In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

535866 10153131327400297 859767719 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

Izzy Dix. RIP

Please sign the PETITION HERE!

Last week, our dear family friend, a 14-year-old schoolgirl called Izzy Dix, died. It appeared that she’d taken her own life. And this action seemed to be linked to bullying, both at school and online.

I know that Izzy had been bullied. She had discussed it in depth with her mum, Gabbi. Izzy and her mum had the closest, strongest and most natural mother/daughter bond I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. They had come up with strategies to try to beat the bullying together, her mum had contacted the school on many occasions, and Izzy herself had spoken to her teachers.

Izzy was an incredibly bright student. She was caring, very funny, beautiful and wise beyond her years. Gabbi is understandably utterly devastated and broken by what has occurred, as are all of us who loved her.

A lot of the bullying that Izzy was so troubled over occurred on a social media website called Ask.fm.

If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s a Latvian-based question and answer site with over 70 million registered users worldwide, the majority of whom are teenagers. It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used to communicate abusive, bullying and sexualised content. It’s this anonymity and lack of accountability and traceability that makes it really dangerous.941740 1390999861114898 2012730016 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

I’ve spoken with Gabbi and she’s told me about a particular game that is encouraged on Ask.fm, and photo-based networks like Snapchat, called ‘Body Part For Body Part’ – where anonymous people urge others to post naked photos of themselves online. Izzy never joined in. She was really passionate about women’s rights and Gabbi has told me the fact that this particular game existed and was so prolific really bothered and affected her.

Ask.fm has already been linked to the suicides of nine young people in less than a year, with Izzy’s name tragically bringing that number to ten.

Following the Ask.fm related suicide of 14-year-old, Hannah Smith, on 2nd August this year, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, called the site ‘vile’ and told the website it needed to ‘clean up its act’. Ask.fm responded by saying it would enact various small measures on the site. All in all, a move in the right direction, but this didn’t go nearly far enough.

561113 182796345189207 1111077896 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

Shut down Ask.fm

So we are lobbying for the complete closure of Ask.fm before any more names of teens are added to that list.

At the very least, we need to permanently disable the ability to remain anonymous on this site, as this is the aspect which is causing the most damage.

The government also needs to bring in new regulations that will keep people, and young people in particular, safe on the Internet.

We need watertight procedures making social networking sites accountable for revealing the identities of trolls and cyberbullies to the authorities, so cyberbullying can easily be stopped in its tracks.

36531 631371003551843 1480931815 n 150x150 In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

We need education programmes in schools

We need police forces to take bullying seriously.

We need education programmes for schools and community groups so we can teach the power of love and kindness.

And we need support programmes for both victims and bullies.

In my opinion, Izzy is a casualty of a changed world and a society that hasn’t yet caught up.

There are 3 things you can do to help us:

  1. Urge your teens to delete their Ask.fm accounts as a mark of respect, as well as for their own safety and wellbeing. If they don’t have one yet, ban it in your household.
  2. Sign this petition and help us to lobby the government on the dangers of Ask.fm – once we get 100,000 signatures, it can get presented to the UK House of Commons.
  3. Spread this message via social media and beyond, in whatever way you can. Share on Facebook. Tweet and Retweet on Twitter. Write to your MP. Talk about it with your family and friends. Just don’t be silent.

Beyond our campaign, there are things you can do as parents too. If your children are old enough, talk to them about cyberbullying. Sit them down. Explain to them what it is, why it happens, and how they can report it. Monitor what your children are doing online. You wouldn’t let them walk down a dark dangerous street alone, so take this analogy and relate it to your children’s Internet usage. Tell them that you love them. Not once, but several times a day. Because you can never, ever, give a child too much love.

If you suspect that your children may be involved in bullying others, then you need to talk to them too. There are charities like ChildLine, The Samaritans, Beat Bullying, and The Talk Easy Trust that can help.

And when it comes to a response to bullying, we need to educate our kids to turn the other cheek, rather than become bullies themselves. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We all need to rise above this, take our hurt, anger and passion and use it to rally together for real societal change.

Izzy Dix – We love you to the moon and back. If only you could see how very much we all miss you. We will change things for the better in your name and you will never be forgotten. The world has been so privileged to have had you in it. We will all make you so proud. Rest in peace gorgeous girl.

55 thoughts on “In memory of Izzy Dix. Together, we must stop cyberbullying.

  1. Maddie this is so sad. I have signed the petition and I really hope that that awful website gets shut down before another child is a victim of its bullies.

    RIP Izzy

    Sam xx

  2. It’s heartbreaking isn’t it Sam. Thanks so much for your support. It really means a lot to me. There is power in numbers and we can all make a difference together. Thanks again so much. xoxo

  3. I know how awful you felt last week about this honey and this is such a well-written post. You are doing great things by highlighting this tragic situation. My heart goes out to Gabbi for her tragic lost of her beautiful daughter Izzy. I shall sign the petition and share this post xx

  4. I have signed the petition to remove ask.fm in the hope that it might save another victim from its vile bullies.

  5. I have signed the petition . I can’t believe this lovely young lady with all her life in front of her was made to feel so desperate that she took her own life . I nearly lost my daughter in a car crash but with the help of some incredible people’s help at Frenhey Hospital she is still Here with me today . I feel for Gabbi so much I just hope everyone’s support can help to ease the pain she must be feeling . This kind of bullying has to be stamped out I know this petition is going to be a huge step in the right direction . RIP little Izzy x

  6. Signed and shared Maddie xx This literally makes my whole being reel with disbelief. We live in a world now where we can’t even protect out kids anymore. It seriously scares me. Let’s hope this petition gets some weight behind it. Thinking of you all and RIP Izzy xx

    • Thanks so much Charlie. It’s so scary. I hope we can make a difference. Even if it is just making parents more aware of this site and the potential dangers, then that can only be a good thing. xoxo

  7. i agree this is a sad story and my condolences go out to the family of the girl that lost her life due to people harassing her, however to try to shut down the website in its all is quite ridiculous, i mean the same could be said about countless other anonymous websites such as chatroulette, omegle and 4chan where you can post anonymously. each are for the purpose of entertainment. And to render the anonymosity would defeat the purpose of the site which is to anonymously ask questions to people. it would be a stupid idea for a website if it was to just ask somebody questions. that could be done over text, facebook or any other means of communication. It was not the websites fault that other people caused the death of this poor little girl thus shouldn’t be the ones suffering consequences for the actions of cyber bullies or any bullying.

    • Hi JJ. Thanks for commenting. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to want to shut down a website, or at least ban its use for under 18s. The thing that is different about Ask.fm is that the large majority of its users are teenagers. From what I understand, the other sites are more adult – users of Chatroulette are mainly adult males. But yes, I definitely think that children should be restricted from using this site for their safety too, as well as Omegle. And 4chan has a self-regulated disclaimer stating not to enter if you’re a minor – really?!!! As if that’s really going to deter sexually inquisitive teenagers from bulletin board headings like ‘Hardcore’, ‘Sexy Beautiful Women’ or ‘Handsome Men’.

      I do think the website is a very large factor in this case. Not the only one, I agree, as the circumstances of bullying are never so cut and dry, but a large factor because anonymity allows people to say things to others they would never dream of saying to their face.

      If a non-anonymous social media site that just asks questions and answers to each other is a stupid idea, then why is Twitter so successful? It doesn’t even have a USP like the ‘Q&A’ theme. If Ask.fm already has 65/70 million registered users, then it will work regardless. In fact, disabling the anonymity feature would probably increase its membership base, as new teenagers would probably come on board who have been too scared to join before because they were expecting to be cyberbullied on there!

      Thanks again for commenting. I think it’s good that people are debating this issue.

  8. I noticed on the site, which I just joined now to see what it’s all about, that in the settings, it allows one to choose if they want to allow anonymous questions or not allow anonymous questions. Perhaps this is the minor change that they made. It is, in my opinion, a very easily accessible thing. Bottom line, there should be NO choice – it should ALL be disclosed.

    • Hi Heather, I think that feature has always existed, but my understanding is that it was really hidden away before. Ask.fm said they would make it more prominent in their latest set of changes, although I don’t know if this has happened yet or not. A step in the right direction I suppose, but I personally think having an option of anonymity is just asking for trouble. Thanks for commenting.

  9. In the spirit of friendly conversation, without meaning to come across as rude, I would like to ask, would closing askFM be in any way reasonable? I’m asking as I’m curious whether it shouldn’t simply be the parents responsibility to prevent their kids from using such websites. As an example, unfortunately people get bullied at school, and it leads some to take their life. Would this lead you to call for the closure of all schools? What I’m trying to say is that imposing restrictions on a company like this, or the forced closure of a company, would lead to unprecedented empowerment of the government, taking away more of our freedoms, and could lead to an unpredictable totalitarian future (I’m being extreme here). This brings to mind another example, many people reading this might have an iPhone, iPod, iPad or Mac computer, they are all produced and assembled in China by a company called Foxconn, there have been many reported suicides of Foxconn workers, would this lead you to the idea of closing their company? Therefore loosing Apple its production tool and pretty much ending their reign of the technological world (something that would have ramifications to the value of hundreds of billions of dollars). I would urge you to educate parents first on controlling their children, and on teaching the kids WHY bullying is bad (seems obvious, but there doesn’t seem to be that much happening on that front)

  10. In the UK, the suicide rate for people aged 15-19 is about 6 per 100,000 people according to statistics published by the Samaritans. This petition cites a figure of 10 suicides out of 70 million users of ask.fm.

    Multiplying that figure up, we should expect over 4000 teenagers linked to ask.fm to have committed suicide.

    I understand that you’re hurt and in pain, but finding a scapegoat is not going to solve the deeper problems.

    • Hi Geoff. Thanks for commenting. How can it be a scapegoat if it has been directly linked to the suicides of 10 young people already. That’s not a scapegoat. That’s a cause. Surely we should be trying to reduce the suicide rate however we can, rather than multiplying it up to suit mathematical formulas? We’re not saying that Ask.fm is the only cause of suicide in the UK, but it has been a major factor in the premature deaths of 10 young people. These are 10 young people who were once part of 10 families. They are real people loved by many – not statistics. If you read the petition, we are lobbying for change to more than just Ask.fm. We need the government to also look at current legislation, education programmes for schools and community groups, police investigation, victim support and parental education. But I for one would be very please to see the back of Ask.fm. I can’t see how the good a site like that can provide can possibly outweigh the negatives.

  11. Hi Bell. I do agree that these issues are so complicated that they need to be discussed, so thanks for commenting. I personally believe that preventing bullying is a multi-pronged approach, and so is our campaign. In addition to dealing with Ask.fm at the source, in our petition we also mention that this issue touches government legislation, the police force, education in schools and community groups, and support for victims, bullies and parents. Yes, I agree with you that it is a parent’s responsibility to prevent their kids from using such websites, but one of the things we’re trying to do with this campaign is to make parents aware of this website. Often teens are not very obedient, or even forthcoming with talking to their parents (this wasn’t the case with Izzy – she discussed all of this with her mum) so parents need to know about this website so they can bring it up with their kids.

    I, personally, would like the see the closure of Ask.fm as I believe it brings about more negative benefits to society than positive. I totally understand your concern about unprecedented empowerment of the government, and I have, in the past, always come down on the side of free speech, but I’ve changed my view on this now, because I believe that the government does need to intervene when it comes to the safety of minors.

    With your example of the Foxconn company, no, of course you wouldn’t close the company down, but you could get to the source of the problem by speaking with the Foxconn workers. Ask.fm is a very different fish. How do you get to the bottom of this problem on Ask.fm when the people who are doing the damage are anonymous? This is the really damaging thing about the site.

    We don’t actually have total free speech as such in the UK. Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights itself recognises the need for some limits on free expression. It provides that limits can only be imposed in order to achieve certain specified aims, and only insofar as is necessary to achieve those aims. The Convention lists several permitted reasons for limiting free speech, including national security, the protection of health or morals, and protection of peoples’ rights and reputations. Ask.fm covers at least 3 of these. While I do understand your concern, I wonder if it’s not now time to make a stand with regard to certain sites on the internet, especially where children are involved. Children can’t legally access pornography. Or alcohol. Maybe it’s time to put a government restriction on certain internet sites too? I think the thing about this topic is that it throws up as many questions as it does answers unfortunately.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting. I think it’s good that people are discussing this issue, because it means that people care about our society. Hopefully we’ll find the right solution!

  12. Hi – this is so so so sad and it’s literally brke my heart reading this. Please pass on all my love and thoughts to your friend and her family. I’ve shared this on as many forums as I can to help out. If ever I can do anything else to help, please ask. I’ll always help out when it comes to the bulling of our children xx

    • Thanks so much Cathie. I really appreciate your kind words and thanks so much for sharing. We just need to get as many people as possible to sign our petition, so that’s our main aim at the moment. It’s not just about closing Ask.fm. Our campaign is a multi-pronged fight for real societal change on the way bullying is dealt with. Something needs to be done. xoxo

  13. I am absolutely devastated to read this. Can’t imagine what her family are going through. It is so hard to protect our kids from this stuff. I just hope regulation on all social networking sites is brought in fast before more teens die. X

    • Thanks Sarah. Yes, it’s time the government took some action. Things can’t carry on at this rate. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts. And so lovely to meet you at the MADs. xoxo

  14. Hiya I’m so sorry for the tragic loss so close to home for you. I have a teenager and I’m well aware of this site. I was going to write about it in August but didn’t get round to it!! Going to write it now…. You are right, it is a vile pointless site that needs closing down. I will sign and hopefully get this to parliament. Lots of love to you and Izzys family xxx

    • Hi Carolynne, Thanks so much for commenting, and that would be great if you could write about it – we all really need to get this message out to parents, as I think lots of them aren’t even aware that it exists. Thanks so much for your support. Let me know when you’ve done your blog post and I’ll make sure I repost and Retweet, etc. xoxo

  15. Thank you for writing thing, I have never heard of this site before and I’m hoping that by the time my younger children are teenagers the awful site has been shit down. I am so sorry that you lost a friend under such awful circumstances I hate the way kids bully each other with no considerations for the possible outcomes, so sad and so awful

    • Thanks for commenting Nikki. And thanks so much for your freudian slip typo too. I really hope it is ‘shit down’ – I’d definitely like to see that! That made me giggle a lot! Thanks for your support and please, help to keep spreading this message via the petition, etc. xoxo

  16. Maggie I am shocked and saddened by this, my heart goes out to you all. Izzy sounded like a beautiful and very sensible young lady – this should not be happening to anyone. I entirely agree with your post, which was well thought out and clear. I have read so much shocking stuff about the internet and teenagers recently – bullying and pornography, it sickens me. I will absolutely sign your petition and we as parents to be extra vigilant with what is going on – I didn’t know about ASK FM. I will share this post though. x

  17. Very sad, my heart goes out to you and Izzy’s family. A loss of a young life is always so upsetting. I don’t know if shutting Ask.fm down will make much difference but something does need to be done about stopping people posting anomalously on such sites. There are some great things going on in schools to teach children about internet safety but a lot more could be done. Parents and carers need to learn too, that way they can monitor their children’s use of these sites and do their best to protect them from the dangers. I do hope the petition makes a difference x

  18. I wish I knew how to find a page of my child’s. I’ve done everything I know and I don’t want to be the bully as well. I found out she has a page that is full of her now ex friends telling .fr to kill herself. I’ve had to carry her to the Dr for severe depression and she now doesn’t trust not even one friendship she has. I think that site is asking for this. I believe go free speech of course but that’s not what our freedom means. Bullying is hate speech against another because someone doesn’t like something about the other. You hate a group that starts go on one that is abuse! I believe that for every child abused, bullied, harms themselves, or dies them these places should be held accountable over and over. Stand up now for these children please! stand up for the people who are being bullied by showing these pages they cannot allow these pages to continue. Please! I can’t even prove who is doing this but I have a very good idea. Please boycott! Please help! Help our children! If you’re a bully, if you’re part of the problem please, I beg you.. Remember life is precious. Every life!

    • Sorry about the typos. go actually means in. and hate should say have. There are a few. Gotta love the auto correct.

  19. I am so sorry to hear of this awful, awful story. I will sign as soon as I have commented. I was bullied at school, really badly, I changed schools, ended up anorexic and had lots of problems. I am just glad there wasn’t social media around at the time, my sanctuary was my home and my family, they couldn’t get me there.

    So sorry, my condolences and heart felt wishes.

  20. I am so sorry to read this, my heart goes out to Izzy’s family. No one should have to go through this. It is heartbreaking, my condolences to all. I hope that the petition makes a difference – in raising awareness as much as anything xx

  21. Maddie i am so so sorry to hear of Izzzy’s death it disgusting that these platforms are allowed to function without safeguarding its child user!

    I have signed the petition, shared on facebook and I will be tweeting.

    Although this isnt a #magicmoment i think the magic comes from your amazing campaign to safeguard others, so thank you for linking up xx

    P.s I can do anything please do shout up my daughter is 12 and it terrifies me greatly

    • Hi Jaime, thanks SO much for your support on this. I really appreciate it!

      I must admit that I didn’t think ‘magic moment’ specifically when I linked up (so sorry, my head is all over the place at the moment!) But Izzy herself was always a pure #magicmoment so I hope that counts. And the love that has radiated from people sharing their memories of Izzy has been amazing. Plus so many lovely people supporting the campaign and showing they care. Inspirational indeed! Xxx

  22. The internet terrifies me. I have had a lot of child protection training at work and the internet really can be such a dark and scary place. I want to protect my children from it forever but I know I can’t!

  23. This is so very, very sad. I’ve signed the petition and hope and pray it will make a difference to many young lives. So very sad that the cost was so very high for these families. Utterly devastating and shocking that nothing more serious has been done sooner.

  24. So sorry for the loss of such a beautiful young Lady. Condolences to your Friend. Such a heartbreaking story, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain they must feel. I have signed the petition and will share your post xxx

    • Absolutely terrible isn’t it Charlie!

      The petition can be signed by people all over the world, so if you could help us make it go worldwide, that would be gratefully appreciated! Please share with all your friends on Facebook, Twitter, by email, and by word of mouth. It’s a global issue, and we really need to get global exposure in order to get our 100,000 names so we can present it to UK parliament. We would be so thankful if you could help us!

  25. Izzy’s poem is heart breaking, her sadness and overwhelming despair reaches out and hits you, her last line “I give up” is so poignant. Nothing can undo the harm to her, Izzy is now at peace, but it would give some consolation to her poor mother if the on line anti bullying petition in Izzy’s name could reach the required 100,000 signatures. The askfm site is despicably vile and should be closed down, but I fear that if it were closed down another money grabbing site would take its place. What it need is for the cyber war experts to destroy the site and any like it. Free speech is fine, but it has its limits, you don’t for instance stand up in a crowded cinema and shout “fire, fire” just because you feel like it, and you want to use your freedom of speech! I agree that this petition needs a much wider audience, I have e-mailed three national newspapers asking them to publicise the “shut down cyber bullying site Askfm in memory of Izzy Dix” whether they will is of course up to the editors. I would urge anyone to e-mail the national papers and any other organisations they can think of to encourage them to publicise Izzy’s petition site, Attaining the 100,000 signatures would be a great memorial tribute to the poor girl. Is there anything I could do to help, I would be happy to post leaflets etc.

  26. Bullying should never be tolerated. Such a pity that a young promising life has been lost.. i;ve signed the petition too..

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  28. Pingback: Make a Change.org for Izzy Dix. Sign our ask.fm petition

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  30. In the US we’re having the same issues. Last week a 14yo boy in a Cleveland suburb took his own life after being cyberbullied on Ask.fm. I’m an Internet Safety expert in the states, and I present to thousands of students, schools, and parents.

    Here is my response to this issue AND a way that we can all become involved in terms of actually making a dent in the bottom line of Ask.fm. I don’t know if it’s reasonable to think that we can shut them down directly. However, we can put pressure on their advertisers to pull their ad dollars away from Ask.fm and towards other companies.

    Read this post: http://www.overnightgeekuniversity.com/an-open-letter-to-teens-who-use-ask-fm-read-post-share/

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