Shy schoolgirl, 12, tormented by horrific messages on anonymous messaging app
A shy schoolgirl has been "tormented" by horrific messages on an anonymous messaging app with cruel users calling her names such as a "b***h", a "sl*t" and "disgusting".
Keira Preston, 12, was bullied when she first started high school, her mum says, but it has since moved onto controversial online platform Sarahah .
"Some messages have used the C-word, others are saying she’s ugly and that nobody likes her," Janine Hann said, speaking of what her daughter has been through.
Janine, from Caerau, Wales, said her girl has been targeted by high school bullies since she joined Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff in September of last year.
But despite the bullying in school dying down, the year seven pupil has since become the focus of nasty messages sent via the app.
The mother-of-two told Wales Online : "It’s just heartbreaking. She’s a really shy and kind-hearted girl.
"She was struggling a bit when she first started high school and was falling behind but teachers just said that was down to her being a bit immature for her age and struggling with the adjustment.
"Some girls started to bully her and it’s been going on ever since she started. I’ve had meetings with the parents and one of the girls did apologise.
"But now it’s moved onto cyberbullying. She comes home from school and it continues."
Sarahah is a controversial app that hit the headlines when other teens became victims of bullying.
The app – which was originally designed for customers to send anonymous comments to businesses – was a hit in the Middle East and has since grown in popularity across Europe.
It allows users to send each other anonymous messages to each other.
According to the website, "Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner".
However, in February Sarahah – which means honesty in Arabic – was kicked off Apple’s App Store and Google Play on Android devices.
Despite deleting the app, some of Keira’s peers have started taking screenshots of the comments and sending them to her, her mum told.
Ms Hann, 33, continued: "It’s just disgusting that people Keira’s age are using language like that.
"It’s terrible and it’s like they’re tormenting her.
"They’ve called her a b***h and a sl*t. Some of her friends are even being targeted for being friends with her.
"One girl said she was too scared to be friends with Keira because she didn’t want to get bullied."
Ms Hann said the bullying intensified when it moved on to the app because they can hide behind a screen.
She has since set up a petition to have anonymity features on social media banned and has smashed her target of 800 signitures.
Head teacher Huw Powell also expressed concern and is urging pupils not to use it. He said the school will support any student who feels threatened or bullied.
"It’s constant," continued Ms Hann. "We went for a meal for her birthday and she was so happy. I said ‘nobody is going to take that smile off her face again’ but then we got home and it started again."
Ms Hann is calling on the developers of the app, and others like it, to disable the anonymity feature. She has since started a petition and it’s been signed by hundreds of other parents.
"The bullying has completely knocked her confidence," she continued.
"She’s crying a lot and sometimes she has to sleep in my bed. She’s so nervous, sometimes I have to run down the road to meet her when she’s walking home from school.
"She’s such a lovely girl. It’s making me emotional just to think about it all.
"She’s deleted the app and I know some people will tell me to take away her phone but she needs it in case she needs to get in contact with me and then if I do take it away, the bullies have won."
Head teacher Huw Powell said: "The school takes bullying of any kind seriously, whether in school or out, and we are deeply concerned about this app and the effect it may have on our pupils. The app has an age guide of 17 plus.
"It is an anonymous app used by people all over the world which makes finding those responsible extremely difficult, but we do know that Google and Android removed it from their app stores following complaints of school children experiencing bullying.
"We are advising all our students to delete the app if they have it.
"The company behind it make clear it is not aimed at teenagers or young people, but clearly people of all ages were able to download it in the past.
"We will continue to look into this matter and will support any student who feels threatened or bullied.
"We will also remind our students about the things they can do to stay safe online.
"The care and pastoral support we offer our young people is highly-regarded and pupils have been trained in dealing with online issues."
Mirror Online has contacted Sarahah for comment.
Source: Read Full Article