Sudbury·Audio

Social media sites rife with negativity from anonymous bullies: police

Schools and police in the northeast are warning parents about cyberbullies on social media sites such as Ask.fm, which people use to anonymously threaten young people online.

Parents need to monitor where their teens are going online, Timmins police officer says

Schools and police in northeastern Ontario are warning parents about cyberbullies on social media sites. (Shutterstock)

Schools and police in the northeast are warning parents about cyberbullies on social media sites such as Ask.fm, which people use to anonymously threaten young people online.

Timmins Police Cst. Rick Lemieux said he has heard complaints about the website.

The liaison officer with schools in Timmins also said one student was encouraged to commit suicide in messages from unknown sources.

Lemieux said parents need to monitor their teens because Ask.fm isn't the only website like this.

“There's other websites too, like RateMyRack.com, and you can name the body part and they have it where young teenagers are going on here and posting pictures of themselves and then people could post anonymously what they think of that body part.”

A spokesperson for Ask.fm says the company was sold three months ago. She said the new owners are reviewing their strategies and technology and expanding the filters for inappropriate content.

That content can be damaging for teens, many of whom often have shaky self-esteem to begin with, Lemieux said.

“Having all this negativity could really bring you down.”

Legally, not much can be done, Lemieux added. The identity of the bully is hidden in cyberspace.

The principal at Lockerby Composite high school in Sudbury said she has tried unsuccessfully to investigate complaints from students about Ask.fm.

Heather Gaffney said the school does its part to prepare students in technology class.

“Students get education around social media awareness and responsibility in that first year here.”

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