Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Is this the answer to Cyber Bullying?

I don't think so.

Once again a disraught parent turns to legislation to solve a human communication problem. In this case the problem is Facebook related but to mind one has to look further back and examine what kind of communication is happening within our families. I cannot believe that this kind of bullying isn't happening here in Ulverston if immature (meaning humans that haven't yet developed a high self-esteem that can weather this type of mental onslaught) children and adults for that matter are over reliant on the new types of communication that have become available. We have evolved with very well developped ways of relating to each other through face-to-face eye-to-eye which reads 'body language and facial expression :ways of developing close friendships - ways of developing trust that acts to soak up misunderstanding. Two-way instantaneous messaging between two humans - that starts with a smile - or a scowl.

Any family that allows their children to communicate with others alone - often complete strangers - is asking for trouble. In my experience even relating to other adults in another age group is fraught with problems - which is why I avoid Facebook, email etc unless it is part of a comprehensive and frequent face to face chat.

Here is the letter:

Geoff -

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 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 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 site. 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 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 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

Sign the Petition


Thomas Johns said...

Just another (unfortunate) consequence of the way we mollycoddle and spoil kids these days. Modern parents/schools go to extremes to protect kids from the reality of everyday life that when these kids come face to face with even a mild degree of unpleasantness or aggression it seems their whole world falls apart. They can't cope with harsh reality and suicides etc are the result. Think back and be honest - do you recall any of your peers
at school killing themselves - for ANY "reason"? No neither do I. If I was bullied I belted the bully or told my dad who went to school and densured the culprit was suitably punished. Today that "punishment" might amount to a bit of counselling. I draw comparison with what my nephew tells me. he is a Probation officer in Birmingham and more and more realises that his clients are taking the piss. In their view a weekly trip to the office for a chat tells them they have got away with their misdemeanours and so it goes with bullying pupils. I so despair of this country where appropriate punishment is absent, where consequences are non-existent, where feather bedding is the norm - and look at the tragic results.

Geoff Dellow said...

Thanks Thomas for your thoughtful comments.
Yes I agree that adults - not just children - often can't cope with interactions with other people. "Having it out" in an honest way, is often seen as unacceptable. Surely if we throw everything we've got at each other in a convincing way then there's a chance of 'clearing the air' and then getting back to better relationships. Going into hiding breeds resentment, misunderstandings and brooding that can build up into extreme views. I used to love flat out fights where I stuck up for myself - sometimes these led to strong friendships. When I think of my friends, they are for the most part people you wouldn't want to have a scrap with, people who have learnt how to face up to others in a way that avoids a severe confrontation - but the ability to take care of themselves if need be is there deep inside their character.

Coping with anonymous attacks is common on this blog. I'd love to meet these people face to face - I suspect they would turn out to be whimps. Perhaps parents need to develop stronger relationships with their children and explain, possibly by example, to their children how it's done.