Mom stunned by horrible social media bullying of daughter

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DENVER -- As parents, it can be difficult to protect our kids from bullying and monitor all their social media accounts.

But Naomi Lowell will tell you just how important she thinks that is.

The mother from Highlands Ranch checked her 13-year-old daughter's accounts recently, and was horrified by what she found.

"Awful stuff, like go kill yourself," the mother cried.  Lowell says there were terrible comments and threats on her daughter's Facebook page and on ask.fm, a social networking site based in Europe, that allows users to post comments and questions anonymously.

"Seeing a question like 'why haven’t you killed yourself yet?' And her replying with something like, 'Yeah maybe I should.' How do you wrap your head around that?" the mom said.

Lowell says she contacted school officials, who responded immediately by investigating and also talking to her daughter about any participation she may have had in the exchanges.

The mother says she repeatedly contacted ask.fm, and eventually got an email response, and most of the postings were taken down.  But she is upset, and wants other parents to know about the site.  "It's just kind of eye opening," she said.

This kind of bullying on social media is a concern for Colorado officials as well.

Susan Payne is the director of Safe2Tell, a program run through the attorney general's office.

Kids can report threatening behavior anonymously through the Safe2Tell website, by phone or in some places through text message.

In September the program had its highest number of reports ever. "Our leading category, for the first time, was interventions in suicidal children and this is a really big wake up call for us," Payne said.

The program got 49 reports of suicidal children as young as nine in that one month alone, and many of them had problems with bullying.

Payne says kids need to know there is help available through family, schools and law enforcement. "We can do due diligence to find out who is doing that," Payne said.

But that kind of help didn't come soon enough for Rebecca Sedwick. The 12-year-old Florida girl committed suicide in September after repeatedly being bullied on social media. Two girls who allegedly bullied her are now facing charges of aggravated stalking.

With so much at stake doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado say parents may want to restrict access to sites like ask.fm.

"Be responsible and make sure that your child’s access is limited and that their engagement is appropriate," said Natalie Abramson, a pediatric psychologist. "Certainly you should have a zero tolerance policy for your child being attacked by others virtually and zero tolerance policy for your child attacking others virtually, and following up very closely and coherently with school professionals as well," Abramson said.

Parenting and technology writer Dave Taylor says there are plenty of options for parents who choose to monitor their kids.

"If you have wireless internet at your house, in the router itself  you can have software that monitors what sites you visit. You can do the same on computers, and you can do the same on phones," Taylor said. Follow this link and watch the video to hear more of Taylor's valuable advice.

There's also products like Net Nanny, uknowkids.com and Social Scout that help parents keep track.

Naomi Lowell admits she hadn't checked her daughter's accounts for a while, but says it's not a mistake she will make again.

9 comments

  • Hyacinth Smith

    Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.Bullying is never about you. You have the right to explore who you are. You are responsible with your own protection check this at http://safekidzone.com/#!/page_home.

  • Ravensclawth

    To much emphasis on restricting access to this or that, trying to get kids to not bully, etc. We need to find some way to teach our kids how to be immune to the bullying. It doesn’t affect us (as badly) as adults, what changed between the time we were their age and ours, and how do we express it and teach it to our kids?

  • Cristine Buntin

    Let me add my two cents. First of all Steve, my grand-daughter uses her computer to do homework and to socialize with her friends. Last year my daughter had to take her daughter out of Weld Central High School because of the bullying. Everywhere she went on the Internet, these obnoxious little jerks would find her. Telling her to kill herself, and all sorts of remarks that would devastate an adult, let alone a 14 year old. What’s so funny, is that she’s doing a lot better, has better friends, and awesome grades. Far better then the school that she had been going to. By the way, she changed her Facebook page so many times and they would still find her. Now she has all of her previous Weld Central Friends blocked and only talks to two people, her boyfriend and a friend that she goes to school with now. Maybe you should check andf see what your kids are up too or are they the ones that like to bully other kids?

  • Cristine Buntin

    Oh by the way, she wasn’t just being bullied at school but everywhere she went. Now she stays home. If you were 15, what would you do after being bullied by people that you thought were your friends?

  • David (@DAlires303)

    Maybe people should raise there children not to be so susceptible to nasty children, and on the other hand parents need to teach there children manners on how the be a respectable human being. Were so coddled in this society but yet we are that way because many people lack common decency.

  • Haley

    Thanks for the story. We hear of too many stories like this and have made it our mission to prevent them from happening. At uKnowKids we help parents be aware of what their kids are doing online while keeping a respectful distance. We have a series of great tools for parents to use to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Check out our products at http://www.uknowkids.com

  • R Jones

    Christine, It sounds like your granddaughter needs to just use her computer for homework If she can’t avoid being a victim.

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