Anti-bullying campaign to close websitegathers pace
Thousands have signed a petition calling for the closure of a controversial social media site containing posts from anonymous users which have been linked to ten suicides.
Friends, family and classmates of Izzy Dix launched the campaign to shut down Ask.fm after the tragic teenager was said to have taken her own life last month.
The 14-year old was particularly distressed by the unregulated Latvian site.
Messages of support have flooded into The Izzy Dix Anti Bullying Memorial Group Facebook page and a petition had yesterday reached 3,600.
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The wave of support came as anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label produced the largest ever survey revealing the shocking scale of the problem, which affects one in five youngsters on a daily basis.
Growing publicity has encouraged those who have suffered abuse to come forward and tell their stories.
Becky Owen, from Devon, was subjected to online bullying from the age of 14 on the website Bebo.
The 22-year-old described how her innocent exchanges of pictures with friends took a sinister turn. "I didn't realise my profile wasn't set to private and some girls from my school who bullied me in person decided to send me nasty messages and comment on my profile," she said.
Three years of torment followed, bringing on severe depression to the point where she self-harmed and tried to take her own life.
Becky says she set her profile to private, but bullies simply created fake profiles and continued with the abuse. "I want my story to be told because after all of that it has made me a stronger person, and to know that it's important to get help before it's too late," she added.
Another victim, a 17-year-old boy, from Callington, who did not wish to be named, told how he was hit right out of the blue with a welter of abuse on Ask.fm after he split up with a girlfriend. He said complete strangers posted comments saying he had "mistreated" the girl, something he says was completely untrue.
The survey of more than 10,000 young people revealed that 69% have been victims, much more than previously reported. The campaign group is calling for Government-led action to keep young people safe on the internet. David Cameron has described the abuse meted out to youngsters as "vile". The online petition, which can be found at website Change.org, is addressed to the Prime Minister and Devizes MP, Claire Perry, Government adviser on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood.