As I read the online news about the recent stories in the media related to sexual exploitation/assault, RCMP investigations, the death of Audrie Potts in California, it made me continue to reflect on how sad it makes me feel that young lives have disappeared and that families are left to pick up the lost pieces.
Many people (young and old) are saying out loud, why do those girls get all the attention in the way they chose to leave the earth. My response would be (and I can only speak for my own daughter): When Amanda left our physical world, she had no idea that she would become a world wide name mentioned everywhere on TV, social media, radio, newspapers, etc. Her dream was not to become posthumously known. That was her dream when she was alive. To be a famous singer and ‘rock the world’. To those that think that the young people who have become known to us in the news wanted to be noticed this way, you are so very wrong. It is just the way it was. The media picked it up and went with it.
Not every teen who self harms fatally is talked about. For the one that is talked about, there are so many that aren’t. The big debate is to whether it should be covered by the media. Should it be talked about at school. Over the dinner table. At church. Does it cause copycat actions? Or does the discussion promote encouragement in teens to talk more about what they are feeling? Or go for help more frequently? Or help a friend in need?
I think I have written about all this before. We need to educate our young people about the signs on mental illness so that they are aware of it within themselves or with their friends. It isn’t anything to hide. It isn’t a medical condition that needs to be laughed at. The brain is just another part of the body. Do we dare laugh at someone with cancer? Or someone who has had to have a leg amputated? So why is it (in the minds of some) OK to laugh and make fun of someone who suffers from mental illness or mental health issues. That is just downright mean, selfish, ignorant, and I am sure there are many more adjectives that can be used.
My next rant would be to ask ‘Are there enough doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinicians, social workers, psychiatric nurses, hospital beds, etc for children and youth in need?’ Is the support timely? If not, why? If yes, what is your city or region doing right? Different cities and countries. I would be interested to know how mental health support care is in other parts of Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.
Another rant I have is this. The media is varied on their reporting of Rehtaeh, Audrie, Amanda and even Phoebe Prince. The media talks about rape (sexual assault) and then sexual expoitation with the photos over social media. Some reporters leave Amanda’s name out. I wonder why. Amanda’s life ended 6 months ago. Is that a long time in media standard? Hate the saying but … old news???? BUT ….. Amanda was also sexually exploited online. Not only by an online predator BUT by other kids who she thought were friends. Once that picture was posted, young people copied that picture into their devices. And yes it was shared many times. Amanda knew some of the kids that shared. She told the RCMP names. They investigated. I loved that at those meetings both the kid and their parents were in attendance and involved in the process of the discussion. More impact. More strength. So yes, Amanda’s picture(s) were shared and reshared during the span of 12 months. That is SEXUAL EXPLOITATION. What we have to remember is that it can’t be defined as a one time event. It can be ongoing. We need to teach our children and youth the values and importance of not condoning behaviours like that. Bystanders need to be the voice and SPEAK OUT.
What happened to Amanda wasn’t that different from what happened to any of those other girls? Just like the snowflakes. No two stories were alike but each girl was unique and fragile in their own way. When we talk as a nation about making change, we need to talk about all the kids that have been affected by adversities.
Remember that the louder the VOICE, the more it will be heard. Let’s join forces to make ourselves heard. You don’t have to have kids or be a parent right now. It’s all about working together as the village to support your world.
xoxo Mama Snowflake