Saturday, 25 January 2014

Change.org: Shut Down Cyberbullying Website, Ask.Fm, In Memory Of Izzy Dix & 13 Other Teens Globally

The following petition was sent to me from Change.org and I thought I'd circulate it. Please feel free to pass this on and encourage other people to sign;

"For a period of almost two years, my 14-year-old daughter, Izzy, was bullied. She was tormented at school, in the local community and online via a website called Ask.fm. I was trying my best every day to help and support her through it. But on the evening of Tuesday 17th September last year, Izzy took her own life.

Izzy had been having a hard time settling into her school, so I agreed that when she turned 13 she could get a Facebook account – I thought it might help her to socialise. Then she asked to join a question and answer website called Ask.fm because “everyone at school was on it”. I’d never heard of it before, but it seemed like harmless fun to me, so I agreed.But it wasn’t harmless at all.

Izzy came to me because she began receiving abuse on her page. She showed me how it worked and I was horrified. It’s a website used predominantly by teenagers that allows users to post comments and remain anonymous. Because of this it has become a notorious platform for cyberbullies.

The nasty comments Izzy received could have been posted by complete strangers, kids at school, or even by grown adults – but we had no way of knowing for sure. She was asked overtly sexual questions and was encouraged to post naked photos online in a game called ‘Body Part for Body Part’. She didn’t and we deleted her account immediately.

But a part of Izzy's fragile self esteem had already been chipped away and she eventually took her own life. That’s why I’ve started a campaign urging David Cameron to help close down or place restrictions on the Ask.fm site.

Ask.fm is a Latvian-based website with over 70 million users. It has now been linked to the suicides of 13 teenagers around the world.ChildLine has recently announced an 87% increase in the number of kids seeking help over online bullying in the past year alone. Something needs to be done now.

Bullying is a complicated issue. While I’m not blaming Ask.fm directly for my daughter’s death, she was very distressed by the online harassment and on top of the bullying she was receiving at school, it certainly added to her deep upset.

I’m a single mum and Izzy was my only child. My old life has now gone forever and I’m struggling to make sense of my new one. This petition won’t bring Izzy back. But it will spread awareness about the potential dangers of Ask.fm to parents and teens and could save lives.

I urge you, in Izzy’s memory, to please sign it, share it, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Gabbi Dix"