Mother tells how girl's Snapchat posts led to cyberbullying torment
Teenagers warned about risks of sharing information online after 14-year-old's ordeal.
A mother has told of how her daughter became a cyberbullying victim after sharing images on social media with a boy in her class.
When the 14-year-old's attitude deteriorated over the course of several months, her mother put it down to medication the teenager was taking at the time.
It emerged the girl was being tormented by schoolmates over nude photographs she had taken of herself and sent to a fellow pupil.
The Snapchat images were circulated among classmates, with the victim reaching an emotional breaking point when she told her mother and the police what had happened.
In an interview with STV News, the girl's mother, speaking anonymously, explained the photographs she had originally sent to a 13-year-old boy at the school, soon worked their way into the possession of a girl in the year above who was bullying her.
She said: "This was a boy that had persuaded her over a year and built her confidence up - the summer before he asked for pictures of her in a bikini, I saw the messages.
"Then one of the days I was sitting beside her I saw a male part on her phone and I was horrified that this would happen.
"My daughter convinced me it was a spam - I don't know much about technology so I believed her."
She added: "But it later came out that it was the boy sending her pictures to gain her confidence and let her see it was OK to send nudes.
"She didn't hang about with him it was just through Facebook and her phone, texts and things like that.
"I knew the boy, I saw him on a daily basis going in and out of school, and again I didn't think there was anything untoward."
The images were circulated among other pupils at her school, during which time the bully repeatedly tormented her, as well as further disseminating the images.
Her mother said: "The bullying was getting worse and she clearly couldn't cope with it. She was going into school and the girl didn't stick to the school timetable so she could be wandering the corridors and see my daughter when she wasn't supposed to.
"My daughter was worried she would come up against her and as I say, when the bullying get worse, that's when my daughter shared the bullying with me - she never told me anything else, it was the female officers that got that out of her."
She added: "I honestly think she never in a million years thought they would go anywhere other than the boy.
"I don't know if she was trying to impress the boy, I imagine at that age that's what she was trying to do, but she's quite a clever girl. I honestly would never have believed she would do that."
The girl's mother intervened after seeing the toll the bullying was taking on her daughter, raising the alarm with police.
It was during an interview with officers that the victim revealed the images being shared among her classmates on social media were at the heart of her ordeal.
Her mother explained: "The girl who was bullying [my daughter] - any time somebody challenged her about it she would send them a copy of the pictures so instead of it going away it was escalating worse than it already had been.
"Emotions were rolled into one: I was frustrated, angry, hurt. I couldn't believe it. I had [my daughter] up on a pedestal because she was such a lovely girl and intelligent."
She added: "I had warned her and told her about things like this. As a parent I thought I had instilled right from wrong so I thought if somebody had asked her for pictures she would have said no.
"It makes you feel a bit worthless yourself, how you've got them at that age but then think you don't really know them."
In the wake of her daughter's experience, the mother has warned other teenagers of the risks of cyberbullying and sharing information online.
Secondary pupils from East Renfrewshire heard the story at a conference in Hampden Park on Wednesday.
The event was part of the Be Smart programme, which is run by Police Scotland in conjunction with global cyber security giant Trend Micro.
"I would say to [teenager girls] never put yourself in a compromising position," the mother said.
"But I would also say to the boys, please don't ask girls to send you pictures because that's just as important.
"I don't know if I'd have said that before, maybe I'd have just blamed girls, but then when I saw the messages and the trust that was built up I would say to girls don't compromise yourself."
She added: "If [parents] feel something's not right, it's definitely not right. I knew something wasn't right but we had another issue going on with her but I did know something wasn't right.
"Call it a sixth sense but there was something at the back of the mind telling me, and asking why somebody would start bullying my daughter.
"I honestly don't know what I could have done different - I thought we were close enough that if she had a major problem she could come to me and talk about it.
"That was a shock that she couldn't share it with me or her sister - that's heartbreaking."