Archive for Abusive Messages

Website Causes Another Tragic Teen Death

Posted in America, Britain, Child Discipline, Children, England, Mobile Phone, Parenting, Teens, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 06/08/2013 by floroy1942
Bullied To Death At 14

Bullied To Death At 14

I was appalled today to read of yet another teenager who committed suicide because of abusive messages received over a teen chat website. What is it about today’s teenagers that makes them send cruel, heartless hate messages to others over the internet? It seems that bullying has reached new depths of depravity and hate that it is now driving young people to such depths of despair that it forces them to  take their own lives.

I refer to the case of 14 year-old Hannah Smith who was hounded to death through the website Ask.fm until in sheer desperation she hung herself in her parents home. According to reports, she was hounded for weeks prior to her death with messages urging her to kill herself. As you would expect, all the messages were anonymous and consisted of things like:  “u ugly **** go die evry1 wuld (sic) be happy.” –  “do us all a favour n kill ur self”. – “drink bleach” – “go get cancer” and “go die”.

Bullied To Death

Bullied To Death

There is no doubt that the internet can be a minefield for young children and teenagers who have not been properly schooled in  its use, and that goes for mobile phones too. Hannah is not the only one to have taken such drastic action to escape the anonymous hate of others on this particular website. A year ago  Irish teenagers Ciara Pugsley, 15, from Leitrim and Erin Gallagher, 13, from Donegal both took their own lives after being subjected to on-line bullying, and in April this year 15-year-old Josh Unsworth from Lancashire was found hanged in his parents’ garden. He had endured months of cyber-bullying on the website.

The website carrying these messages, Ask.fm which is Latvian-based, said in their Press release, “We are committed to ensuring that Ask.fm remains a safe, fun environment, and we have policies in place that empower our users to protect themselves and to invite our intervention when required. For example, all users can switch off anonymous questions in their privacy settings; and if they do receive a question that they don’t like or find offensive, they can block the user and decide to report the incident. All reports are read by our team of moderators to ensure that genuine concerns are heard and acted upon immediately. Ask.fm is fully compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.” I must admit that if I were running the company, I would make it impossible to send anonymous messages.

Cyber-Bullying Statistics

Cyber-Bullying Statistics

It does seem that the website has the standard safeguards in place but it is clearly not enough, for the question remains, why didn’t Hannah turn off anonymous comments or block offensive users? I guess it could  be morbid curiosity as to what the writer would say next, but it is more likely to be that teenagers today are just not mentally equipped to handle situations like this. In this I feel that parents bear a lot of responsibility for not preparing their child on how to handle such things. Mind you, to be fair, in many cases the children do not tell their parents of such things. I must say though, that if my two children were teens today I would warn them of such things before they even started with the internet.

A Typical Example OF Cyber-Bullying

A Typical Example OF Cyber-Bullying

It is estimated that more than 50% of children today are subjected to bullying of one form or another, and with the proliferation of teen chat websites like Ask.fm there is much more opportunity to those who feel the need the bully others.

Experts say that parents should look for certain signs in their children’s behaviour like suddenly becoming withdrawn, not wanting to go to school, or when a child or teenager who normally gets good grades in exams suddenly starts failing them. Even simple things like a lack of appetite or having trouble sleeping can be warning signs for parents that their child is having mental problems. The thing to do then is sit them down and talk about it. Sometimes it is necessary to press them a little to get the answers you want, for it is natural for many teens not to want to talk about such things as bullying, be it at school or via the computer or phone.

In this short film it is amazing how many people move away because they do not want to be involved. A terrible symptom of our modern society.

Physical Bullying In School

Physical Bullying In School

With the number of suicides constantly on the rise, I feel that it is time for legislative action by governments who must pass laws applicable to all social internet sites that make the ability to send anonymous messages against the law, and that every message is traceable back to its source. But it does not end there, for parents must also carry their share of the load by properly supervising a child’s internet usage and ensure they know what the password is so they can check intermittently what is being passed back and forth. By doing so they may discover early enough if their child is being bullied, or in fact if the child is him/herself a bully.

To be bullied, either at school or over the internet can be a traumatic experience for those in our society who are least equipped to deal with it, and that is why parents should remain aware at all times.

Roy.

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