16 year-old Florida Sophomore Jessica Laney, committed suicide after being bullied on the social networking site Ask.fm. Ask.fm is a site where people can post anonymous questions, however it was used to post hurtful comments to Jessica’s page. Instead of questions some people called her fat, ugly, and a slut. One person even posted, “Can you kill yourself already?” and another commented “nobody even cares about you”.
Jessica deactivated her account twice, but decided to reactivate it out of curiosity. “We would tell her, ‘Don’t reactivate it,’ ” said one of her best friends, Lisa Arthur, 15. “But she would. She’d say, ‘I just want to see what people are saying.’
Jessica also used the site as a forum to discuss her family issues and concerns with her body image: “My brother and I don’t talk anymore. My dad, yeah he ignores me like I don’t even f*cking exist. I have almost no friends I actually trust. My mom bitches at me for the littlest things. I am basically all alone.”
In one post Jessica responded to a question about her feelings on suicide, her answer is haunting: “If you ever feel this low I just wanna say it’s not your fault. I know you feel useless, broken, not wanted and alone. I was there. But I promise you it will get better. You will get through the endless pain I promise school will be over soon and you can get away from the judgmental f***s. Nothing is worth it; it will all get better.”
Valeria Canales told ABC News: “My friend Jessica Laney took her life. She was constantly bullied and bullied. And she was pushed and pushed to the point where she couldn’t handle it anymore.”
I share these stories as a means of awareness and education for parents and students. It’s not meant to scare anyone, but puts a “realization” to the potential dangers of online interactions and to emphasize the importance of monitoring your child’s Internet activity.
- Keep the lines of communication open and don’t let your ego get in the way. I would love for my daughter to want to talk to me about everything, but I also want to give her an option if she feels as if she can’t. I have deliberately placed people in my daughter’s life to call her, check in on her, show an interest and mentor her. She now has her grandparents, aunts, cousins, teachers, and my sorority sisters as an outlet if she needs to talk to someone other than me. There is power in having options!
- Monitor their online interactions. Ask questions as to why they want a particular social networking account. What is the purpose of the site, what is it used for, what is the climate of the conversation, and most importantly you should always review the site by joining or researching.
- Teach and live the power of self-love. Self-love and acceptance for young girls start from within, there is no social networking site in the world that can teach them about their self-worth. Encourage them to love and accept themselves, by sharing affirmations, attending workshops, positive self-talk, and lots of encouragement. Another powerful way to show a young daughter she is loved is to get in her business, check her online and offline interactions, and don’t be afraid to say no.
Jessica…RIPJoin my Blog or Social Media Sites: My blog and social media sites are constantly updated with “real stories,” and practical tips to keep parents and teens aware of what’s really going on. You are not alone, you don’t have to know it all and I am relentless about keeping kids safe Online. There are many ways you can receive update to information from me:
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