Hannah Smith: Charge Site Over Death Says Dad

August 8, 2013 |

Hannah Smith, 14, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, took her own life on Friday after being abused on the social network site ask.fm.

Dave Smith has accused the website owners of not caring that “teenagers are dying and killing theirselves”.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror in his first on-camera interview since Hannah’s death, Mr Smith said: “The people that run it should get done for manslaughter or murder because you try contacting them and they don’t care.

“These websites should be got rid of, if nothing else they need to be regulated and they need to stop people from doing this.

Hannah and her best friend Georgia Clarke (R)

“If David Cameron was sitting here now I would want to know why he hasn’t done something about this six, 12 – two years ago. Modern technology has gone on but the laws have stuck the same.”

Ask.fm allows users to post anonymous questions and messages but has been criticised for not doing enough after several other teenagers took their lives – apparently after receiving abuse on the site.

Hannah committed suicide after repeated messages encouraging her to kill herself and criticising her appearance.

Mr Smith and Hannah’s stepmother Deborah said people needed to think more about the effect of their online posts as it emerged their elder daughter Jo has also been the target of abuse on the site.

“How could you?”, Mrs Smith said. “People need to stop and think. You can’t just sit behind a keyboard and type something and think that doesn’t matter. There’s a complete lack of emotional intelligence.”

Mr Smith added: “There’s something not right with the world today that people can tell someone to die so many times that they actually do it.”

David Smith with elder daughter Jo

He described his younger daughter was a “bubbly person” and a “pleasure to be around” and revealed he had intervened in the past to stop her being bullied at school.

He also said, on the night before she died, Hannah had told him: “Goodnight Dad, I love you.”

“I was 50 miles away in a lorry,” said Mr Smith, describing how he found out about her death.

“My brother turned round to me and said ‘Hannah’s hung herself’ and I said ‘is she dead?’, and he said ‘yeah’. I just broke down and turned the lorry round as fast as I could to get back.”

Kiran, another youngster who has suffered cyberbullying, told Sky News: “I felt like I was drowning, like I was sinking because all these words were coming in and I had pressures from exams and everything was building up and the cyberbullying really got to me.

“I thought I had people there to help me and support me and actually my own peers were not there to support me they were pushing me down.”

He added: “There were times when I felt I didn’t want to be here any more.”

The Prime Minister promised the Government would look at any action it can take to stop future tragedies like Hannah’s death, which he called “an absolutely appalling case”.

He also said: “The people that operate these websites have to step up to the plate and show some responsibility.

“There’s something all of us as parents and users of the internet can do and that is not use some of these vile sites: boycott them, don’t go there, don’t join them.”

And he warned that people online were not above the law and could be punished for inciting anyone to do harm or become violent.

Ask.fm, based in Latvia, has called Hannah’s death a “true tragedy” and said it is cooperating with Leicestershire Police’s investigation.

In a statement the site said it actively “encourages users and their parents to report any incidences of bullying”, either by using the in-site reporting button, or via the website’s 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 statement added.

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