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Wasaga Beach takes stand against cyberbullying with powerful presentation

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Warning: Some readers may find details in this article triggering or upsetting.

The Town of Wasaga Beach is taking a stand against cyberbullying by declaring Online Safety and Wellness Week this week with powerful presentations by a mother whose daughter made international news after taking her own life in 2012.

Carol Todd, the mother of Amanda Todd, who tragically committed suicide at 15 after being exploited and bullied, has spent the last decade focusing on online safety and exploitation awareness.

In a constantly evolving digital world, Todd said kids might often be more tech-savvy than their parents, and through her presentations geared toward the age-appropriate audience, she emphasizes the need for repetitive open dialogues between parents and kids.

She says her experience taught her that many parents still believe online exploitation could never happen to their child or that talking to them about it once is enough.

"I never thought it would happen in my family, and I had those conversations with my daughter," Todd says.

The Town teamed up with the Simcoe County District School Board for five presentations to educate elementary students at Worsley and Birchview Dunes schools and Grade 9 and 10 students at Collingwood Collegiate Institute.

The initiative was spearheaded by the Town's deputy mayor, Tanya Snell, who is also a mother to a teenage daughter.

Snell says the issue of online safety became even more crucial since the pandemic when social distancing created a reliance among many people, especially young people, on digital communication.

"Some really struggle with personal face-to-face connection," Snell says. "They now feel more comfortable communicating online or digitally, and that's scary."

To help facilitate these conversations, the Town is hosting a rare, raw and unfiltered panel discussion on online exploitation prevention and youth mental health and wellness, featuring Carol Todd, mental health experts, and the Ontario Provincial Police on Wednesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event is open to anyone 18 and older and will take place at the RecPlex on Mosley Street.

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