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Social media website has become a popular place for cyber-bullying among local teens

Unique feature makes Ask.fm particularly appealing to youth

September 15, 2013|By: Shayla Patrick | spatrick@ky3.com

SPRINGFIELD, Mo -- School may be out for the weekend but that doesn't stop some classroom bullies.

"It was actually a friend of mines daughter and it was brought to my attention that she was getting bullied a little on Ask.fm," said Delora Roberts, cheer leading coach and parent.

"ASK.FM" is a social website centered around asking questions, but some say it's being used to spread hate.

"Kids telling each other to just hang themselves. They were calling each other names that are definitely not appropriate for seventh graders, [names] that I didn't even think they would even know," Roberts explains.

Roberts says this site is unique because it gives users the option to remain anonymous. It's a type of bullying experts say can have long lasting effects.

"They can get sick they can get so anxious and worried about going to school the next day and facing their peers that they end up trying to stay home sick," said Erica Manahan of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

But an obvious question remains, why not just log off, and power down to give the bullies less avenues to contact you? Parents say for these impressionable teens, it's not always that simple.

"Although its bad attention, it's a little bit of attention and maybe that's what they are looking for and just getting it the wrong way," said Roberts.

And for those who want to keep their online profiles but stop the abuse, experts and parents say it's going to take work from all parties involved.

"I think the biggest thing that kids can do is monitoring who you are friends with online and who you are allowing to talk with you," said Manahan.

Roberts says she knows from experience that communication can be key to making sure your child doesn't become a victim.

"I just think it's important to be nosy. Ask questions, I guarantee if you don't ask a question  your teen is not going to tell you that someone is saying things to them or they are saying things to other people," said Roberts.

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According to British news source "The Telegraph" four suicide deaths in Britain and Ireland have been linked to abusive comments on Ask.fm.

Learn more about Ask.fm:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10303300/Schoolgirl-threatened-suicide-following-bullying-on-Ask.fm.html

http://ask.fm/about/privacy

http://www.webwise.ie/AskfmGuide.shtm

http://www.commpartnership.org/

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