For Every Cut, There Are a Hundred Healers: Honoring the Memory of Amanda Cummings
With the digital age comes incredible technology and with that more opportunities to express oneself and their opinions. However, such expression has lead to all opinions being in an open arena accessible to anyone. Some of those can be incredibly harmful if not downright heartless. It can be especially hard to handle it as a child. However, with every person who aims to cause harm, I believe there are many more who are willing to step in and mend the pain.
On January 8, 2012, the Huffington Post reported the story of a 15 year-old teenager named Amanda Cummings, a student at New Dorp High School in Staten Island, New York. Two days after Christmas, Amanda had committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a bus. Police confirmed the death was a suicide as they found a note in her hand, detailing the harsh break-up between her and her boyfriend. Sadly, there appears to be more Amanda went through than just this break-up.
According to Amanda’s uncle, she had been bullied by her peers at school for most of her life. He said that they often stolen things from her including her shoes, her cellphone, and her jacket. Furthermore, he said Amanda had pleaded for her mother not to say anything, fearing the report would make the bullying far worse.
Unfortunately, the bullying did not stop at her death. On January 6, a local news station in NY, PIX11, had reported that a Facebook page entitled “R.I.P. Amanda Cummings” had been raided with heartless and disgusting comments, making fun of Amanda’s death. These postings have come from many individuals who have designed various websites such as 4chan and 9gag, encouraging visitors to make awful comments on people’s pages like Amanda’s. Many of these comments came from users who live nowhere near her or have ever met her.
I have actually gone to this public Facebook page and believe me, what I saw on there was nothing short of awful! There are a lot of images of Amanda’s head photoshopped on people’s bodies in very offensive positions, and some of them were pornographic. Other photoshopped images show her either engulfed in flames with the words “Hell” written on the image. There are even a few created to illustrate her getting hit by a bus…and making jokes about it.
Despite this hate, there is a silver lining to this tragedy. A friend of Amanda’s, Calien Culver, set up a petition and activist page in memory of Amanda. In addition, it encourages visitors to sign a petition to make cyberbullying a crime. According to the website’s post, they are still seeking signatures.
Needless to say, I’ve already added my signature to this petition and I would strongly encourage everyone to visit and sign their name to show support for this legislation.
This page also contains videos with messages for bully victims not to give up hope and not to fell worthless or unloved.
Taylor Buckeli, another friend of Amanda’s, set up a new “R.I.P” page for her, but has put on extensive security settings and has made the page available only to those who are invited by him. Furthermore, he and his friends have worked diligently to regulate and screen the public Amanda Cummings page to keep any other trolls or cyberbullies from posting their comments.
I do believe there is goodness in peoples' hearts just as much as I believe there are people who have ill-intentions. This is hard for children to handle because they work so hard to be accepted and if they are not, they think there is something wrong with them. Ironically, the ones who commit such acts of bullying may have been victims themselves and are lashing out at others out of frustration. Then again, they may just do it because it makes them feel invincible. Whatever the reasons are for bullying, the fact is there is no justification behind it, yet it has gotten worse through the use of the internet.
In fact, the Huffington Post cited a finding from The NY Times, which stated in 2010 that 1 in 5 middle school students have been victims of cyberbullying.
I do also believe cyberbullying should be considered a crime. Yes, there are support groups out there and school programs to address bullying on a general scale. However, cyberbullying has little oversight by any authority including the government and I think that does need to change. Yes, I understand there are times that kids do grow up and have to learn to be able to handle criticism and teasing, but what’s happening online and even in the real world goes beyond all that. If a child comes up to you and tells you that someone had posted comments about them being fat, slut, dork, or anything of the like, do you really think you can just look them in the eye and tell them to grow up and deal with it? The fact is bullying on such a grand scale as this can cause serious harm and danger to our society, and the government has duty to protect society from serious harm.
While the internet may have spawned more voices of hatred and bigotry, I believe it has spawned even louder voices of support, love, and defense. Even if this legislation doesn’t pan out for whatever reason, that should not stop us nor dampen our will to fight back.
A few months ago, I did an article similar to this story for ViewsHound. It told the story of another bully victim Jaymey Rodemeyer, who also committed suicide. However, before he died, he had posted a video on Youtube addressing bully victims, telling them that in fact that life "does get better."
I believe Jaymey's point has became more apparent with the works of Taylor and Calien. They have come out of the shadows and brought a real sense of hope to those who simply don’t know what to do to make the pain stop. These are not trained rescue operation professionals, technical savvy web language writers, or even lawmakers.
They are people who care. They loved Amanda. They thought of her as forgiving and kindhearted. They have many voices and they are united for a single cause. It is unfortunate what happened to her and what her friends are doing will not bring her back. However, they are honoring her memory by providing support and love to her family who has suffered so much for her loss. They are standing up for all the children and young adults suffering from cyberbullying. They are giving those who feel small and insignificant inside a real chance to feel good about themselves. They are serving as an inspiration to their peers who feel too small and defenseless to stand up and shout out : “ENOUGH, NO MORE!”
They are coming together help children avoid tragedies like those suffered by Amanda and Jaymey.
These young group of teenagers are fighting hard to show there are more people in this world who are willing to express their feelings of love and support for all walks of life. Let’s add our voices to the mix…and prove to them that they are right!