TOLD she deserves to die, threatened with violence and subjected to a torrent of vile sexual insults – that’s the price a north Northumberland girl has paid for posting a home-made music video to a popular social media website.
The 15-year-old – who the Gazette has agreed not to identify – has been living a nightmare since uploading the two-minute clip to YouTube, only to be targeted with an endless tirade of sick abuse from users around the world.
While many poked fun at her naive use of London street slang, others went much further, making sexually-explicit slurs and threats.
Some of the comments are believed to have come from fellow pupils at her school.
And despite deleting the video, it has since gone viral after a handful of viewers downloaded and reposted it with their own mocking messages. There are now at least four copies circulating on YouTube, totalling almost a million views between them.
The teenager’s mother said: “She was silly for uploading it, but she did it without us knowing. She deleted it but other people have uploaded it. Her dad contacted YouTube in California and they found four hosts and gave them 48 hours to delete it, but to no avail.
“I was horrified to read those comments. It shocked me at how evil people can be. Some were telling her to kill herself and that she deserved to die.
“Kids at her school have now seen it and she’s had to put up with a lot of abuse there too. It has got to the point that I have threatened to take her out of school, as she is so unhappy.
“I have rang the school three times, as I can’t do anything about the ones hiding behind their email addresses.”
She added: “I know the school’s hands are tied and they’re doing what they can, but she’s getting it from all sides. She doesn’t want to go to school, but she’s due to do her GCSEs this year so it’s a critical time. I’m just distraught.
“At the end of the day, she’s a 15-year-old child. She should not be subjected to this kind of abuse, either at school or online. I’d urge all parents to be vigilant and warn their children about what can happen when they put something like this on the internet, however innocent or harmless it may seem.”
Det Sgt Alan Batey of Northumbria Police’s Computer Crime Unit said: “The internet is an essential tool and social networking sites are a popular way for young people to communicate, but it’s vital they stay safe online and know how to use it responsibly.
“Unfortunately, putting something up online, which may not have been a carefully considered decision, can become permanent and seen by people across the world.
“We would advise people not to put any personal details online, including photographs and videos, which are then there to be seen by everyone, including potential criminals.
“Parents should talk to their children about their use of the internet, and there are also IT solutions available which enable parents to monitor what their children are doing online. If parents are worried in any way, they should contact police.”
The problem of cyber-bullying was brought into sharp focus this week by the BBC in a Panorama documentary, which showed how callous internet users had mercilessly targeted children as young as 11 on social networking sites.
In one tragic case, a 15-year-old girl from Worcester, who became the victim of an online hate campaign, threw herself in front of a train. Even in the hours and days following her death, sick comments were posted to tribute sites, to the horror of her bereaved family.
Richard Piggin, of charity Beatbullying, said: “Our research shows that cyber-bullying, online bullying, is relatively common. A large number of children receive abusive, vicious messages, have comments posted about them online, have hate pages set up about them online and to some this happens relentlessly over a period of months and months.”