On Tuesday, Gabbi Dix and I made our way up to Westminster for the first ‘Love for Izzy Dix’ campaign meeting with the powers that be.
We were there to see Gabbi’s MP, Dr Sarah Wollaston, the member for Totnes, to discuss next steps for our anti-bullying campaign.
If you aren’t aware of our campaign, it’s in the memory of Gabbi’s 14 year old daughter, Izzy, who was a very close friend of our family and who took her own life in September after being bullied at school, in the community and online. Please click here to read my original blog post about Izzy, who we miss dearly.
We started a petition on Change.org in her name, asking Prime Minister David Cameron to shut down or place restrictions on the social media website, Ask.fm, after it has been linked to the suicides of 15 teenagers in a little over a year after they were allegedly bullied on there. It has recently been in the news after a 14 year old named Nadia from Veneto in Italy took her own life in February.
Our petition currently has over 113,000 signatures, and because it has reached over 100,000, we have earned the right to either have it discussed in Parliament or officially present it to Number 10 Downing Street.
Dr Sarah Wollaston and her team are helping us to make this happen. We had a brilliant meeting which touched upon many topics closely related to bullying, including modernising the Sex and Relationship Education curriculum in schools; sexting; trolls and police powers; and of course, Ask.fm.
We discussed our latest campaign idea – asking the government to help us put pressure on social media websites to implement the facility for ‘Parental Passwords’, whereby parents would have a separate password when setting up their child’s social media account to ensure that privacy settings aren’t changed down the line by the teen. This would make Ask.fm safer, for example, because parents could ensure their child’s account is set so as not to accept anonymous questions and it would stay that way. This would also make Facebook safer for teens, as parents could rest assured that their child’s account would be set to Private (rather than Public) and could not be changed without inputting the ‘Parental Password’. (It used to be impossible for the privacy settings of teenage Facebook accounts to be set to Public, but Facebook changed this restriction in October, adding greatly to parental concerns.)
What do other parents think of this idea? Would it be helpful to your family? Would it help to put your mind at ease about your teenagers’ use of social media?
We also discussed the placing of restrictions on Suicide and Self Harm Search Terms. We would like the government to put pressure on Google, Bing and the other large search engines to include suicide and self harm phrases in the list of search terms that come back with a ‘clean return’. Instead the searcher would find information and phone numbers where they could receive help. The key here is for the search engines to differentiate between sites that glorify and assist in self harm and suicide versus sites which are genuine educational and support resources for young people who need help (i.e. appropriate sites must be identified and ‘whitelisted’ so they are not accidentally ‘blacklisted’).
Attending this meeting was so difficult for Gabbi and it took a huge amount of strength, composure and bravery to get through such an emotional occasion. I was so proud of her for achieving this, all in the name of wanting to help young people in the UK and across the globe in order to stop another mother having to go through the horror that she is currently going through. She is an amazing woman and every day her humility and nobleness astounds me.
If you’d like to support our anti-bullying campaign and help us to change the way bullying is dealt with in society, you can:
- Sign our petition.
- Like our Facebook page.
- Follow us on Twitter.
- Share us on social media.
- Buy a ‘Don’t bully. Love instead. Love for Izzy Dix’ anti-bullying wristband from Adband.
Thanks so much for your help and support. Together, we can make a difference.
If you like what the ‘Love for Izzy Dix’ anti-bullying campaign is trying to achieve, then it would be great if you would consider nominating Gammon & Chips for the Outstanding Contribution category in the 2014 MAD Blog Awards (when nominations open). Or if you just like reading Gammon & Chips, then a nomination for Blog of the Year, Best Writer or Best Family Fun Blog would be hugely appreciated!