Our first visit to Westminster! Love for Izzy Dix

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Old vs New Parliament buildings. Our meeting was in the new building.

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.

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Amazing atrium inside Portcullis House

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.)

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Inside the corridors of power!

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’).

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Painting of the House of Commons in Portcullis House

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Don’t bully. Love instead. Love for Izzy Dix.

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:

  1. Sign our petition.
  2. Like our Facebook page.
  3. Follow us on Twitter.
  4. Share us on social media.
  5. Buy a ‘Don’t bully. Love instead. Love for Izzy Dix’ anti-bullying wristband from Adband.
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Gammon & Chips (www.gammonandchips.com)

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!

6 thoughts on “Our first visit to Westminster! Love for Izzy Dix

  1. Wow! well done Maddie. So brilliant that you don’t just throw your hands up and declare it all too hard to make a change.
    If someone could wave their magic wand over social media land, I wish there was a way that we could make ALL parents aware of what their kids are saying and writing to each other online and making them accountable for their vicious and revolting behavior on these sites. Its like some of these kids parents haven’t got a bloody clue what hideous creatures they are raising.

  2. My goodness – I am sure it was awfully hard for your friend but it sounds like you are both trying to help other children/teens and that can only be a good thing! #MagicMoments

  3. Maddie I am so so pleased this is on its journey to help so many others. I have a 13 year old and this terrifies me!

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

    • Thanks so much Jaime. Mine are 4 and 2 and it terrifies me too! The Internet seems to have just kind of happened and there is a lot of catching up to do. There are many things that are being done in schools to help prevent bullying, but as the problem gets worse, the education needs to increase. Hopefully increased awareness and some key changes will help. Xxx

  4. That’s fantastic! The campaign has achieved so much. Well done to you – and well done to Gabi for her bravery. I’m sure it would be so easy just to wallow in sadness rather than get out there and do something for positive.
    The thought of online bullying really scares me. My son is nearly 13 so I won’t be able to stop him getting social media accounts once he turns 13. The parental password thing sounds a brilliant idea.

  5. Well done with all you have achieved so far lovely. It’s wonderful that something good has come out of something so painful and sad. I shall never forget our chat at the MADs and how you wondered where your blog was going. Well I think you know now :) thank you for linking to PoCoLo and well done xx

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