Headteacher begs parents to delete controversial anonymous messaging app Sarahah on children’s phones after schoolgirl, 12, becomes latest victim of vile texts calling her a ‘s**t’ and a ‘b***h’
- Keira Preston, 12, has suffered nasty bullying through anonymous app Sarahah
- It allows people to leave reviews and contact others without revealing identities
- Headteacher of Keira’s school in Cardiff is urging youngsters not to download it
Despite the bullying in school dying down, year-seven-pupil Keira Prestonh has since become the focus of nasty messages sent via the app
A headteacher is urging youngsters not to download an anonymous messaging app after one of his pupils suffered a campaign of horrific bullying.
Janine Hann said her daughter has been targeted by bullies since she joined Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff in September of last year.
But despite the bullying in school dying down, the year-seven-pupil has since become the focus of nasty messages sent via the app.
One user sent a message called her a ‘b***h’, a ‘s**t’ and ‘disgusting’.
The mother-of-two said: ‘It’s just heartbreaking. She’s a really shy and kind-hearted girl.
‘She was struggling a bit when she first started high school and was falling behind but teachers just said that was down to her being a bit immature for her age and struggling with the adjustment.
‘Some girls started to bully her and it’s been going on ever since she started. I’ve had meetings with the parents and one of the girls did apologise.
‘But now it’s moved onto cyberbullying. She comes home from school and it continues.’
Sarahah is a controversial app that hit the headlines when other teens became victims of bullying.
Janine Hann, left, said her daughter Keira Preston, right, has been targeted by bullies since she joined Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff in September of last year
The app – which was originally designed for customers to send anonymous comments to businesses – was a hit in the Middle East and has since grown in popularity across Europe.
It allows users to send each other anonymous messages to each other.
According to the website, ‘Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner’.
However, in February Sarahah – which means honesty in Arabic – was kicked off Apple’s App Store and Google Play on Android devices.
The app allows users to send messages anonymously and other pupils are using it to bully the 12-year-old
Despite deleting the app, some of Keira’s peers have started taking screenshots of the comments and sending them to her.
Ms Hann, 33, continued: ‘It’s just disgusting that people Keira’s age are using language like that.
‘It’s terrible and it’s like they’re tormenting her. Some messages have used the C-word, others are saying she’s ugly and that nobody likes her.
They’ve called her a b***h and a s**t. Some of her friends are even being targeted for being friends with her.
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‘One girl said she was too scared to be friends with Keira because she didn’t want to get bullied.’
Ms Hann said the bullying intensified when it moved on to the app because they can hide behind a screen.
She has since set up a petition to have anonymity features on social media banned and has smashed her target of 800 signatures.
Cruel bullies are using the app to send nasty messages to people anonymously
The severity of the bullying has prompted headteacher Huw Powell to call on pupils not to download Sarahah
The severity Keira’s bullying has prompted headteacher Huw Powell (left) to call on pupils not to download Sarahah
Head teacher Huw Powell also expressed concern and is urging pupils not to use it.
He said the school will support any student who feels threatened or bullied.
‘It’s constant,’ continued Ms Hann. ‘We went for a meal for her birthday and she was so happy. I said ‘nobody is going to take that smile off her face again’ but then we got home and it started again.’
Pupils at Mary Immaculate High School in Cardiff, Wales, are being urged not to download the anonymous dating app
‘The bullying has completely knocked her confidence,’ she continued. ‘She’s crying a lot and sometimes she has to sleep in my bed. She’s so nervous, sometimes I have to run down the road to meet her when she’s walking home from school.
‘She’s such a lovely girl. It’s making me emotional just to think about it all.
‘She’s deleted the app and I know some people will tell me to take away her phone but she needs it in case she needs to get in contact with me and then if I do take it away, the bullies have won.’
What is Sarahah and how does it work?
Users have no way of knowing who sent the message or how to reply to them
Designed to let users send and receive honest feedback it is meant to help people discover their strengths and weaknesses
The app, created by developer ZainAlabdin Tawfiq from Saudi Arabia, was top of Apple’s App Store for weeks in dozens of countries including the UK after it was first released in June last year.
Designed to let users send and receive honest feedback it is meant to help people discover their strengths and weaknesses.
‘Sarahah helps you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner’, the app description explains.
The messages appear in a feed where they can be favourited, blocked and deleted without the sender knowing
Once users have downloaded the app, they set up an account to start receiving messages.
The messages appear in a feed where they can be favourited, blocked and deleted without the sender knowing.
Users have no way of knowing who sent the message or how to reply to them.
Head teacher Huw Powell said: ‘The school takes bullying of any kind seriously, whether in school or out, and we are deeply concerned about this app and the effect it may have on our pupils.
‘The app has an age guide of 17 plus.
‘It is an anonymous app used by people all over the world which makes finding those responsible extremely difficult, but we do know that Google and Android removed it from their app stores following complaints of school children experiencing bullying.
‘We are advising all our students to delete the app if they have it.
‘The company behind it make clear it is not aimed at teenagers or young people, but clearly people of all ages were able to download it in the past.
‘We will continue to look into this matter and will support any student who feels threatened or bullied.
‘We will also remind our students about the things they can do to stay safe online.
‘The care and pastoral support we offer our young people is highly-regarded and pupils have been trained in dealing with online issues.
Sarahah have been contacted for comment
It comes after 14-year-old Jazzminn Chester, of Grimsby, spoke of the ‘disgusting’ messages she received over Sarahah – telling her to ‘cut herself to death’ and ‘just do people a favour and commit.’
She said: ‘I have been getting an awful lot of abuse and threats, but it is not just me, it is happening to everyone, nearly everyone I know in the town is on Sarahah.
‘In my past I have had problems with self-harm and mental health, and if my mother wasn’t here to support me I don’t know what might have happened as these messages really hurt you.
‘I also know that a lot of people who get messages like this can bury their heads in the sand and not tell anyone, and that is when real problems can arise, and I just want people to be aware, because if it can stop one person doing something tragic it will be worth it.’
Jazzminn’s mother said she was shocked when she was told of the type of abuse her daughter was getting, and worried that other children in the community could be facing the same issues.
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