Cyberbullied teenager ‘trolled to death’ on popular networking site - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 7 August

Online bullying has rarely been out of the news this summer, from the abuse directed at feminist campaigners on Twitter to the tragic story of a schoolgirl who killed herself last week, apparently after being targeted by cyber-bullies.


Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 7 August

Cyberbullied teenager ‘trolled to death’ on popular networking site


Online bullying has rarely been out of the news this summer, from the abuse directed at feminist campaigners on Twitter to the tragic story of a schoolgirl who killed herself last week, apparently after being targeted by cyber-bullies.

If the headlines of the past few weeks are to be believed, more and more people are using the internet, and social media in particular, to abuse and bully others.

Recent examples of so-called “Twitter trolling” have included the rape and death threats aimed at campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who had lobbied for a woman to be represented on a British banknote. When Labour MP Stella Creasy supported Ms Criado-Perez against the trolls, she herself became a target.

Other prominent women, including historian Mary Beard and a number of female journalists, have in recent weeks revealed similar abuse and threats on the microblogging site.

An arrest has been made in Ms Criado-Perez’s case and Twitter has responded to pressure by revealing plans to include a “report abuse” button on its website.

But perhaps the most tragic story is that of 14-year-old Hannah Smith from Leicestershire, who was found hanged at home last week after suffering weeks of torment from online bullies.

Newspapers said she had been “trolled to death” after she was repeatedly abused by users of the social networking website Ask.fm.

Her father, David Smith, took to Facebook to urge parents to stop their children visiting the website – which is open to users from the age of 13 – and called on prime minister David Cameron to ensure that such sites are properly regulated.

The site, which has 60 million users, has been criticised by anti-bullying charities because it allows users to post anonymously.

A statement released this morning by the site’s owners says: “Hannah Smith’s death is a tragedy; we would like to convey our deepest condolences to her family and friends. We have reached out to Leicestershire police and would be happy to co-operate with their investigation into the circumstances.”

They also say that the site “actively encourages” users or their parents to report incidences of bullying.

But clearly the issues of social media and bullying are not likely to go away any time soon, and increasing awareness among teenagers seems the only viable option.

Questions


  • Why do you think some people feel it is okay to target others through social media?
  • Anonymity seems to change the way that people behave to one another. Why do you think this is?
  • What associations does the word "troll" have? Why do you think the people who post these messages are referred to as "trolls"?
  • What should you do if are receiving upsetting or abusive messages online?

Related resources


Teachers TV: Cyberbullying

  • Watch a 14-year-old girl describe her experiences of cyberbullying in this video from Teachers TV.

Netiquette

  • Check out this list of dos and don’t’s for online behaviour and etiquette.

Cyberbullying lesson plan

  • This 50-minute lesson plan from Beatbullying has been devised for both primary and secondary children. Together with your class you will get young people defining and understanding cyberbullying and its consequences.

Cyber-bullying

  • Browse our selection of lesson plans, advice and activities around online bullying.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


A little co-operation goes a long way in evolution, scientists find. New research is challenging the assumption that evolution favours the selfish.

Twitter is facing demands that it take a tougher stance on abuse after a campaigner was subjected to a succession of rape threats on the microblogging website.

A future king of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms has been born in London’s St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

Nelson Mandela has turned 95, but the man celebrated as the central figure in the fight to end apartheid in South Africa remains in hospital in a critical condition.



In the news archive index