VANCOUVER – An anti-bullying expert is defending a memo she co-authored that cautioned school districts around British Columbia about showing classes a YouTube video shot by Amanda Todd before her suicide.
Theresa Campbell helped write the memo only days after the 15-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C., died. The memo advised school districts that it was “preferable” teachers didn’t show Todd’s video, while also offering advice on what steps should be taken if teachers chose to show it.
The memo was sent out Oct. 14 but didn’t come under fire from teachers publicly until the past few days.
“This wasn’t a ‘do not’,” she said of the memo, noting instead it was a “caution” and a document meant to raise awareness.
The video, shot by Todd about a month before her death, details the abuse and torment the teen suffered after exposing her breasts while in Grade 7 to an unidentified man during an online chat.
Campbell said she knows of one case where a student who had previous suicidal thoughts ran out of the class after seeing the video and another where a student who had lost a parent was traumatized.
Classroom teachers typically do not know all of the traumatic histories of every student in their classroom, she said.
The memo said school administrators should approve any decision to show the video, teachers should have the skills to respond to students’ reactions, and schools should be confident counsellors can respond to students’ cries for help.
“Let’s use some caution here and let’s put some thought into this,” she said. “This is a very serious subject. I think we’re all on the same page that we want to have a significant impact on engaging and furthering our education about all the behaviours involved and identified in this case.”
According to the provincial government, Campbell is an international expert on school safety, facilitated in Ottawa and Surrey, B.C., round-table discussions in 2011 on youth violence and gang issues, and co-chaired the 16th World Congress: International Society for Criminology in Japan.