Erin’s mum hits out after latest cyber-bully death [ independent.ie, by Greg Harkin, 08/07/2013 ]

Erin Gallagher
Erin Gallagher

THE death of an English schoolgirl at the hands of internet trolls on the Ask.fm website was a ‘mirror-image’ of the death of Erin Gallagher, the Irish teenager’s mum has said.

Erin Gallagher's mother Lorraine
Erin Gallagher’s mother Lorraine

Lorraine Gallagher spoke out after hearing about Hannah Smith (14), who took her own life after being taunted on the website Ask.fm.

Erin’s sister Shannon took her own life just five weeks after her sister’s death last autumn.

“I saw pictures of my two girls on television today and it was a shock,” said Lorraine. “I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on.

“I then realised that another young girl had taken her own life and it was as a direct result of being bullied through Ask.fm. I couldn’t breath for a while as I tried to take it all in.

“Hannah’s death was almost a copycat of what happened to my Erin. She was bullied online and nobody listened.

 

Hannah Smith (14)
Hannah Smith (14)

“She asked the bullies to stop but they wouldn’t. They just kept hurting her and then hiding behind this secret curtain on Ask.fm,” she said.

The heartbroken mother said she wanted the British and Irish governments to work together to get the Latvian site banned.

“How many deaths will it take before the authorities realise that Ask.fm is harming our teenagers?” she asked.

“I am asking the Irish Government to take a stand on this and lead the way and ban Ask.fm in Ireland. Sure they have the power to do that.

“If people were telling children where to get drugs or alcohol, we would be quick enough to close it down.

“But it doesn’t seem to matter that children are allowed to be bullied online by anonymous people. It has to stop,” she said.

Meanwhile, the father of a another teenage girl who took her own life after being bullied online has demanded specific new laws to tackle the issue.

Jonathan Pugsley’s 15-year-old daughter Ciara took her own life in Co Leitrim 11 months ago after suffering a torrid of sickening messages on the controversial website Ask.fm.

Mr Pugsley later gave evidence to an Oireachtas Committee on the dangers of Ask.fm and other social media sites.

But he says his pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“The politicians won’t do anything,” he told the Irish Independent.

“I’ve spoken to them and they listen but that’s it. I was told that there are already laws in place. We have been told that new laws aren’t needed to tackle bullies, that offences are covered by generic legislation.

Ciara Pugsley (15) from Co Leitrim took her own life last year
Ciara Pugsley (15) from Co Leitrim took her own life last year

 

“But it is clear that the only way of dealing with this issue is to introduce separate laws for the internet.

“The offences may well be the same as those covered in other legislation but we need to introduce the language of the internet into law to get the message across.

“The laws actually need to include words like ‘cyberbullying’ to have any effect.”

He said he would continue to campaign for changes in the law and raise awareness of the issue in a bid to prevent more deaths.

The deaths of three teenage girls have now been linked to ask.fm, following the deaths of Ciara, Hannah Smith and Donegal schoolgirl Erin Gallagher.

All had been tormented by anonymous posters on the Latvia-based site.

Erin (13) died last October just a few days before her 14th birthday. Her sister Shannon took her own life a few weeks later. Mr Pugsley added awareness of cyberbullying had been boosted by British MP Stella Creasy who was threatened with rape in a tweet.

“Ms Creasy took awareness of bullying to a new level and that was extremely helpful.”

Hannah Smith’s father David said: “This is a site where people can post anonymously and say whatever they want and get away with it.”

Mr Pugsley, who visited his daughter’s grave in Dromahair last weekend, added: “Things are still very hard for us as a family. We have good days and bad days.”

“We went to Ciara’s grave on Sunday and the priest said a wonderful Mass which was very uplifting and that helps, but Ciara’s anniversary is coming up in September and that’s still ahead of us.”

TRAGEDY

He added: “I would plead once again to parents to try to find out if their children are using these social media sites and if they are to get them off them immediately.

Meanwhile, David Smith has called on British prime minister David Cameron to clamp down on social networking websites where users can be anonymous to try to prevent another tragedy.

Ciara Pugsley's heartbroken father Jonathan
Ciara Pugsley’s heartbroken father Jonathan

Demi Lovato Fans Cyber-Bully Ashley Greene and Joe Jonas in Twitter War [ Yahoo Voices, By Sylvia Cochran, 4/11/2010 ]

With hash tags notating flying insults, some fans of Demi Lovato are taking to task ex-boyfriend Joe Jonas and his new squeeze Ashley Greene. This tempest in the teapot is just the latest Twitter war that sees posters cyber-bullying in 140 characters (or less).

Demi Lovato + Joe Jonas = Breakup
Joe Jonas + Ashley Greene + Demi Lovato Breakdown = Twitter War!

When People revealed that Demi Lovato was dating Joe Jonas back in March, 2010, the actress gushed that he (Jonas) was “perfect.” Sadly, the sentiment didn’t stick and just a couple of months later, MTV announced the couple’s breakup, fingering Jonas as the one doing the breaking.

Ashley Greene entered the limelight as Alice Cullen in Twilight. Already romantically linked to Jonas just a couple of months after the latter dumped Lovato, the Daily Fill reported in September 2010 that Lovato fans were not looking kindly on this new relationship. Protest signs (held up during a Greene shopping trip) read “Vampires Suck.”

It seems that Team Lovato is now on the cyber attack ever since the star left the tour she was on with Jonas to seek “treatment for emotional and physical issues.” Placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Greene and Jonas, the Hollywood Gossip reports that a Twitter war has erupted. Throwing around terms such as “hate” and even stronger suggestions, some Lovato fans have taken to bullying Greene and Jonas on the Internet.

Twitter Wars are Nothing New

The self-styled Team Lovato approach is an aggressive twist on a time-honored tradition. Plenty of other Twitter wars have erupted with one celeb attacking (or making fun of) another star. When George Lopez cracked wise about Lindsay Lohan and her baby powder-covered feet, Pop Eater detailed the heated exchange that followed on Twitter.

Kim Kardashian – as outlined by the NY Daily News – found herself on the short end of the lecturing stick wielded by Demi Moore. The two of them went at it on Twitter over the use of the word “pimpin’.”

Cyber Bullying is Alive and Well on Twitter

Lost in translation is the recent news of cyber-bullying, suicides caused by the practice and also the fact that it is a most vile practice. It is disturbing that being a fan entitles some Twitter users to send messages — such as “I seriously hate you. @AshleyMGreene” — when just a few months ago the news detailed the dangers of cyber-bullying and the heartbreaking results it has.

In addition, it is unclear how Demi Lovato will react to the bullying messages of hate that are sent (supposedly in her support) to Ashley Greene and Joe Jonas.