Principal Warns Parents Against Social Media Site

11-year-old student said someone posted harmful messages on Ask.fm

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7 reporter Artie Ojeda talks to 11-year-old Allison Rose about a site that cause principal Heidi Lyon at Standley Middle School in University City to warn parents about its negative aspects. (Published Thursday, May 23, 2013)

    A local middle school principal is putting out a blunt warning to parents to be on the lookout for a social media website gaining popularity with students called Ask.fm.

    The site, said Standley Middle School principal Heidi Lyon, has no safeguards against "highly sexualized, abusive, and downright nasty messages."      

    An 11-year-old girl said that someone on the Ask.fm site posted a message that said she should kill herself.

    “All of the people that I hung out with don't like me, and they all hated me and I should kill myself,” said sixth grader Allison Rose.

    Rose said it made her feel sad and her parents said the anonymous post was painfully mean-spirited.

    “It's horrible to think that somebody could feel that angry towards your child and that somebody would say things and would want them to kill themselves, that's the worst thing you could imagine,” said her mother Elizabeth Rose.

    The premise of the website is pretty simple. Users sign up and ask others any question they want.

    Pictures and video messages go uncensored.

    “Very hateful comments are made, highly sexualized comments are made, students are told to kill themself, to commit suicide, the world doesn't want them,” said Lyon.

    The Standley Middle School principal sent out a strongly worded letter to parents about social media. She said parents may be aware of Facebook and Twitter, but she wants parents to be aware of sites like Ask.fm where messages are posted anonymously.

    Lyon also asked students to close their accounts.

    “When it comes to the internet, when it comes to on-line behavior, many of our parents don't know and understand the dangers because they aren't on there themselves,” she said.

    Allison says she was confused by the post and doesn't know why anyone would want to say such mean things to her.

    “I felt bad for the person because they obviously have some problems and I don't know anyone that hates me that much,” she said.

    Ask.fm has not yet responded to an NBC 7 email about this story,

    The site does list safety tips asking users to tell adults if you're being targeted and a warning that they have the option to report abuse and identifying information to law enforcement if necessary.

    But users have found that it does not stop many troubling posts.