BRAVO TO THE GREEN THUMB THEATRE FOR ‘TAGGED’ – Feb 10, 2015

As I walked through the hallways of one of the middle schools that Amanda attended, there was a sense of calmness.  I wasn’t sure why or what it could be.  When I later talked to one of the teachers, she said that there had been a play that morning called TAGGED as performed by the Green Thumb Theatre from Vancouver BC.

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In doing a further search, I found out that that TAGGED will be performed soon in Calgary, Saskatoon and Toronto.  I wish that Amanda were here to see these kind of performances now. I wish the landscape had been different when she was 13, back when we were all just learning more about the internet.  I hope that with young students watching this with their teachers, the kids can go home and talk to their families about what they say and hopefully what they learned.  We learned from Amanda’s mistakes.  The police learned from Amanda’s mistakes.  We don’t want those mistakes to happen again.

There is a complete study guide that goes with the play that is online.  Even if you have not yet seen or had this performance in your schools, go take a look at the guide.  It is very straight forward and gives the beginnings of opening up a class discussion.

Performing soon in – Toronto, Saskatoon and Calgary and also in BC schools –> TAGGED by the Green Thumb Theatre​

BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION

The landscape of bullying in this country has changed drastically with the advent and popularity of social media. Gone are the days of being bullied on the schoolyard but being able to go home to the safety of closed doors; the internet exists beyond doors, beyond walls beyond structures of any kind.

Green Thumb Theatre approached me to write this play just as Amanda Todd’s horrendously sad story hit the mainstream press. Amanda (from Port Coquitlam, BC) was by no means the first young person to take her life as a result of the toxicity of social media, and she has by no means been the last. Rehtaeh Parsons in Dartmouth, NS, Todd Loik in North Battleford, SK and countless others have received massive media attention leading to a major shift on how we, as a nation, approach cyberbullying and online accountability. Many provinces have stepped up to the plate and brought in massive legal changes.

So how to discuss that with a high school audience? As honestly and relatably as possible. The core of the piece, in its research phase and later in workshop was really about trying to honestly discuss the way young people engage online and its implications. This is a generation who grew up with the internet, it’s a fundamental part of how they communicate. Rather than focusing on the sad realities of the prominent cyberbullying cases in Canada, my task became to look at the psychology behind online behaviour: the posting and subsequent reposting of images and text, the quest to be seen, or even to find fame through online activity, and the reliance on social media as the mouthpiece of this generation.

The play is not about any of these cases, but becomes a theatrical conversation about their underlying themes. It is a play about the here and now that hopefully can introduce the possibility of honest conversation in the classroom and the hallways. I hope it does.

Dave Deveau October 2013

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A lot concerned …. (February 7, 2015)

I was going through my Facebook today when a message popped up from someone sharing a story about bullying from the U.S.  I went and read the story and the mother and I connected.  I was stunned, shocked and saddened by the story.  So much that I will share it here so that it becomes a link to read.  I believe the messaging needs to be stronger and not only shared but TAUGHT to our children.  This is the story from a mom in Georgia, U.S.A. Strength takes numbers just like snowballs are made from billions of snowflakes.

Mindy White 

ATTENTION ALL PARENTS… I am a very concerned mother of four. Today my 12 year old daughter was attacked from behind in the bathroom at her school by a girl on the football team twice her size. This same girl has been bullying my child all year. There are 3 girls that are involved in picking on my daughter daily. The bully and her 2 friends do something daily. They have pushed her down the bleachers. From the top bleacher. They have pulled her hair. Pushed her down. Embarrassed her. Cussed her. Hit her. Screamed in her face. low rated her. And threatened her. I have been to the school several times this year and this has only progressed. Right now my honor roll student is in the hospital. My daughter has never ever been in trouble. She has never even had a bad face in her agenda. Her name on the board. Nothing. She’s a straight A student. In all advanced classes. The smartest kid in her school last year. She use to love school. Now she begs me to not make her go. She sleeps all day. She never smiles. She’s depressed. Her doctor has referred her to counseling. She sees a therapist once a week now. Today when her friend called me I could hear my child in the background getting beat up. That’s a horrible feeling. And when I got there and learned that the mother of this bully was there and not only provoked it but grabbed my child by the hair and slammed her head in a trash can , I was furious. Not only was my child defending herself from this girl that is twice her size , bullying her everyday ,but from her mother who’s twice my size. The assist principal says these incidents are accidents based on the statements he got from other girls that are being bullied. He says that my child will be suspended for not properly defending herself. These girls were NEVER suspended for any of their actions prior to today. My daughter walked away and asked her to leave her alone. She told on them. She told me. I’ve been to the school. I have students calling me afraid to go to school. And Of course no one wants to stand up to this girl. No one wants to be laying in this hospital bed right now. Several girls in middle school have committed suicide this year in our county. As a widow of suicide, I’m terrified. I lost my husband. I can’t loose my kids. I will not stand for this. The school system has failed me and my daughter. No child should be scared to go to school. I encourage all the parents that have children being bullied to take a stand today. Tomorrow may be too late. And like you all i never thought it would come to this. My baby is hurt. Mentally physically and emotionally. Unlike my daughter I will fight. And I’m going to. I will be at temple middle school in the morning. I will be at the board of education Monday morning. And I will be picking up my police report and taking out a warrant on this mother Monday morning. And if I’m not satisfied I will go further. In the past hour 7 parents that don’t even know me have called me and said their child is also being bullied by this same girl. This will not stop until we as parents stop it. I’m asking you all as a community as parents as mothers to stand up. Stand with me.

#SayItWithSnowflakes    #KindEveryTime    #DaretoCare  #RiseAgainstBullying   #EverythingStartswith1 

www.amandatoddlegacy.org ,  https://www.facebook.com/BETHEGAME4Change,  http://daretocare.ca,  https://www.facebook.com/RiseAgainstBullyingTogether,  http://www.everythingstartswith1.org

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LOVE IT when a young person sees life in a different way …. ~ JAN 20, 2015

Getting this message last night made me smile.  So much that I asked the young person to copy it to me so that I could share it.  Why one may ask?  Because it is worth sharing.  On the news, we hear so much about life gone wrong.  Buildings burning down.  Floods.  Tragic accidents.  Lives lost.

Also because it was written by a young teen. She shared it on her FBook wall because she felt it was important and because she cared.  Feeling a sense of empathy and compassion is what we strive for in building relationships.  Our schools teach it.  Our homes and families try to instill it.  We never know it is working until we read the written stories and listen to the words as they are told. I hope that this young girl goes back next Tuesday night and I hope the older gentleman is there playing the piano.  #SayItWithSnowflakes

“So I was with my friends and we were chilling at Leigh square and I heard somebody playing piano… So I walked away from my friends, and was listening to this man playing piano. I snuck into Leigh square, sat down and was listening to him play piano for 40 minutes. He didn’t know I was there until I coughed, and he said, “oh hello there dear!” And I said, “hello, you are amazing at piano, how long have you been playing for?” He said, “since I was 8, so about 85 years!” Im like, “wow you’re Amazing!” And then we started talking, he told me that his wife of 57 years died today and they played piano together there every Tuesday and it was Tuesday and he wanted to honour her. He started to cry so I gave him a huge hug! Then I found out he was 93 years old, and battling cancer. He told me that his wife died from brain cancer, and he was currently fighting lung cancer. I gave him another hug, wished him all the best, and he said, “thank you for comforting me and taking the time out of your busy life to listen to me and talk with me. No body seems to do that anymore. Come watch me at the same time next Tuesday!” And I said that I will come watch him every single tuesday, and talk with him. Elders make me so happy. :’)”

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Reflections on Amanda Todd’s Choice and Community – written on October 14, 2012

https://briesbreeze.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/reflections-on-amanda-todds-choice-and-community/

The writer of this blog contacted me this week via email with the words:

“Dear Carol ~~ I’m not exactly sure how to begin this letter.  How does one begin such a letter to a mother so full of love despite the heartwrenching pain?”

And then I read her blog that was written on October 14, 2012.  Reading her words now ~ 2 years and 3 months and one day later, her words are filled with sadness, shock and emotions.  The words she has written are ringing more true than ever.  Amanda’s death (no matter how we describe it) has indeed been a call to action.  She continues to wake people up as to how vulnerable the people living in it are.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are describing youth, young adults or older adults.  There is a raw emotional need to fit in but yet, we need to know how to respect each others differences in the fitting in process.  I hope that you can share this blog as it was written with the raw emotion of a young woman days after Amanda’s death.  And it was in those days that I only remember living in automation and being guided by those and loved and cared about me.  I will always be thankful and grateful because if this hadn’t happened, I am not sure if Amanda’s Legacy would have been created.  Thank you Brie xoxo

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I am wracked with pain over the recent death of Amanda Todd, whose devastating line-up of experiences lead to her choice to end her life.  Having worked with young women for over a decade to inspire their sense of confidence and community, I am moved to speak to this issue.
In a fleeting single moment informed by vulnerability, Amanda Todd made a choice that changed the course of her destiny.  She objectified herself to find external affirmation because that experience outshone what it was for her to source it from within.  Her choice represents that of hundreds that have simply gone unseen.  It speaks to a sexually exploiting cultural fabric in which young women are challenged to know their own boundaries, to say nothing of their true and inherent worth. Youth are taught roles and value before they have the maturity to moderate their understanding of where stereotypes are coming from.  A culture that presents such a narrow range of options for whole construction of identity is not a healthy one.  Nor is one in which one man’s deleterious choice to blackmail – enough harm done – eilicits a domino effect: a whole troop of youth bring physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual violence to an aching member of their community.
As a society, we are all accountable.  Amanda’s death is a call to action.  We must bring medicine to remedy the social malheurs that befall our communities.  This I know is true:  Youth are sensitive and emotional; they move with inspiration or desparation.  They are vulnerable, but taught their own strength, are courageous as hell.  Connection and community forge pathways through the fearful social climate they navigate every day.  What if the youth around Amanda had learned healthy, constructive, and non-violent communication strategies to find their way clear?  What if Amanda Todd had known the value of loving the skin she’s in?  What if media literacy were considered as valuable as literacy and young women were taught to take a stand not only for the legacy they want to create, but for the value of community and connectivity in creating it.  What if a young woman was taught to value her substance, complexity, and unique humanity more than her body parts?
I believe in the power of social change movements.
Join me by lighting a candle this evening and setting an intention for the world you want to see.  May we begin by contemplating the light that shines within us.  From this recognition, what world can we envision?  What one thing will you do for a teen in your life today?  What conversation will you have tomorrow?  What will you teach?  Who will you be?
Yours in creating a more loving world for young women,
Brie
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Reflections on Amanda Todd’s Choice and Community

Originally posted on Brie's Breeze:

I am wracked with pain over the recent death of Amanda Todd, whose devastating line-up of experiences lead to her choice to end her life.  Having worked with young women for over a decade to inspire their sense of confidence and community, I am moved to speak to this issue.  
 
In a fleeting single moment informed by vulnerability, Amanda Todd made a choice that changed the course of her destiny.  She objectified herself to find external affirmation because that experience outshone what it was for her to source it from within.  Her choice represents that of hundreds that have simply gone unseen.  It speaks to a sexually exploiting cultural fabric in which young women are challenged to know their own boundaries, to say nothing of their true and inherent worth. Youth are taught roles and value before they have the maturity to moderate their understanding of where stereotypes…

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A big thank you hug for 2014!!! (12/31/14)

I want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone out there who supports, encourages and cares about me (and Amanda). Without any of you out there, there would NOT be a Legacy for us to follow and learn from. So from the bottom of my heart, I love you all so very very much. I couldn’t even begin saying names because there are so many of them and from all over the world. Each and every one of you out there have warmed my heart, have picked me up when I am down, have handed me my virtual kleenexes and have sent me words of HOPE and INSPIRATION, have supported Amanda’s Legacy with the sharing of bracelets and the purchasing of hoodies and t-shirts. It leaves me speechless.

I can’t say what 2015 will hold. Every year is a new year. We wake up to new things all the time. But I am hoping that Amanda’s Legacy Society will be bigger and louder (with all your help).

Have a Safe and Happy New Years tonight. And we will journey 2015 together.

#SayItWith Snowflakes

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PayItForward – #SayItWithSnowflakes – 12/23/14

Merry Christmas early.  It was another interesting day before Christmas Eve.  Traffic was horrible. The trains crossing major roads were slow.  Drivers were temperamental if traffic was slow.  Lots of accidents out there.

I tried to find a tape dispenser to make wrapping presents easier.  Went to 5 stores.  Nothing.  Then ended up at the dollar store and found one for only $3.50.  Not bad considering that I would have paid a lot more in a stationary store.  Put tape in it.  It worked.  So happy.  As Neil Pasricha would say ‘Awesome’.

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Early this afternoon, I got a ping on my email.  It was from CTV in Toronto – CP24 with news that there were 2 cases of sexual exploitation and online extortion coming out of Australia.  One of the targeted victims was an 8 year old girl from the Toronto area.  This fellow had found the girl on a social media site and befriended her.  He is now charged with (I believe) 17 charges.  CP24 – Toronto’s Breaking News  I was asked if I could share some comments via a phone interview.  It was interesting.  One of the questions was – Have I felt that Amanda’s story has made an impact or change?   I would have to say yes as also Stephanie Morgan stated in the Fifth Estate.  Law enforcement looks more closely and carefully now at cases that come up.  Amanda’s story has made sure that of that.   Also in the past month, there have been numerous investigations and people charged with online luring, child pornography

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The night ended with a PIF.  Rob and I went out to get a bite to eat after more Christmas shopping.  When we arrived, the local eatery gave us complimentary grape juice for being regular customers.  While sitting and chatting, we noticed a young couple engaged in conversation and enjoying some beverages.  We decided to pay for their beverages before leaving.  We only hope that they will PIF to someone else in the coming days and/or share the story.

#SayItWithSnowflakes 

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