On Friday, people across Canada are gathering in memory of Vancouver All-Stars cheerleader Amanda Todd, who took her own life last week after being the victim of online stalking and cyber-bullying for several years. (Before her death, she made this YouTube video to tell her story—warning: video includes graphic images.)
These vigils speak not only to the tragic loss of a 15-year-old, but also to a bigger issue at hand—both in society at large and our industry. Bullying has hit an all-time high, with one out of every four children being bullied and almost half of all children being bullied in some form online. So here’s the question: what can we do as cheer professionals to protect our athletes and make sure the deaths of cheerleaders like Amanda Todd, Peter Blake McCullers, Jeffrey Fehr and others are not in vain?
Here are some ways you can start:
**Sign this petition from Cheer for a Cause to pass H.R. 975, the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Act, which makes it easier for parents and schools to report and act on incidences of bullying and harassment.
**Make a statement. Follow in the steps of the University of Louisville, which posted this photo on Twitter this week to speak out against bullying, or CheerFactor All-Stars and Phoenix All-Stars, both programs which are spearheading anti-bullying campaigns.
**Contact us at CheerProfessional or leave a comment if you’ve dealt with bullying in your gym or want to share ideas for anti-bullying initiatives. We’ll be covering this issue in our Winter 2013 publication and want to hear from you.