Lancaster parents fear Sarahah app is bullying tool
A mobile app which allows users to send anonymous comments is being used as a form of cyberbullying, claim parents.
Sarahah, an application available on Androids and iPhones, allows people to send anonymous comments to other users, with no way of the recipient replying or knowing who sent it to them.
Designed by a programmer in Saudi Arabia, the app has become popular across the UK with many youngsters and teens using it to give “anonymous feedback” to one another.
But the app, which can also be linked up to other social media accounts including Snapchat, is being used as platform for abusive messages, say some parents.
“She was being called ugly and fat and was sent the sick emoticon saying you look like that,” said Julie Moore, mum of Victoria, who attends Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy in Lancaster.
“She had messages telling her to ditch her boyfriend.”
Victoria, 12, was one of the victims to receive anonymous messages.
Two of her friends also received abusive comments.
“I think it is somebody who does know her, it was targeted at her and two of her friends,” said Julie.
“They were messaging all of them and the school was mentioned so I’m sure it was somebody from the school
“Whoever was doing it must have got fed up, but they started doing it to one of her friends and her mum has told her to delete the app.”
Victoria has had the app for five months and uses it to ask people’s opinions on various things including makeup and fashion.
“She is allowed to use it only because she does tell me things that go on,” said Julie.
“I have allowed her to stay on it because she didn’t seem to be bothered by it at the time.
“But if it would have carried on, I would have told her to delete it.
“Apparently she has lots of nice messages sent too. You open yourself up on it, but when you are young you don’t think of it like that I suppose.”
A number of parents have said they are reporting the app to Ripley school.
One parent said on Facebook: “Modern technology can be dangerous.
“I worry for the younger generation with all this media available 24/7.
“It’s a lot to manage on young shoulders.
“There needs to be tighter restrictions and more education on managing all the various media properly, it can have a negative impact on mental health.”
Martin Wood, headteacher at Ripley St Thomas C of E Academy, said: “We are aware of the Sarahah app which, whilst not new, is one of a number of anonymous apps that can be misused in this way.
“Unfortunately, the anonymous nature of the comments and the fact that they are made outside of school hours makes it almost impossible to identify those making them.
“Pupils are not allowed to use mobile phones in school time and apps of this nature are automatically blocked by the school’s internet firewall.
“We take any form of bullying, including cyberbullying, very seriously indeed.
“There is an extensive programme of support, advice and guidance provided for pupils across all year groups on how to stay safe online.
“This includes the safe and proper use of a range of mobile apps.
“I would strongly encourage any parents who are concerned to contact school without hesitation.”
A petition, which has attracted more than 166,000 signatures globally, is calling for the app to be banned.
A mum from Australia set up the petition after her 13-year-old daughter was sent a message on the app, telling her to kill herself.
The message read: “I hope she kills herself. Seriously nobody will care.” To sign the petition please visit www.change.org/p/app-store-google-play-ban-apps-like-sarahah-where-my-daughter-was-told-to-kill-herself.