Protecting Our Teens From Cyber-bullying!

I am angry, I am sad, I am the mother of two teenage girls!

Cyber bullies are the biggest cowards, they hide behind their computer screens and torment others. They are gutless theives of precious life, and if they were face to face with their target would probably not have the nerve to say what they do.

When is this ever going to stop?

The following is taken directly from Gammon & Chips as this tells it like it is!

In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying!

Last week, our dear family friend, a 14-year-old schoolgirl called Izzy Dix, died. It appeared that she’d taken her own life. And this action seemed to be linked to bullying, both at school and online.

I know that Izzy had been bullied. She had discussed it in depth with her mum, Gabbi. Izzy and her mum had the closest, strongest and most natural mother/daughter bond I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. They had come up with strategies to try to beat the bullying together, her mum had contacted the school on many occasions, and Izzy herself had spoken to her teachers.

Izzy was an incredibly bright student. She was caring, very funny, beautiful and wise beyond her years. Gabbi is understandably utterly devastated and broken by what has occurred, as are all of us who loved her.

A lot of the bullying that Izzy was so troubled over occurred on a social media website called Ask.fm.

If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a Latvian-based question and answer site with over 70 million registered users worldwide, the majority of whom are teenagers. It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used to communicate abusive, bullying and sexualised content. It’s this anonymity and lack of accountability and traceability that makes it really dangerous.

I’ve spoken with Gabbi and she’s told me about a particular game that is encouraged on Ask.fm, and photo-based networks like Snapchat, called ‘Body Part For Body Part’ – where anonymous people urge others to post naked photos of themselves online. Izzy never joined in. She was really passionate about women’s rights and Gabbi has told me the fact that this particular game existed and was so prolific really bothered and affected her.

Ask.fm has already been linked to the suicides of nine young people in less than a year, with Izzy’s name tragically bringing that number to ten.

Following the Ask.fm related suicide of 14-year-old, Hannah Smith, on 2nd August this year, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, called the site ‘vile’ and told the website it needed to ‘clean up its act’. Ask.fm responded by saying it would enact various small measures on the site. All in all, a move in the right direction, but this didn’t go nearly far enough.

561113 182796345189207 1111077896 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

So we are lobbying for the complete closure of Ask.fm before any more names of teens are added to that list.

At the very least, we need to permanently disable the ability to remain anonymous on this site, as this is the aspect which is causing the most damage.

The government also needs to bring in new regulations that will keep people, and young people in particular, safe on the Internet.

We need watertight procedures making social networking sites accountable for revealing the identities of trolls and cyberbullies to the authorities, so cyberbullying can easily be stopped in its tracks.

36531 631371003551843 1480931815 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

We need police forces to take bullying seriously.

We need education programmes for schools and community groups so we can teach the power of love and kindness.

And we need support programmes for both victims and bullies.

In my opinion, Izzy is a casualty of a changed world and a society that hasn’t yet caught up.

There are 3 things you can do to help us:

  1. Urge your teens to delete their Ask.fm accounts as a mark of respect, as well as for their own safety and wellbeing. If they don’t have one yet, ban it in your household.
  2. Sign this petition and help us to lobby the government on the dangers of Ask.fm – once we get 100,000 signatures, it can get presented to the UK House of Commons.
  3. Spread this message via social media and beyond, in whatever way you can. Share on Facebook. Tweet and Retweet on Twitter. Write to your MP. Talk about it with your family and friends. Just don’t be silent.

Beyond our campaign, there are things you can do as parents too. If your children are old enough, talk to them about cyberbullying. Sit them down. Explain to them what it is, why it happens, and how they can report it. Monitor what your children are doing online. You wouldn’t let them walk down a dark dangerous street alone, so take this analogy and relate it to your children’s Internet usage. Tell them that you love them. Not once, but several times a day. Because you can never, ever, give a child too much love.

If you suspect that your children may be involved in bullying others, then you need to talk to them too. There are charities like ChildLine, The Samaritans, Beat Bullying, and The Talk Easy Trust that can help.

And when it comes to a response to bullying, we need to educate our kids to turn the other cheek, rather than become bullies themselves. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We all need to rise above this, take our hurt, anger and passion and use it to rally together for real societal change.

Izzy Dix – We love you to the moon and back. If only you could see how very much we all miss you. We will change things for the better in your name and you will never be forgotten. The world has been so privileged to have had you in it. We will all make you so proud. Rest in peace gorgeous girl.”

535866 10153131327400297 859767719 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

Izzy Dix. RIP

One of my daughters is 14! This scares me beyond belief.

If you have teenage children, share this with them, find out if Ask.fm is a place they hang out.

Please sign the petition and let’s protect our gorgeous young children. I realise this is currently an Australian based petition, but it does affect children around the globe. Please feel free to use the postcode 4000 (Brisbane, Australia) so that you can enter.

We can only educate and be open with out children, ultimately we can not control every minute of their day.

They are worth it, I know mine sure are!

Has your child been a victim of bullying?

 

Sharing today for #IBOT with Essentially Jess

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martine@themodernparent
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 07:23:50

    I agree that sites like this rarely produce any positive interactions and unfortunately sometimes the consequences are devastating. What is required more than anything comes back to education about how to safely use any site. Whilst shutting down ask.fm may seem like a necessity, unfortunately the kids who are keen for this interaction will go elsewhere. I know kids who were banned from ask.fm so they moved on to qooh.me which is essentially the same. There will always be another site waiting in the wings to take over. I do however agree that there are many facets to tackling bullies, including making these sites more accountable, clearer procedures for authorities on dealing with reporting, teaching empathy early, connecting with kids, encouraging interests and positive connections away from the screens etc Ultimately we need to keep educating parents as to what our children are dealing with online and whilst as you say, we will never have the ability to monitor their every move, we need to keep the teaching, guiding and support going throughout adolescence so they have the skills to deal with whatever they find online. Such a tragic tragic loss. Thankyou for helping to get the message out to all parents and their children.

    Reply

  2. Eleise
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 10:53:52

    Unfortunately although we have seen the bullying and discussed deleting the ASK FM account it was not done. I don’t want to push the issue because I don’t want the kids to start hiding stuff. I have signed the petition, I really worry about our kids.

    Reply

  3. Mamagoingsolo
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 11:24:39

    This sort of thing terrifies me and if even a wise and proactive girl like that can be beaten down by bullying, then what hope do the less confident girls have? Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  4. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 11:26:18

    Sites like ask.fm are scum and there are so many of them. It scares me to death too. We have 4 girls 15, 13, 8 & 5. With the older two we try and discuss social media and cyberbullying regularly and keeping communication open is important. I totally agree sites like these should be shut down and more done about this. There must be.

    Reply

  5. Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 15:57:46

    I am so glad that the internet was just a baby when I was a teenager and there weren’t things like this online. I am terrified of what things will be around when my girls are teenagers, its so scary. Thanks for linking to the petition, I will definitely be signing.

    #teamIBOT was here!

    Reply

  6. Deb @ Home life simplified
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 22:08:30

    Thank you for sharing this – my girls are 8 1/2 and 10 and i am terrified of what lies ahead for them. I am so grateful my time was pre-social media and the internet. it was bad enough being talked about at school without having a global playground to deal with. i am so sorry to hear about these deaths – off to sign the petition

    Reply

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