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'Troll-hunting' grandmother says cyber bullying is getting worse

Sandy spends her days helping teenagers who receive online abuse and tipping off police about the people who are doing it. Photo: ITV News

A grandmother from Devon has a most unusual hobby: she describes herself as a troll hunter, tracking down cyber bullies.

Sandy spends her days helping teenagers who receive online abuse and tipping off police about the people who are doing it.

There has been a huge increase in cyber bulling, even in the two years I've been doing this.

It's just escalating, it's going to get bigger."

– Sandy, "troll hunter"

COMMUNITY SHAKEN BY SUICIDE

Sandy's unusual hobby has its roots in tragedy. Just over two years ago, the community of Torbay was shaken when fourteen year-old Izzy Dix took her own life. She was targeted online and her mother, Gabbi, says that’s why she killed herself.

Credit: Devon & Cornwall Police

Sandy's own family felt the cruel effects of online abuse, after her granddaughter tried to take her own life.

My granddaughter had been a victim of cyber bullying, went to the same school as Izzy, and it so easily could have been her

– Sandy, 'troll hunter'

Sandy wanted to help, and became involved in the Izzy Dix Memorial Page on Facebook.

In the years that have followed, the memorial page has transformed into a helpline for other teenagers on the verge of self harming.

Izzy Dix Memorial Page Credit: Facebook

Sandy runs the page from her home in Brixham. She says she’s disgusted by what she sees:

The way it's dealt with at the moment is like putting a plaster over a gaping hole.

– Sandy, "troll hunter"

'IT'S JUST HORRIBLE' - TEEN SPEAKS OUT ABOUT A GROWING PROBLEM

One teenager who spoke to us, and chose to remain anonymous, told of her experience being bullied, when someone hacked into her account and began impersonating her online.

Everywhere I went I had to look at people staring at me, and watching what I was doing. My friends had family who had died of cancer, and they would say things like 'Just go join them'.

Everyone hated me, and I didn't want to be around people.

– Anon, victim of online abuse

WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE BEING BULLIED ONLINE

  • TELL someone - whether that's a parent, carer, teacher or friend
  • REPORT it - use the 'report' buttons which you can often see on social media website

Click to hear some advice from the head of Devon and Cornwall’s High Tech Crime Unit:

You can watch the full report below: