Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Trolls 'target victim's sister'

Hannah Smith's father David Smith receives tributes at his home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire
Tributes outside Hannah Smith's home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire

The sister of a "cyberbullying" victim is struggling to cope after being targeted by online abuse in the wake of the teenager's death, it has been reported.

Hannah Smith, 14, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, killed herself on Friday after being bullied on website ask.fm, her father Dave said.

Her older sister Jo, 16, told the Daily Mirror how she is now being subjected to the same hateful taunts her sister was as they prepare for her funeral.

"I've just lost my sister and now I've got to deal with getting abuse myself," she told the Mirror. "These trolls don't care what happened to Hannah or what we're going through, they just live in their sad little worlds. It's really upsetting. I'm struggling to cope with what's happened and don't need these trolls hounding me."

Jo described her sister as "a beautiful person and so full of life and love".

Mr Smith said the schoolgirl was found dead in her bedroom by Jo.

Website ask.fm has described Hannah's death as a "true tragedy" and promised to work with police investigating the incident. A spokeswoman for ask.fm said in a statement: "We have reached out to the Leicestershire police and would be happy to co-operate with their investigation into the true circumstances of her suicide. Ask.fm actively encourages our users and their parents to report any incidences of bullying, either by using the in-site reporting button, or via our contact page. All reports are read by our team of moderators to ensure that genuine concerns are heard and acted upon immediately - and we always remove content reported to us that violates our Terms of Service."

The question-and-answer site allows users to send messages to one another without their identity being disclosed. Although users have to register an email address, name and date of birth, those posting messages can choose to do so anonymously.

Mr Smith, 45, a lorry driver, called on David Cameron to put regulations in place on social networking websites such as ask.fm, to try to prevent another tragedy. He is urging the authorities to close down the site, and those like it, after stumbling across cruel taunts from so-called "trolls" which he said drove his daughter to take her own life.

He told the Leicester Mercury: "Ask.fm and sites like these are making millions out of people's misery and it is wrong. I would appeal to David Cameron as a Prime Minister and a father to look at this to make sure these sites are properly regulated so bullying of vulnerable people like my daughter cannot take place. I don't want other parents to go through what I am going through."

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