Kids Using Ask.fm To Send Hateful Messages
(WREG-TV) You know about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Now there’s a new social media site kids are using.
It’s called ask.fm, and it’s growing in popularity here in the Mid-South.
Kids are using it to bully each other; in some places, even to death.
The site lets you post anonymously and say anything to anyone on it.
“Someone has told me to kill myself and I didn’t know who they were,” Ava Bourg said.
Ava just turned 12 years old.
“They will leave comments that I’m overweight and I should starve myself,” she said.
She already knows the dangers of cyberbullying.
“It definitely brought my self esteem down and made me feel like I wasn’t as good as I could be,” she said.
She used to have an ask.fm account, until her self-described “hyper vigilant” mother found a link to it on her Instagram page.
“I clicked on it and mainly it was people asking how do you do your hair, how do you put your makeup on, and in between were inappropriately talking about show me your boobs,” Annie Tennyson said.
“She said this isn’t meant for kids your age if you’re getting those type of questions,” Ava said.
So Ava got rid of her account, but most of the students at her middle school are on it, saying hateful things to one another.
“‘You’re so annoying, no one really likes you,’” she said someone wrote on her friend’s page. “Someone said ‘slut’ like ten times to her.”
While it’s wildly popular with kids, most adults have never heard of it.
That includes Shelby County Schools Manager of Student Behavior Dr. Randy McPherson.
“Every time that we think we have identified where potential problems could be, another one that comes up,” he said.
Scrolling down the pages of ask.fm, he spotted obvious concerns.
“There’s no filtering or monitoring by the website’s owners are all,” he pointed out.
He says students reported 2,100 incidents of bullying in Shelby County Schools last year.
There’s no way of knowing how much of it was online.
“It all occurs outside the school. Very little that happens inside school,” he said.
So the school district is hosting anti-bullying events to share the dangers with kids.
But McPherson says parents have responsibility too.
“Parents sometimes are a little too concerned about privacy of your children, and we need to remember they are children. We need to monitor how they use technology,” he said.
That’s because it’s not just the victims who can be affected.
The bully can be jailed.
The Tipton County Sherriff’s Office says the number of reported cyberbullying cases is on the rise.
“Obviously we respect freedom of speech, but you go above freedom of speech when you make a threat which is a violation of the criminal code,” Chief Donna Turner said.
The District Attorney even prosecuted some kids for harassment.
“Anything electronically sent that is any time of threat is a crime of harassment and they can be petitioned in juvenile court,” she said.
So whether your child is the bully or the victim, Ava’s mom says get involved.
“I’m not going to lose my daughter,” she said.
If you are being bullied, Ava has this message for you:
“Stay strong. They are going to be mean because their kids and you’ll get over because it’s just a few words left on your profile.”
Sadly, nine teenagers connected to ask.fm have committed suicide after receiving hateful anonymous messages on the site.