The mother of Amanda Todd, the Port Coquitlam teenager who committed suicide after being cyberbullied, wants to say thanks.
Carol Todd is expressing her gratitude to Kristi Essler and Holly Weir, two UBC Okanagan students who have launched an online petition to convince Facebook officials to change their policies to make it easier to report online bullying.
"I saw the petition and then I saw the article in The Daily Courier about what they had written about Facebook, the hate pages, and wanting to make a difference," said Todd in a phone interview on Sunday.
Todd said that after her daughter died, several impersonation accounts of her daughter came out on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. She said trying to get rid of them was a challenge.
She said when she read that Essler and Weir wanted to make changes to how online bullying is reported, it led to her contacting them.
"I'm not sure what the criteria is to get some of these pages to be taken down, but it took a lot of people to report and report to get rid of them," she said.
Amanda Todd made news worldwide when she died on Oct. 10 after posting a YouTube video about being bullied, physically assaulted and blackmailed.
"It was such an incredible opportunity to hear from someone who has been directly impacted by the consequences of cyberbullying and has actively engaged in projects to end this online harassment in memory of Amanda," said Kristi Essler.
In their conversation, Todd directed Essler and Weir to The Red Hood Project (www.redhoodproject.com), a movement originating in Vancouver, that is in honour of Amanda Todd and other victims of cyberbullying. The project is dedicated to initiate an industry wide movement towards improving the social responsibility of social media sites in protecting the safety and accessibility of media content for young children and youth online. The Red Hood Project has begun a similar petition which will be sent to the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg.
"Carol Todd has provided Holly and I with unmeasurable support for our movement and has acted as an activist in linking us with the various other projects that are ongoing towards ending cyberbullying in the memory of Amanda and the countless others who have endured ongoing harassment at the hands of others hidden behind a computer screen," said Essler.
Essler and Weir, who are third-year bachelor of social work students at UBC Okanagan, started the project for an assignment in their Social Work Theory and Practice class. As of Sunday, they've already collected over 1,200 signatures on their online petition on causes.com They plan on continuing to keep the petition going to influence Facebook to make changes, even after their project is due on April 4.
Todd says that life is still difficult without her daughter, but seeing young people like Essler and Weir, brings her some peace.
"It's still difficult. What drives me is that her legacy and her name is out there and that it has made people think about cyberbullying, mental health and social media. It's the people out there who are trying to make a difference that makes me better day to day," she said.
Todd hopes to collaborate with them on projects in the future and wants to come to Kelowna to meet them.
For more information on Amanda Todd visit: amandatoddlegacy.org and Carol Todd's blog at: caroltoddsnowflakes.wordpress.com
You can still sign Essler and Weir's petition online at www.causes.com by typing cyberbullying in the search window.