by Paige Hoblak, Contributor
“Words hurt. Someone doesn’t have to die for people to realize this,” said Grade 8 student Jenny Stobbart, who was among 45 community members at a candlelight vigil outside Abbotsford city hall on Friday night to raise awareness against bullying in response to the suicide of Amanda Todd.
Along with Stobbart, most of the attendees were no stranger to the cruelty of bullying.
Participants wore pink in remembrance of Todd, a 15-year-old Port Coquitlam girl who recently committed suicide. She posted a video on YouTube in which she used a series of flash cards to tell of her experience of being blackmailed, bullied, and physically assaulted.
Community activist Lakhbinder Jhaja addressed the issue with a brief speech before calling on those gathered to light their candles.
Sukhi Dhami was one of the vigil organizers who knew all too well about the realities of bullying. Dhami has now come to terms with a past plagued with bullying. However, he admitted that the memories of those days are forever haunting.
He said a majority of people who are guilty of bullying are unaware of the emotional damage they are causing their victims.
“If we can create awareness in the community, we can subsequently provide consciousness.”
Grade 12 student Armaan Jhaj witnessed the impact upon his peers as the news of Todd spread through his high school.
“There have been so many young deaths, action needs to follow.”
Jhaj stressed the importance of the education system to establish a plan for students that addresses all aspects of bullying including awareness, prevention, and a safety net for victims.
“The legacy of Amanda Todd transpires at a heavy cost,” he, adding that it shows the need to challenge the existing education system.