Carol Todd

Carol Todd

Mother of teen suicide victim speaks in Stettler

Carol Todd, mother of British Columbia bullying casualty Amanda Todd, told a Saturday gathering that more family time and Internet education for parents are needed.

STETTLER — Carol Todd, mother of British Columbia bullying casualty Amanda Todd, told a Saturday gathering that more family time and Internet education for parents are needed.

“Family time is so important,” Todd said during her first Alberta visit as an anti-bullying advocate. “Kids are too hooked in to the digital world right now, as are adults.

“The problem right now I see is that landlines are becoming obsolete in homes, and so when we say as parents, to kids, ‘I’m going to take your phone and turn it off,’ we don’t do the same thing. We have to role-model to our kids, before we can expect them to do the same thing.”

Shutting off phones during family meals makes such gatherings more meaningful, she said.

“It’s little things that will make a difference in a fast-paced world. Taking the time to have those dinners, going out for ice cream, going out for a walk and making the rule that you leave your phone at home, and everybody does that, it would just promote more discussion.”

Todd has been talking publicly about bullying since her 15-year-old daughter committed suicide last October in Port Coquitlam, B.C., after posting a poignant video about being cyber-bullied.

Todd, a teacher for 30 years, said her role as an educator has helped her share Amanda’s story and push for societal and government changes.

She believes that parents need to educate themselves about problematic social-media websites.

“It’s up to us as parents to bring it up in conversation with (children) and to know what’s going on so that we can put more safety measures in our kids and teach them what to look for,” said Todd, whose 20-year-old son is a university student.

“And if your child comes and says to you, ‘I did this and it’s on this site,’ you’ll have some background knowledge base on what exactly that site was about and what needs to be done. Instead of floundering around and going, ‘Well, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that site.’

“I see parents using excuses, ‘I don’t have enough time. I’m too busy.’ But are you really too busy? Because this is parenting. It’s a different aspect of parenting now. Technology has just thrown in another responsibility for us as parents, and as teachers. Educators need to also be able to ramp up their knowledge, so that they can talk about it in class.”

While families used to be able to position computers in a central location to monitor Internet visits at home, most teenagers now use personal phones “as their computer,” Todd said.

“I believe that telecommunications companies should also be involved with the (safeguarding) process, because they are actually the ones who sell the telephones and the data plans to each and every family member. They have access to all those families, so if they could become one of those stepping-stones to Internet safety and digital-media safety, it would just help the whole situation.”

From a spring meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speaking to small groups, as she did Saturday, Todd vows to carry on her daughter’s legacy.

One of the teenagers impacted by Amanda Todd’s story addressed the Stettler gathering. Mackenzie Murphy, who turns 14 next month, said that she’s not only a bullying victim.

“I’m a survivor,” said Murphy, an Airdrie resident who was on the verge of committing suicide last December “because I couldn’t pretend anymore” that relentless bullying didn’t hurt.

“One voice is all it takes (to counter bullying). And that’s what we’re going to do. It does get better.”

Her efforts pushed Airdrie city council to make plans for an anti-bullying bylaw that calls for offenders to be fined and attend counselling sessions.

“Amanda Todd inspired my daughter,” said Murphy’s mother, Tara.

“Parents need to wake up and realize that kids need us to be the voice sometimes.”

The goal of such community rallies is to educate youth and adults about bullying signs, and promote an inclusive society, Tara Murphy said.

“It’s about treating people with respect.”

Colourful T-shirts, from pink and lime green to black, dotted the park Saturday for a rally called Free To Be You and Me.

Rally organizer Brandi Page said more people were expected in the evening for the entertainment segment.

In his remarks Saturday afternoon, Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman said he was a victim of “a form of bullying” a decade ago when he was jailed for protesting the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly.

“It just seemed to be an unjust law,” he said. “Bill C-18 changed the federal legislation, giving farmers the right to grow their grain and buy it from and sell it to whoever they want. We were able to make a difference.”

Strankman described bullying as “a societal problem,” and that while the turnout was small for Saturday’s rally, “it’s very important for each and every one of us to recognize that this occurs.”

John MacNeil is the editor/publisher of the Stettler Independent.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Marcus Golczyk, with Taco Monster, hands food to a customer during Food Truck Drive and Dash in the Westerner Park parking lot in Red Deer Friday afternoon. The drive-thru event will run every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff
Food Truck Fridays, Food Truck Drive and Dash return in Red Deer

Red Deerians are able to take in a drive-thru food truck experience… Continue reading

Don and Gloria Moore, of Red Deer, are set to celebrate their 70th anniversary later this month. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer couple to celebrate 70th anniversary

Red Deer couple Don and Gloria Moore are set to celebrate their… Continue reading

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
UPDATE: Central Alberta cafe owner arrested after anti-restriction protest

The owner of a central Alberta cafe, which was the site of… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault chairs a premiers virtual news conference as premiers John Horgan, B.C., Jason Kenney, Alberta, and Scott Moe, Saskatchewan, are seen onscreen, Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Several provinces bring in new restrictions as high COVID-19 case numbers persist

Several provinces are gearing up to tighten public health measures once again… Continue reading

Members of the RCAF take part in a Royal Canadian Air Force change of command ceremony in Ottawa on Friday, May 4, 2018. The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open its doors to military pilots from other countries as it seeks to address a longstanding shortage of experienced aviators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
RCAF turns to foreign pilots to help with shortage as commercial aviators stay away

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Air Force is hoping Canada will open… Continue reading

An arrivals and departures information screen is seen at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Halifax on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The chief executive of Atlantic Canada's largest airport is hoping for COVID-19 testing for arriving passengers "sooner rather than later," as an added measure to combat the province's third wave of the virus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Halifax airport CEO hopes for more on-site COVID testing ‘sooner rather than later’

HALIFAX — The chief executive of Atlantic Canada’s largest airport is hoping… Continue reading

Shoppers wear mask as they shop at a nursery & garden shop on Mother's Day weekend during COVID-19 pandemic in Wilmette, Ill., Saturday, May 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Tearful reunions mark second Mother’s Day under pandemic

Last Mother’s Day, they celebrated with bacon and eggs over FaceTime. This… Continue reading

Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, standing, watches the game during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 5-2. (AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Tocchet won’t return as coach of Coyotes after 4 seasons

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes and coach Rick Tocchet have mutually… Continue reading

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shouts at an official after a fight between Columbus Blue Jackets' s Gavin Bayreuther and Florida Panthers' Sam Bennett during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, April 19, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Tortorella out after 6 years as Columbus Blue Jackets coach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — John Tortorella is out as coach of the Columbus… Continue reading

A caribou grazes on Baffin Island in a 2008 file photo. A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada's vanishing caribou herds is a step closer after a scientific review panel's approval of a plan to permanently pen some animals and breed them to repopulate other herds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kike Calvo via AP Images
Parks Canada captive caribou breeding proposal gets OK from scientific review panel

JASPER, Alta. — A last-ditch attempt to save some of Canada’s vanishing… Continue reading

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., are seen in a May 16, 2011, file photo. The wildfire that is devastating large swaths of the northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray comes just five years after another blaze destroyed 400 buildings and left 2,000 people homeless in Slave Lake, Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson
Ten years later: Five things to know about the Slave Lake wildfire

A wildfire burned about one-third of Slave Lake in northern Alberta in… Continue reading

Most Read