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Mental Health

Slut Shamed Teens: The Amanda Todd Story

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by Sarah Devine

I have encountered several stories recently about slut-shamed teens who have taken their own lives, including Amanda Todd, who was harassed through Facebook and other social media after exposing her breasts to a much older man. Obviously, these stories highlight the continued need to address bullying and harassment–and to take it seriously, not dismissing it as a “phase” youth go through–and to teach young people how to protect themselves online (Amanda Todd’s harrasser found much of her personal information online, including where she lived and what school she attended).

Despite the internet’s centrality to many young people’s lives, some youth remain unaware of the dangers of posting personal information and photos to social networking sites–or even sending them to friends. Images and words can “live” on the internet forever, facilitating long-term bullying and harassment that the victim is powerless to escape.

Of course, there are larger concerns also, including how a 30-year-old man who could bully a 7th-grader and distribute a topless photo of her without punishment, or how she could suffer such extreme bullying at school without the intervention of parents, teachers or staff. And, perhaps largest of all, how patriarchy continues to enable slut-shaming in our society.

None of these concerns are going to disappear anytime soon, but as someone who works with teenage girls they are always present in some form or another. Many of the girls I work with can describe slut-shaming to a T, but they wouldn’t call it that. To them, it’s how life is; a girl expresses her sexuality somehow (or simply has rumors spread about her to that effect) and her peers come down hard on her with oppressive, shameful comments. I think that the first step is to help youth recognize how inappropriate and misogynistic these actions are. So may girls are growing up without a feminist vocabulary to help them make sense of the sexist and oppressive dynamics they are inevitably being exposed to at school and in the media. Here is a video of Amanda Todd made days before her suicide.

Update

To view archive visit this link: http://storify.com/SWUnited/slut-shaming-and-the-amanda-todd-story#publicize

Sarah Devine works for a domestic violence agency doing prevention education with teens.

13 Comments

Thanks for sharing this important information!

DeeJay BeWy says:

Hey perso Amanda is dead because of you. Isn’t it time to move on. You mention another young girl who was also screen capped….another one of your victims. You say you have over 9000 boys and girls whom you have sexually assaulted. we know who you are,

DeeJay BeWy says:

perso the pedo your obsession with Amanda is showing

DeeJay BeWy says:

He is the one who screen capped Amanda and was so obsessed he drove her to her death and is still going after her mother. His name is fictitious and if you have his IP address, then contact me because I am now working with Carol Todd and the police to get this guy off the net. Read my reply to him to find out more.

DeeJay BeWy says:

Hey perso the pedo who was the one who capped Amanda and is so obsessed with her still you hve told her mother to go kill herself. Tick tock pedo. I have a blog with screen caps of you admitting to being perso and also to having sexually abused over 9000 boys and girls which is the number of fans you falsely claim to have on your insane psycho babble of a blog. It was not Kody. It was you. You are angry because no one figured that out but be happy because I did. You fit the pedophile stalker to a T. You lost your victim so you go after her mom. I have your real IP, have seen pics of you and have your admission so nothing you say anywhere on the net can be believed. You are using a fake name to target people. You will be stopped and our kids will be safe from you.

Gracie says:

It appears you missed the entire point of the article completely or you’re ignoring it on purpose, where are your sources that Amanda did drugs, drank and GOD FORBID had sex? Even if it were the case, for the sake of the argument how does that make it okay for her to have hell unleashed upon her? Your statements are all basically saying that yes she was a “slut” and deserved everything that was coming to her. That’s exactly what the OP was saying, people like YOU are the problem. You’re victim blaming, slut shaming, passive aggressive misogyny is sickening and glaringly obvious. Good news is you don’t have to feel empathy for Amanda, because unlike you, there are individuals out there who have a clear, level head on this issue who can see past the smoke and mirrors of people like you Philip, I seriously hope that you don’t have any children.

Philip Rose says:

I have no interest in providing a state of mind. I am only interested in what the evidence and the facts say. She was, for want of a better phrase, addicted to the Internet. She was also, mentally, very unstable. She got into drink, drugs, sex. This is not a story of old-man-predator, it’s a story of the complete failure to look after a very vulnerable child. She was crying out for help – in the video,she says she’s alone – where were the parents/carers. She enjoyed what she was doing online and got out of her depth (it reminds me slightly of the Jessie Slaughter story). If you turn it too much into a sensationalised story of online predation, or put too much emphasis on bullying, you risk, as a social worker, not seeing the underlying problems that were there. And btw – no, I’m not a pedophile, and yes, I have no empathy.

SWhelper says:

When I read your comments, my impression is not of someone who is looking at this incident as another internet viewer. You seem to be invested in providing a state of mind for a young teenager who can no longer speak for herself. Your lack of empathy for a young person who took her own life is astonishing. I have no other questions just observations. You do know this is a social work website, I analyze people motives, what’s said, and what’s not said for a living.

Philip Rose says:

To a certain extent, you’ve misunderstood. If it is the 19 year old, he would possibly have still been a minor when the situation occurred. However, you have also perhaps misunderstood the story. Over a period of at least a year, Amanda Todd did live ‘shows’ voluntarily – she was not tricked, or coerced. Her photos were widely available; she was infamous online; she was mentioned on the Capper Awards. The story of her pics being distributed is, currently, not certain, and the age/existence of any online person is still vague. This is the story of parental incompetence, the dangers of BlogTV (from which she was banned) and other websites, the naivete of girls (as you have mentioned). But the ‘online predator/older man’ is a myth – she had multiple online identities (pretending to be 21 on one, 35 on another!) and gave away all her details freely – there was no need to ‘stalk’ her. She was taken off the Internet – it died down – but she went back on again and got into the same mess. I have a feeling there were no charges because there was no case – perhaps we will never know. But remember, the majority of the bullying came from kids her own age – she was hit by a girl. The majority of this story is either false (no history of moving, no one-off flash incident and so on) that it can’t really be used as a basis for anything. Please feel free to ask about anything else.

SWhelper says:

I have read your comments. However, I have a slightly different perspective. Whether it be 19 or 30, both under the eyes of the law is of adult age. She was 13/14 years old. One picture or 1,000 pictures, how does it alleviate one’s actions from spreading said photo or pictures? Because no charges were filed, does it mean in your view no wrong was committed?

Philip Rose says:

Also the story of a one-off flash is wrong. There were tons of videos put out by her. Photos are available all over the internet. Most of the story is false. Please take time to research.

Philip Rose says:

Please – take care. The 30 year old DOES NOT exist. This is false information put out by Anonymous at the time and has, unfortunately, become part of the story. The person you think you are talking about is 19; and there are no charges linked to the case.

Health

Self Help Tips and Advice For Social Workers

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There is no denying the positive impact social workers have on hundreds of families and individuals throughout their career. They will tell you about the rewarding experiences they have helping others in need. Unfortunately, for every success, there is at least one case in which they could not help. Social workers see the best and the worst of society every day, and even the strongest among us can crack under the pressure. That is why self-care is so important. Being mindfully aware of your needs as well as the needs of those around you can keep you healthy and able to be there when you’re needed.

What is Self Care and How Can You Do It Every day?

Self-care is a practice that becomes a lifestyle. Understand and commit to the idea that it is not something you do once, it is something you do every day. The key is to be mindful and aware.

It is important to be mindful of where you are and what you are doing as you go about your day. Whether you are in a meeting or at the grocery store, notice how you are feeling in the moment. This can range from listening to your body and noticing your state of health to recognizing an emotional situation in your life.

Become aware of your breathing. When we are feeling stressed, emotional, or run down, we forget how to breathe. Our breath can become fast and shallow which deprives our bodies of the oxygen it needs. Pay attention to your breathing and focus on slowing it down. Allow the air to fill your abdomen, not just your lungs. You will find that mindful breathing exercises calms your thoughts, allows for greater clarity, and lessens your anxiety.

Now That You Are Aware, How Do You Improve?

It’s one thing to be mindful and aware of how you are feeling, but doing something about it is another matter. Improving your physical and emotional state requires some life changes as well.

Many social workers have the stress relieving habit of smoking or grabbing an unhealthy snack from the vending machine. It makes us feel like we’re taking a moment for ourselves. Instead of grabbing a cigarette or a bag of chips, try an e-cigarette starter kit or grab a granola bar. This gives you a moment away while making healthier choices through controlling the nicotine and sugar you intake. The idea is not to deprive yourself but to make small changes that will make you feel better over time.

Changing the way you approach daily tasks is another life change that will give you some added peace of mind. For decades we have been taught to multitask but all we’ve learned is how to start tasks but not finish them in a timely manner. By focusing on one task at a time you’ll allow yourself to finish a job before moving onto something else. This creates a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence at the job you are doing.

Maintaining Your New Found Awareness

Creating a support system is important when attempting to care for yourself. By relying on your friends and family you are willingly accepting love and nurturing that you simply cannot give to yourself. When meditating on an issue in your life doesn’t result in answers, one of the best things we can do is turn to our support system for help. It’s not necessary to face every challenge alone and often times, they can see from a perspective that you cannot. You may also find that the more willing you are to receive care from others, the easier it becomes for you to provide care for the people you’re working to help.

Self-care is difficult for those who spend their lives taking care of others. By allowing yourself the care you need you will find that it not only feeds your soul but it will improve your ability to care for the people around you.

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Mental Health

National Survey Reveals the Scope of Behavioral Health Across the Nation

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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report provides the latest estimates on substance use and mental health in the nation, including the misuse of opioids across the nation. Opioids include heroin use and pain reliever misuse. In 2016, there were 11.8 million people aged 12 or older who misused opioids in the past year and the majority of that use is pain reliever misuse rather than heroin use—there were 11.5 million pain reliever misusers and 948,000 heroin users.

“Gathering, analyzing, and sharing data is one of the key roles the federal government can play in addressing two of the Department of Health and Human Services’ top clinical priorities: serious mental illness and the opioid crisis,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “This year’s survey underscores the challenges we face on both fronts and why the Trump Administration is committed to empowering those on the frontlines of the battle against substance abuse and mental illness.”

Nationally, nearly a quarter (21.1percent) of persons 12 years or older with an opioid use disorder received treatment for their illicit drug use at a specialty facility in the past year. Receipt of treatment for illicit drug use at a specialty facility was higher among people with a heroin use disorder (37.5 percent) than among those with a prescription pain reliever use disorder (17.5 percent).

The report also reveals that in 2016 while adolescents have stable levels of the initiation of marijuana, adults aged 18 to 25 have higher rates of initiation compared to 2002-2008, but the rates have been stable since 2008. In contrast, adults aged 26 and older have higher rates of marijuana initiation than prior years. In 2016, an estimated 21.0 million people aged 12 or older needed substance use treatment and of these 21.0 million people, about 2.2 million people received substance use treatment at a specialty facility in the past year.

Rates of serious mental illness among age groups 26 and older have remained constant since 2008. However, the prevalence of serious mental illness, depression and suicidal thoughts has increased among young adults over recent years. Among adults aged 18 or older who had serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year, the percentage receiving treatment for mental health services in 2016 (64.8 percent) was similar to the estimates in all previous years.

“Although progress has been made in some areas, especially among young people, there are many challenges we need to meet in addressing the behavioral health issues facing our nation,” said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. “Fortunately there is effective action being taken by the Administration and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with initiatives to reduce prescription opioid and heroin related overdose, death, and dependence as well as many evidence-based early intervention programs to increase access to treatment and recovery for people with serious mental illness. We need to do everything possible to assure that those in need of treatment and recovery services can access them and we look forward to continuing work with federal and state partners on this goal.”

“Addiction does not have to be a death sentence – recovery is possible for most people when the right services and supports in place, including treatment, housing, employment, and peer recovery support,” said Richard Baum, Acting Director Office of National Drug Control Policy. “The truth is that there’s no one path to recovery because everyone is different. And frankly, it doesn’t matter how someone gets to recovery.  It just matters that they have every tool available to them, including peer recovery support and evidence-based treatment options like medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction.”

NSDUH is a scientific annual survey of approximately 67,500 people throughout the country, aged 12 and older.  NSDUH is a primary source of information on the scope and nature of many substance use and mental health issues affecting the nation.

SAMHSA is issuing its 2016 NSDUH report on key substance use and mental health indicators as part of the 28th annual observance of National Recovery Month which began on September 1st. Recovery Month expands public awareness that behavioral health is essential to health, prevention works, treatment for substance use and mental disorders is effective, and people can and do recover from these disorders.

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Mental Health

Anxiety in Children: How Can You Help?

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Mental health issues amongst children are becoming more and more common, and this is a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If you’re a parent or caregiver, it’s a good idea to become familiar with signs of mental ill-health, and think about how you might be able to help.

The first step is to recognize the symptoms. While small experiences of anxiety are a natural part of life, it’s important to recognize when it’s becoming more prevalent, and when it’s having a negative impact on a child. Symptoms might include an irrational and ongoing sense of worry, an inability to relax, general uneasiness and irritability, as well as difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating or sudden, unprovoked feelings of panic. Anxiety and depression are not always obvious in children and symptoms can vary significantly depending on the child. Because of this, it’s really important to involve professional medical help if you’re worried about someone in your care.

The second step is to work out if and how to talk about it. Simply letting them know you care can make a big difference. You might like to share a story about times you’ve experienced anxiety. This can be an avenue into a discussion around anxiety, and can provide an opportunity to ask if they have similar worries.

If you’re going to try to help a child with anxiety, there are a few key things to avoid as they can end up being accidentally unhelpful. Avoid phrases like ‘just relax’, or ‘calm down’ as they can escalate the feelings of anxiety and make the child feel like they are doing something wrong. Also consider and be aware of situations that might exacerbate your child’s anxiousness, for example being in loud, crowded places could evoke feelings of uneasiness or panic. It’s important that you can find the balance between understanding and supporting what your child might be going through and acting as a self-assigned counsellor – don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need to.

The next thing you can think about is how to empower your child to deal with particular triggers. For example, if your child is feeling anxious about a certain event – an exam, public speaking at school, or an upcoming sports game, you may be able to talk with them about whether you can help them to practice or prepare in a way that they might find helpful.

Perhaps practicing a speech in front of you could help them to pinpoint what it is about the experience that’s making them feel anxious. You can’t promise that they’ll ace their presentation or win their sports day, but you can help them practice what they’re concerned about and provide them with tools to manage the anxiety they may feel in these situations. You don’t want to create further anxiety-inducing situations though, so make sure your child is happy to try this out, and mix it up with fun activities too. Revisiting things that they are familiar with and good at can help to develop a sense of capability and foster self-esteem.

When dealing with anxiety, this three-step breathing exercise can be used as a tool to interrupt anxiety as it builds, and it is something you can practice together.

  • Step 1: When you feel tension and anxiety building, stop and close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath in through your nose for 6 seconds.
  • Step 2: Hold it for 2 seconds, then slowly breathe out through your mouth for 4 seconds.
  • Step 3: Repeat this as many times as necessary, gently bringing your focus back to the breath.

If you’re worried about your child, or someone close to you, it’s important to get the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. Anxiety and depression are illnesses that often benefit from a range of treatment options, and often professional support is key to management and recovery.

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