and alcohol. Everything appeared to slow down after Amanda switched schools to avoid the distress of her peers and that’s when she met a new boy online that claimed to have feelings for her despite having a girlfriend. When his girlfriend went on holiday, he invited her over to hang out and they had sex.

A Week Later

A week later, she received frightening messages from the boy’s girlfriend and she was ultimately cornered in the hallway as a mob chanted ‘Just hit her!’ and were recording it on their cellphones. The girl ultimately gave in and started to punch Amanda in the face repeatedly as the crowd watched.

Afterward, Amanda crawled into a ditch outside of the school and lay there until her dad found her. She claimed at this moment, she questioned why she was still alive. She went home and drank bleach in a try to kill herself. Her parents found her just in time and she was hurried to the hospital where her stomach was pumped. When she got online following the incident, she was tagged in post after post of her peers saying her she should try again, and this time to use a powerful bleach. Amanda transferred schools again after this incident once the students in the school started to torment her and it appeared as if things started to once again look brighter for her.

New School

As soon as she seemed to resolve into the new school and started making new friends, she received a notification on Facebook that sent chills down her spine; an unidentified profile with the profile picture set as the screenshot nude photo of her and a message telling her that no issue where she goes, who she dates, or how hard she attempts to escape what she did, they will always discover her. Soon after she started being harassed for the third time, she made the YouTube video as a way of purifying her demons and stated that she was going to get a tattoo on her wrist that says ‘stay strong’ so anytime she went to self-harm, she would see that message.

Devastatingly, Amanda was never able to get that tattoo. On October 10, 2012, Amanda hung herself in her bedroom soon before her mum arrived home from work that evening. Her last message to her mum was pleading for her not to be furious with her.

After Amanda committed suicide, Canadian administrations decided to step in and examine the case. The unidentified stalker and abuser online that caused Amanda’s suicide would make undercover Facebook profiles posing as a future student of whatever school she was going to at the time, and once names and data on her peers were obtained, a mass photo would be sent out to parents, faculty, and students.

They put 20 investigators on the case and the severe crime teams performed a full investigation including performing interviews, reviewing the content on social media pages, and examining other factors that might have contributed to her untimely death. The Canadian Anti-Child Exploitation group stated that they received an unidentified tip in November of 2011 from an anxious citizen that saw Amanda’s picture circulating the internet and this data was forwarded to the proper authorities.

Facebook worked with its security unit and Dutch authorities to track down a man responsible for defrauding numerous victims online across the Netherlands, the U.K., and Canada. After installing spyware on his computers, a cache of explicit conversations with minors, dozens of pictures of child pornography, and 5,800 bookmarked names of potential victims with their social media profiles were found on the hard drive.

In April 2014 Dutch authorities arrested a 35-year-old man for indecent attack and child pornography. He was also charged with cheating, internet luring, criminal harassment, and possession/distribution of child pornography; these crimes were all committed against Todd and other young victims. Aydin Coban, the Dutch native that was responsible for Amanda’s suicide confronted 72 charges of sexual assault and extortion. He will also shortly be extradited to Canada to face five different charges associated with Amanda’s death.

Amanda’s mum claims that Aydin’s arrest gave her solace but she thinks that more than one person was responsible for her extortion.

On October 19, 2012, a series of vigils were held across Canada in memory of Amanda and other casualties of bullying. A minute of silence was held between a quarter of a million students in the Toronto School District.

The group ‘Anonymous’ released a statement online claiming that authorities charged the wrong man about her death and listed the name and address of who they suspected to be the true demon; when Canadian governments investigated, they claimed that these accusations were unfounded.

Carol Todd established the Amanda Todd Foundation in her daughter’s remembrance to help anti-bullying awareness programs. In wake of Amanda’s suicide, Justice Minister Peter MacKay introduced Bill C-13, an anti-cyberbullying and revenge porn legislation that went into effect on March 9, 2015.

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