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Carol Todd calls for police to take online harassment, sextortion seriously

OTTAWA — A mother whose teenage daughter died by suicide 10 years ago told MPs Monday that police need to take online harassment seriously and not shame victims into thinking they brought their torment on themselves.
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Carol Todd holds a photograph of her late daughter Amanda Todd while sitting on a bench dedicated to her at Settlers Park in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Sunday October 5, 2013. Todd says police need to take online harassment seriously and not shame victims into thinking they brought their torment on themselves.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA — A mother whose teenage daughter died by suicide 10 years ago told MPs Monday that police need to take online harassment seriously and not shame victims into thinking they brought their torment on themselves.

Carol Todd's 15-year-old daughter Amanda Todd died in 2012 a few weeks after she posted a video on the internet detailing how she was blackmailed by an online predator.

Aydin Coban is awaiting sentencing after being convicted in August of extortion, harassment, possession of child pornography and communicating with a young person to commit a sexual offence.

The Dutch national was extradited to Canada to face the charges here.

Carol Todd told the House of Commons status of women committee Monday that she sat through every day of the nine-week trial.

"I was determined as her mom to be there to listen to what the jury was listening to," she said.

"And one of the gaps that I found was some of the preventive things that law enforcement could provide in terms of taking a crime seriously. Making sure that it's investigated, not victim shaming and not making my daughter feel that she was responsible and not making her parents feel like they were at fault."

Todd said the country has learned a lot since Amanda's death about what dangers lurk on the internet, in part because of her daughter's case. But she said there is much more education to be done, for students, for parents and for teachers.

She wants more resources to put together a curriculum teachers can use, and she also wants the government to re-examine its legislation against cyberbullying.

That bill, which received royal assent in 2014, made it a crime to share intimate images without consent, and to clarify that Criminal Code offences, such as harassment, can also be committed online.

Todd said better definitions are needed of online exploitation and cyberbullying, and police need to understand what harassment really means.

"You can't get a police officer to investigate unless that harassment has a death threat in it," she said. "We need to really define and look at what it really means."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 3, 2022.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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