Marshall Police Department provides 'cyber bullying' presentation

Friday, February 27, 2015
First Christian Church youth group watch teens react to Amanda Todd's viral video.

Amanda Todd was fifteen years old when she committed suicide.

After a year-long correspondence with an online stranger, she was persuaded to send him an intimate photo. The result was a snowball effect.

One year later, 35-year-old suspect "Aydin C.", sent Todd a Facebook message, threatening to release her photo if she did not adhere to his demands. When she refused, the photo was used as Aydin's Facebook profile photo; to guarantee humiliation, he added a large number of Todd's friends. She was ridiculed, physically assaulted and alienated from her peers. After posting a YouTube video, Todd's story went viral, garnering both support and further disdain. On October 10, 2012, she took her own life.

Unfortunately, her story is not unique. "Cyberbullying" is now a familiar term. According to stopbullying.gov, 15 percent of high school students have received online threats, while 9 percent of children in grades 6-12 were cyberbullied in the past year.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the Marshall Police Department sought to decrease those numbers with an event at First Christian Church.

Partnering with Youth Group Leader Kris Milleron, Sgt. Roger Gibson presented a powerpoint and video, featuring real teenagers reacting to Todd's story.

"[The video] was teens talking to teens," Gibson said. "So it was very informative for them. They got to hear it from kids close to their age and how it affected them, what they thought about it, and what they could do to prevent it."

The occasion was an interactive experience. Young people volunteered their own stories and made connections with Officer Luke Vance, Officer Jeremy Girens and Sgt. Roger Gibson.

Milleron challenged youth to recall facts about officers, the reward a large bag of candy.

In an attempt to reestablish positive connection with law enforcement, dinner conversation was encouraged.

"[Youth don't usually think] if I'm trouble I can go to them for help." Milleron said. "We're trying to reinforce that with them and remind them of that."

Gibson said he believes the message was heard, as he and those present discussed yielding negative behavior.

"We don't know where people are at in their lives, and what's going to be that one little [thing] that pushes them over the edge."

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