Keep up the war on cyber-bullying

Last week David Cameron backed our call for a boycott of the latest haven for cyber-bullies, Ask.fm.

Carina McKeown: 'We need to continue to respond to sites such as Ask.fm that are not taking the safeguarding of users seriously enough.'
Carina McKeown: 'We need to continue to respond to sites such as Ask.fm that are not taking the safeguarding of users seriously enough.'

It was a watershed in BeatBullying's efforts to put cyber-bullying on the agenda for debate in the national media, but we still have a long way to go. Our research has found one in 13 young people has fallen victim to cruel, intrusive and persistent online abuse.

We need to recognise that the way to make bullying unacceptable is two-pronged. Firstly, we need to address the age-old problem of bullying through shaping attitudes: this is where buy-in from opinion formers and the media can play a role.

Earlier this year, BeatBullying launched a campaign with The Sun on Sunday for Ayden's Law. This followed the death of Ayden Olson, 14-year-old son of Sun Justice campaigner Shy Keenan, who took his own life after a shocking chain of abuse at school. Shy joined Beat-Bullying in calling for a children's anti-bullying bill. By engaging the support of Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, bullying has been added to the antisocial behaviour bill. We now look forward to working with the Government on a UK-wide anti-bullying strategy.

But we must recognise bullying is no longer confined to the school gates or UK borders. This year we have launched our intervention and support services in seven countries across Europe.

Secondly, we must tackle the short-term emergency head-on. We need to continue to respond to the immediate crises of sites such as Ask.fm that are not taking the safeguarding of users seriously enough.

That's why we launched a social media campaign targeting the lifeblood of Ask.fm: its advertisers. So far we congratulate brands such as BT, Durex, Specsavers and Laura Ashley on swift action to pull their funding of the site. Until Ask.fm increases its safeguarding resources, BeatBullying will put the pressure on.

We must not allow this focus to fade once the media tire of the scandal surrounding Twitter trolls and Ask.fm. We owe it to Hannah and all of the young people living in fear a result of cyber-bullies today.

Carina McKeown is director of comms at The BB Group, which comprises BeatBullying and three other charities.

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