This article was originally published on The Huffington Post, United Kingdom and written by Gabbi Dix.
Last week a news story sent a shiver down my spine. During the inquest into the death of 15-year-old Tallulah Wilson, her mum called for action against the "toxic digital world" that made the last months of her daughter's life hell. It's a feeling I share.
On the evening of Tuesday 17 September 2013, my 14-year-old daughter Izzy Dix took her own life. For a period of almost two years Izzy was bullied. She was tormented at school, in the local community and online. We spoke openly about this, I contacted the school on many occasions, and I was trying my best every day to help and support her through it. The worst of the online bullying took place on a website called Ask.fm.
Izzy had been having a hard time settling into her school, so I agreed that when she turned 13 she could get a Facebook account as I thought it might help her to socialise. Then she asked to join Ask.fm - a question and answer website based in Latvia - because "everyone at school was on it". I'd never heard of it before, but it seemed like harmless fun to me, so I agreed. But it wasn't harmless at all.
It's a website used predominantly by teenagers that allows users to post comments and remain anonymous. Because of this it has become a notorious platform for cyberbullies.
Izzy came to me because she began receiving abuse on her page. She showed me how it worked and I was horrified. The nasty comments Izzy received could have been posted by complete strangers, kids at school, or even by grown adults - but we had no way of knowing for sure. Bullying is a complicated issue. Whilst I'm not blaming Ask.fm directly for my daughter's death, she was very distressed by the online harassment and on top of the bullying she was receiving at school, it certainly added to her deep upset.
Ask.fm has now been linked to the suicides of 14 teenagers around the world in a little over a year after they were reportedly cyberbullied on there. ChildLine has recently announced an 87% increase in the number of kids seeking help over online bullying in the past year alone. Something needs to be done now.
Bullying on the internet is spiralling out of control and it's a world many adults - and many of the adults who we look towards to keep us safe - don't really seem to understand. But while politicians and police flounder trying to get to grips with technology that evolves and changes weekly, how many more children like Izzy or Tallulah will be put in a position where they feel taking their own lives is the only way out?
With the help of family and friends I started an anti-bullying campaign called 'Love for Izzy Dix' which aims to lobby the government to change the way bullying is dealt with in society. Our petition on Change.org has the support of more than 100,000 people all calling on David Cameron to help close down or place restrictions on Ask.fm. At the very least, we want to permanently disable the ability for users to remain anonymous on there, as this is the aspect which is causing the most damage. On top of this our campaign calls for better education programmes in schools, increased parental awareness and responsibility, support programmes for both victims and bullies, increased accountability for social media networks and websites, and for the police and schools to treat bullying more seriously.
I'm a single mum and Izzy was my only child. My old life has now gone forever and I'm struggling to make sense of my new one. This campaign won't bring Izzy back. But it will spread awareness about the potential dangers of Ask.fm and bullying in general to parents and teens - and could save lives.
You can sign Gabbi's petition by following this link