Self-harm websites top list of teenagers' greatest worries about the internet

Charities last night called for the Government to act after new research revealed that websites encouraging suicide and self-harm topped a list of teenagers' greatest worries about the internet. The findings have raised fears that growing numbers of young people are becoming vulnerable to the messages being put out by such sites.

The findings come just a week after widespread condemnation of internet trolling associated with the death of the cyber-bullying victim Amanda Todd. The Canadian teenager was found dead on 10 October, a few weeks after she had posted a harrowing YouTube video in which she told of the online bullying she had suffered by holding up handwritten notes. Vigils were held for the 15-year-old schoolgirl across Canada and as far afield as India on Friday night.

The charities' calls also highlighted the death of British teenager Tallulah Wilson, 15, who was found dead on the tracks of St Pancras Station in London last Sunday, after reportedly posting messages on Twitter referring to websites featuring self-harm.

A leading charity Beat Bullying said young people were now increasingly falling victim to online bullying and malicious communications, which they say has become a "very serious" problem. The organisation warned that many teenagers, young children and parents were still confused about whether they could seek legal protection against such abuse.

Emma-Jane Cross, the chief executive of Beat Bullying, said: "It's time for us to do something about it. We may have to look at revising existing laws - the vast amount of which were made before the advancements in technology - to see if they are still fit for purpose.

"Children want to know what protection the law can give them if they're abused online, and that's not clear at the moment."

Scott Freeman, from the cyber-bullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation, added: "What we would like to see is the current outdated legislation to be amended so it is designed for the internet. It needs to define whether the internet is public or private - because at the moment it's a grey area of law."

The survey carried out by Beat Bullying earlier this year found that more than half, 54 per cent of the 11- to 18-year-olds they questioned said that sites promoting suicide were their biggest worry when it came to the internet. A further 44 per cent said they were most worried by pages which promoted self-harm.

But the top concern among the respondents - of which 81 per cent were female - was online bullying, with 58 per cent saying this was their most pressing worry.

One 16-year-old, Georgia Woods, told last night of her own experience of vicious online taunts from classmates, revealing that at one point she even came close to taking her own life.

She said: "There was a hate mail Facebook page. I was receiving messages and texts and couldn't log on to my computer without there being some sort of death threat.

"At first I was just confused, but as it went on I started to believe them and that's when I started getting suicidal thoughts and when I tried to hang myself."

Following a sharp rise in criminal complaints involving Twitter and Facebook, the Criminal Prosecution Service is now planning to issue new legal guidelines on social media cases.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Oxfordshire - £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: BI Developer (Business In...

    Guru Careers: Mac Operator / Artworker

    £Negotiable (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Mac Operator / Artworker to ...

    Guru Careers: Digital Content Designer / Web Designer

    £Negotiable (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Digital Content Designer / W...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore