KENMORE, Wash. — Many parents may not know about the website Ask.fm, but it’s taking off among young kids.
Kenmore Junior High Principal Kim Armstrong says it’s a hot spot for kids to write mean comments about one another. She said she’s already had four cases of bullying linked to the site.
It’s getting easier for kids to harass and bully each other on sites like Ask.fm.
“Everyone has it, so it’s kind of a fashionable thing,” ninth-grader Jasmine Safford said.
Anyone can ask or answer a question on this site, stay anonymous and there is virtually no privacy settings.
“Everyone sees everything. You put it out there and you just get what you get,” Armstrong said.
“I’ve been bullied many times on this website and it hurts,” Safford said.
Painful comments online are both public and permanent — and some say it’s leading to suicides from bullying.
There has been nine suicides that’s been directly related to Ask.fm, Armstrong said.
In a rare move, Florida officials filed felony charges against two girls for tormenting a 12-year-old girl and encouraging her to kill herself. One of the girls who was arrested admitted to bullying the victim, even posting online that she didn’t care that the girl had committed suicide.
“Who is the next person? We decided that, look, we can’t leave her out there. Who else is she gonna torment? Who else is she going to harass? Who’s the next person?” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said of his decision to arrest the young girl.
The Florida incident may be the worst-case scenario, but local students say the danger is always looming. And Ask.fm is just one of many sites popping up every day.
“It’s important that parents know that there are things that kids are doing that they don’t know about that is hurting their feelings and their reputations even,” ninth-grader Marisa Dawson said.
Armstrong has suspended students over bullying linked to the site and parents have already received an e-mail about the problem.
“It can stress you out to the point where you don’t want to do your school work,” Safford said.
Safford canceled her account on Ask.fm for good and Armstrong hopes other students will do the same.
According to bullying statistics.org, about half of all young people are cyber-bullied and girls are more likely to be involved than boys.
Experts say it’s important that you monitor your kid’s online activity both on the the computer and cell phone. Also, set clear guidelines on what they can and cannot sign up for.
Below is the a portion of a statement releasd by Ask.fm.
We recently announced a series of changes to Ask.fm to ensure that our abuse and inappropriate content reporting systems are among the most effective in the industry.
We are pleased to say that many of these changes are already in place and we are working hard to ensure the rest are implemented as soon as possible.
The preeminent online child safety expert, Annie Mullins OBE, is reviewing all of our policies and advising us on the best way to keep our online community safe.
Sadly, bullying can take place anywhere, so it is important that we, parents and users work together to fight it. As such, our reporting facilities have been improved and are now more prominent.
Anyone can report inappropriate content, no matter where on the site they see it. We now have an ‘in-question’ reporting function, which enables our users to highlight any question they find inappropriate with just one click.
If a user sees something that isn’t right before we do, we would ask that they help us stand up to bullies by reporting it. Any complaints made about this kind of abuse are prioritised automatically and our team of moderators are committed to dealing with them as soon as possible.
Ask.fm is committed to doing everything it can to protect its users and stamp out bullying or any other kind of abuse.