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was 14 years old! When a young offender | helped. My teachers put me in an accelerated winds up in the news, his name stays under program. I didn't have time to wallow in self- wraps. No photographs are printed or broad- pity. You have to learn how to overcome cast, by law, because that person is a minor. obstacles and keep going. You may only inch That's because he may have made a mistake, forward, but it's important to keep moving but his life is just getting started. Why didn't ahead. The next year, I was ready to get the same protection? mal life again. I switched schools. Q: Did you consider cashing in? Q: Before debuting on YouTube in 2006, the A: Every single talk show in North America original video had millions of Internet hits. wanted me as a guest. I still have Jay Leno's Have you considered asking for financial invitation. A Japanese show offered me a lot compensation? of money. But why were they inviting me? A: No. That's part of letting it go. Do I think They wanted to turn me into a circus act. it's fair that people are making money • Having your 15 minutes of fame, when you've my video? No. But you have to learn to done something truly worthwhile, is one the page. thing. When you earn it for something humili- Q: Several high profile cases of cyberbullying ating, that's entirely different. People were have occurred in the last few years. Has society making fun of me, of my appearance. The learned from them? video is, what, two minutes long? A billion A: If what happened to me in 2003 were to people drew conclusions about me from that happen again today, I can't help but hope that video. It's not something that you want to be things associated with. Definitely • different. For instance, I hope when you're that school authorities would be there to help me through it. My parents had to turn to the 'STUDENTS CLIMBED ONTO private sector to find services that my school should have offered. I think that, today, schools TABLETOPS TO INSULT ME. PEOPLE feel more responsibility for what happens on MADE FUN OF MY PHYSICAL the web. Bill 56, which deals with school bully- strong signal in this regard. APPEARANCE AND MY WEIGHT: ing, has sent a Students need to ask themselves, "Would you say to someone's face what you're writing on All grown up: Overcome your shame and ge the Internet? Would you say it in public?" help. Raza tells young victims of cyberbullying Schools should offer a class on bullying. my exams, so I wouldn't fail. I did the exams Q: What message do you have for young vic- tims of cyberbullying? in a high school affiliated with the psychiatric A: First of all, you'll survive. You'll get through unit of a hospital because it was the only quiet it. And you're not alone. You are surrounded place we could find. That is what started the rumours about me being sent to a psychiatric by people who lave you. You have to overcome ward. Afterwards, we wanted to know: could your shame and get help. If you're lucky enough to have parents who are there for you, speak we sue the media to force them to stop show- with them. If not, look for help at school, ing the video? What about suing the school, among your teachers or your friends. In my which had failed in its responsibility to protect 14 or 15 and trying to build your identity. No case, I wasn't exactly Mr. Popularity. I didn't me? We settled on the idea that, by suing the matter how hard I tried to ignore people tell-| have 350 friends. During the chaos, I os the few uploaded the video, we'd se ing me to commit suicide, I couldn't help but my ›arents strong message. edi worthless, like my life wasn't worth liv- had no one l lawyers. But their presence y Q: Many people on the internet didn't agree ing. I never tried to commit suicide, but it rial; they helped me to survive the hurricane. with you. was a very dark period for me. Without them, I'd have been swept away. A: The media's story was that we were greedy. Q: During one online movement, 140,000 Q: Looking back, would you do anything Sone said publicly that the people being sued people signed a petition asking George Lucas, differently? were the real victims. They reversed our roles. the man behind Star Wars, to cast you in an A: I'm at peace with all of the decisions that It was crazy! I can't reveal the figures of the upcoming episode of the series. People even were made. Would I change the past, if I but none of us got ri didn't collected donations for you. could? No. I woukdn't change a thing, because en cover our expenses. The point was to send A: I got an iPod, some video games and : today I'm happy with who I am. Through it a message that the media would understand. few Star Wars collectibles. I know that the all, I met good people. opened myself to Q: Which was what? people who sent me gifts had good inten- new ideas. I learned a lot about myself. I'm A: That people should behave more respon- tions, but they were only drops in the ocean the product of good and bad experiences. sibly. In one case, a Quebec television chan- of contempt that I faced. Obviously, if you were to tell me that it would nel looped the video while guests commented Q: When did your life feel normal again? happen again, I wouldn't greet the news with on it. They gave my last name, my first name, A: I had a private tutor for my fourth year of overwhelming joy and happiness. But I my hometown a the name of my school. high school. Being outside of school really | wouldn't look for ways to avoid it.* MACLEAN'S MAGAZINE 29

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