18-year-old girl commits suicide after being cyberbullied by a shop owner – Keeping Teens Safe on the Internet

images-2Cyberbullying is usually attributed to teens, however we should be aware that it can take many forms.  Unfortunately social media has taken the place of resolving issues, the old fashioned way, as some people have opted to take the cowardly approach and hide behind the computer.

Unfortunately, An Qi, an 18-year-old high school student from China found herself  in a cyberbullying situation with a business owner.  After visiting a clothing store in Donghai County of Lufeng City in Guangdong Province, An Qi was labelled a thief on a microblog by the shop- owner.  The owner noticed a few items missing from her shop and posted surveillance images of Qi in the shop with the caption – “this girl is a thief, she often comes to my shop with a dog. Please repost and hunt the thief for me.”  The shop-owner had no proof that An Qi was a thief, and later stated that she was using the Internet to simply locate her.

As soon as the blog was posted, people began to search for the alleged thief.  It didn’t long for An Qi’s private information, ranging from her name, home address, school and personal photos to be posted online.  She was subjected to online abuse and the information reached her school mates.

On December 2nd, An Qi asked for two days sick leave from school, and the next day she committed suicide by jumping into the river.  Before she took her life, she posted on the shop-owners microblog, “This is the first day, I’m not afraid of the river.”

An Qi’s father brought a lawsuit against the shop-owner, accusing her of Internet Defamation and thousands of people have left messages vouching for the right to privacy.  On the legal front, experts say there are still many grey areas.

“The public often see the Internet as a platform for judgment and publish their remarks without judicial authorization. People’s privacy and personality could be hurt by certain remarks on the Internet. The law is vague on dealing with such problems. How one gauges and defines responsibility on the internet still requires clarification.” Xu Xuan, law professor of Jinan University, said.

My two cents:  It saddens me that I actually have to ask the question, “What happened to old-fashioned communication?”  Old fashioned in as: talking face to face, picking up the phone and calling someone, writing a letter, etc.  I love technology, however it has become a crutch that support laziness and cowards!    This is not the first time “online shaming,” has caused someone to take their lives, and I’m going to say it:  ITS NOT WORTH IT…It’s not worth having the blood of someone on your hands, and I want our children to recognize that it’s not worth them taking their lives!  

My advice to adults:  Even if you feel that you have been wronged, take a moment to breathe.   Wait a day before taking any action and consider talking with someone.  Your actions could actually change someone’s life and I’m thinking that “someone stealing from your shop,” “talking about you,” etc. is not worth the consequences of a person taking their life….

My advice to teens:  If you find yourself the victim of cyberbullying, PLEASE talk with someone.  STOP.  No matter what you are feeling, this too will pass.  Speak with your family, friends, school administration, even the authorities.   What others say about you is not your issue, unless you believe them.  Don’t believe the hype, because that’s all it is.  Usually the person bullying has low self-esteem and they have to make others feel bad about themselves in order to thrive.  You are enough and your life is worth living.  Repeat after me:  Bully…You can Kick Rocks!

Marlin Page is a Globetrotting Speaker,  Founder of Sisters Code, Technology Strategist- empowering women and girls in STEM and Life, and Excuse Annihilator.  As Chief Technology Mommy, Marlin shares online safety news to keep parents informed of what’s happening in the “online” world. Marlin also currently serves as a speaker for Microsoft’s Global DigiGirlz Program,  has been invited to lead a technology discussion at SXSW’s Interactive Festival, and serves as a speaker/panelist for a number of organizations.






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