Mother urges sites to name cyber-bullies
The mother of a teenager who took his own life wants social media sites to be obliged to provide gardai with information that will identify people who post abusive messages.
Elaine Hughes says that although the garda investigation into her son's death has closed, she feels it cannot be truly concluded until the people who “bullied” her son on Facebook have been held to account.
Ms Hughes' son Darren Hughes Gibson (17) died in August 2012 in Balbriggan and although she has been able to access his Facebook page, the coroner only saw the abusive messages he had been subjected to days before his inquest in March.
She has been in touch with other families who lost a child through suicide and who claimed they had been bullied on social media prior to their deaths.
Dutch police this week arrested a man they believe targeted the Canadian teen, Amanda Todd, prior to her death in 2012.
Since her suicide, anti-cyber-bullying legislation has been passed in Canada.
“On the day Darren was found we started to hear the rumours but unfortunately most of them turned out to be true,” Ms Hughes told the Herald.
She said her son had received sinister posts from people on Facebook threatening to break his legs or hurt members of his family.
“Family was everything to Darren,” she said.
She said she had no idea at the time this had been going on and has warned parents to be vigilant about what their children get up to on social media.
“I feel social media sites need to be taken more seriously. It's every day of every week we hear that someone is missing and they're getting younger and younger,” Ms Hughes said.
She said Darren's three younger siblings had been left devastated by his death and although it will be two years this August, there are constant reminders about the older brother they lost.
“You can't just ban them from going on social media sites either. With phones and everything they will find a way if they want to get on it.
“I think these sites should be legally obliged to share this information,” she said.