Teenager Killed Suicide After Spending Hours Online At School Reading About Suicide


David Cross, a computer expert who supplies software to schools in Surrey, told the coroner that schools are currently receiving “very vague guidelines” from the DfE on how to set up and keep filtering systems working.

The court heard that on the day of Frankie’s death in September 2018, she spent two hours unsupervised on a school iPad and searched a number of stories on Wattpad about her favorite band, Green Day.

When she returned home later that day, the teenager committed suicide in her bedroom in Witley, Surrey, in the same manner as described in the last story she read.

Coroner criticizes Wattpad

Ms Henderson criticized Wattpad, a Canada-based tech company, noting that it only had 600 moderators checking out inappropriate content in more than a billion articles.

She said: “I am satisfied that there has been a lack of robustness in the [Wattpad’s] policies to remove age-inappropriate content that allowed Frankie to read on their platform stories about members of her favorite group engaging in suicide acts, which she subsequently committed herself.

Wattpad declined to participate in the investigation, citing “financial consequences” if he were to instruct British lawyers.

After the verdict, the coroner praised Frankie’s “dedicated” parents for the “extraordinary” efforts they had put into caring for their daughter, who had a number of developmental issues.

Following the investigation, Ms Thomas, 63, asked schools to have their screening systems assessed by Ofsted so parents can see if their children would be safe online.

She added: “A school can have a nice Ofsted report, but if a parent knew it wasn’t hot to check (internet filters), you wouldn’t dream of sending your child there.”

Following the verdict, Merry Varney, partner of the Leigh Day attorneys who represented the Thomases, said: “Frankie should never have been left unattended and able to access graphics at school and the evidence heard. during the investigation showed a real need for the ministry. for Education to consider whether its advice on online safety is robust and specific enough.

A government spokesperson said: “This tragic case highlights the vital importance of protecting children, but especially the most vulnerable, from harmful content online, both at home and at school. .

“Schools have a legal obligation to keep their students safe and our statutory protection guidelines explain in detail how we expect them to protect students from potentially harmful online content, such as content on suicide or self-harm.

“All children and young people also learn about online safety as part of the new compulsory relationship, sex and health education curriculum, as well as through citizenship and IT, and the project The government’s online safety law will propose groundbreaking new laws that ensure tech companies prevent children from accessing self-harm and suicide content that may cause them harm. “

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