Bullies torment via new website

HIGH school students are viciously tormenting each other, including advice to commit suicide, through a new social networking website which has exploded in popularity.

Formspring, found online at www.formspring.me, is the new Twitter, according to Ipswich high school students who have joined the site because it allows users to post anonymous comments.

But the anonymity has led to brutal bullying.

On one 15-year-old Ipswich girl's page, an anonymous person wrote earlier this week “my advice to you... take a razor and kill yourself”.

Another young Ipswich Year 12 student was told she was a “disgusting, dog-faced slut” among other derogative comments.

The Year 12 girl, who did not wish to be named, said she was upset by the comments but said her friends had received worse, including her cousin who was also told on the site she should end her life.

“When my cousin read that she was really upset,” the student said.

“I had to reassure her for ages that it was just rubbish. She couldn't believe someone would hate her so much.”

Formspring is simply the new spot for teenagers to exchange gossip, but because of the anonymity, the comments are of the harshest nature.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, Formspring users share personal information by answering questions asked anonymously.

A user cannot put their own status update on the page, they must respond to others.

The site has already been linked as the cause of one suicide.

In March this year, Alexis Pilkington, a 17-year-old New York high school graduate, committed suicide after dozens of insulting comments about her had been posted on Formspring.

“The gossipy stuff can be fun, but some people go way too far and I'm worried for the insecure girls who would take it to heart,” the Year 12 girl said.

“Some of my friends at school have had some really horrific things said about them on the site, and then at school everyone thinks it's true.

Senior psychologist from the Ipswich and West Moreton Psychology Clinic, Dr Rana Woodward, said the comments on the site could lead to teenaged girls self-harming.

“Teenagers today do not have the same sense of boun- daries and are not concerned about privacy and sharing information,” she said.

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