School districts on high alert
Oct 16, 2012 / 12:33 pm
The Central Okanagan School District, like others around the province, is on high alert following the highly publicized suicide of Amanda Todd.
SD23 Superintendent Hugh Gloster says district staff have been reminded the immediate fallout from situations such as this can be a telling time for everyone.
Todd, 15, took her own life last Wednesday, just weeks after posting a haunting video online outlining years of harassment and bullying after she was convinced to expose herself to an unknown man via webcam while in Grade 7.
Gloster says district staff have been reminded that this is a critical time for youth at risk.
"This is getting huge international attention. Because of how much attention it is receiving, we need to be aware there is always increased threat behaviour that is often seen in the period around events such as this," says Gloster.
"We want our staff to be particularly vigilant in terms of understanding how this can intensify already existing symptoms in vulnerable or troubled youth."
Gloster says most at risk or vulnerable students have already been identified by local experts trained in threat and risk assessment.
"That's not to say you can't suddenly find yourself completely surprised by an event like this triggering a reaction from somebody who had otherwise been functioning very, very well."
Several postings of Todd's video on YouTube, including the original, have received more than eight million hits.
A memorial page on Facebook dedicated to her has been liked by more than 500,000 people worldwide.
While Gloster won't quantify whether bullying has declined over recent years, he does say technology has dramatically changed the landscape over the past several years.
"Technology and social media is one way where these kinds of things can be amplified instantly," says Gloster.
"Twitter and Facebook can be very positive vehicles for communication, but when something gets out there, they can be extremely harmful. Sometimes our youth need more support in terms of how to manage themselves in that type of environment."
Gloster says what has become know as cyber bullying takes bullying to a whole new level.
"We are not necessarily comparing apples to apples when we look at our current situation versus that of 10 years ago."
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