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Cyberbullying on social networks spawning form of self-harm

07.08.2013 10:52

Charities warn of vulnerable youngsters encountering pernicious abuse online but unable to cease using sites.    
Some vulnerable children on social networks plagued by cyberbullying are using the sites as a form of self-harm, charities warned on Tuesday, after a 14-year-old girl killed herself after being bullied online.
Calls for the website ask.fm to be closed down have intensified, after it was revealed that 14-year-old Hannah Smith, who lived in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, took her life on Friday after being cyberbullied on the question-and-answer site.
The ask.fm site allows users to send messages without identifying themselves. Anonymous messengers taunted Hannah about her weight, and the death of an uncle, and urged her to hurt herself.
At least five teenagers have killed themselves in the past year after experiencing abuse on the site. In a statement ask.fm said Hannah's death was a "true tragedy" and it would help police. It encouraged reporting of bullying.
Charities warned that some children are unable to stop using such sites even if they know they are going to be bullied.
Scott Freeman, founder of The Cybersmile Foundation, said: "It's very easy to get carried away in this circle of online self-abuse when you're alone in your room. [Children] check it, and keep checking, and it evolves into a kind of self-harm.
"We've seen instances where people have actually lined themselves up for abuse, posting a question like "do you think I'm pretty?" knowing that they'll get torn apart. What we're dealing with now is a completely new concept. It's the hate that's resonating through all of our social media coming through to our youth."

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/06/cyberbullying-social-networks-self-harm