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Hannah's school 'not aware' of bullying claims

Hannah Smith's headteacher told the inquest today that the school was not aware of claims the teenager was being bullied, ITV Central's Rajiv Popat reports.

Father: Hannah's behaviour changed after 'attack'

Hannah's father David (centre) carrying the coffin following her funeral last year. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

Hannah Smith's father earlier told an inquest the teenager was bullied before her death - including one incident when "had her head smashed against a wall" at a party.

At the hearing at Leicester Town Hall, her father David Smith said his daughter had been bullied for some time and that he believed her eczema had been the reason she was targeted, adding that she would try to avoid getting changed in front of classmates.

Mr Smith said that, after the attack, "her behaviour seemed to change" from that of a "bubbly, happy" person to a more introverted young girl.

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Teen 'likely to have posted bullying messages herself'

Police have told an inquest into 14-year-old Hannah Smith's death that the teenager may have posted abusive online messages to herself before she was found hanged in her bedroom.

Hannah's parents say the teenager was regularly bullied on website Ask.fm before she took her own life in August last year.

But Detective Sergeant Wayne Simmons, of Leicestershire Police, said that on the "balance of probabilities" the "vile" messages about Hannah on the social media site were posted by the teenager herself in the run-up to her death.

Bullied girl's dad: Government must regulate all internet

David Smith, whose 14-year-old daughter Hannah was found dead in her bedroom earlier this month, described Ask.fm's new measures as "a good thing".

But he said that in making changes, the site had "admitted that their website was dangerous for teenagers."

"It's now time for the Government to step up and start regulating these websites so that a 45-year-old lorry driver doesn't have to do it, because I haven't got time to do it any more," he added.

"It's not just Ask.fm, it's the whole internet. The Government actually do need step up and start regulating this internet to make the internet a safer place."

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Ask.fm changes 'won't solve online bullying'

NSPCC safer technology expert Claire Lilley said: "However, these changes alone are not going to solve the problem of online bullying. And, while they are being implemented, children and young people are likely to continue to suffer.

"Parents can help by having regular conversations with their children about what is and isn't OK online, and encourage them to seek help if they are being bullied, blackmailed or see anything that upsets them.

"It's important that young people know that if they need somebody to talk to, they can call ChildLine on 0800 1111."

Charity welcomes Ask.fm changes but parents have role

Children's charity Action for Children welcomed the steps taken by Ask.fm today, saying they could not come "soon enough".

Matt Downie, head of campaigns and public affairs, said: "To have the ability to report abuse - which must be made clear - and have all cases looked into within a 24-hour window will help to address what young people are facing on a daily basis.

"We hope that the dedicated site Ask.fm has pledged to create will help parents understand how young people are communicating with each other, and that this becomes best practice for all social networking sites.

"It's important that parents talk to their children about their online experiences, to understand who they are contacting and what activities they are engaged in.

"As part of this they should continue to discuss what risks there are online and how they can be addressed."

Ask.fm promises new 'report button' by September

Ask.fm said an updated function for reporting abuse would be live by September 2013 but that new moderation staff would not be in place until January 2014.

• The amend to the report button and additional category will be completed and live on the site by September 2013.

• New members of the moderation team (including the Safety Officer) will be in place by January 2014.

• The button allowing users to opt-out of receiving anonymous questions will be more prominent and accessible by October 2013.

– Ask.fm statement

Ask.fm to create help website for users' parents

Ask.fm founders Ilja and Mark Terebin said they would create a new website for parents of its users to help them understand the site's functions and moderation policy.

We will create a separate website from the social network to act as an informational resource for parents and others.

This website, besides containing our policies on safety, privacy and moderation (amongst others) will also set out Ask.fm's purpose and values, up to date contact information for the company and the continuing work we will be doing to improve our site.

The site will be live in Spring 2014.

– Ilja and Mark Terebin
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