She threw me to the ground and punched me several times. Kids filmed it. I was all alone. I just went and laid in a ditch and my dad found me. I wanted to die so bad. I drank bleach. When I got home [from hospital] I saw Facebook – ‘she deserved it. I hope she’s dead’. People posting pictures of bleach and ditches. ‘She should try a different bleach’. ‘I hope she dies this time and isn’t so stupid’. ‘I hope she sees this and kills herself’.
A few weeks later Amanda Todd was found dead in her parents’ home in Canada. She was found in the evening, at 6pm. She was only 15.
This week, data from Australia’s Children’s eSafety Commission revealed 19 per cent of teenagers have suffered abuse online in the last 12 months. That’s almost one in five adolescents, aged between 14 and 17, that are scrolling their phones, social feeds, copping abuse and hate from bullies hiding at the other end of the keyboard.
We know that kids who are bullied are twice as likely to contemplate suicide than those who aren’t.
We also know that one in five teens who are cyber bullied will contemplate suicide. One in 10 will attempt it.
What does this abuse, or cyber bullying, look like?
Lies and rumours take hold. Gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity are the most common topics of target. The teen is laughed at, ridiculed, threatened, harassed. Because of the speed and omnipresence of social media a ripple of hate and abuse quickly becomes sea.
Threats are common. “The plan was to attack me and slam my head into cement,” Nicole Edgington told Choices. The threats started on her 17th birthday, when she began receiving messages through social media and text message. ‘Whore’. ‘Slut’. ‘Snitch’.
Accounts are hacked. Personal, sometimes intimate, photographs are shared without consent.
But teenage victims don’t know when to ask for help.
‘How much online abuse do I have to put up with before I tell someone?’ is one of the saddest questions Australian cyber safety educator Susan McLean has been asked recently by high school students. “We need to do more to encourage that willingness among young people to speak up,” Ms McLean told The Courier Mail.
It’s lonely, being hated by the internet. It can come from all angles, at any time of the day.