Online trolls who prey on grieving parents
THE internet can be a wonderful thing. It can also be terrible in ways many can't imagine. As part of a global online community, we have the power to uplift and support each other, especially as parents. However that very same power can also tear someone down and destroy them.
They've been through enough
Who remembers Alby Davis, who choked on a small rubber ball and passed away in his mother's arms just days before his fourth birthday?
That experience should be enough to make a parent automatically exempt from all further heartache. Without exception.
But not according to internet trolls.
Alby's mother, Anna Davi, shared an image to her Instagram stories to shine a light on what the grieving family have to deal with on a daily basis.
"Trolling comments and DMs are now part of our daily lives"
"I can't even begin to fathom the sadness and hurt this person must have experienced in their lifetime, to feel the desire to intensify our family's heart ache for the sake of their amusement," Anna captioned along side the image of the private message she had been sent.
"Trolling comments and DMs are now part of our daily lives, and I can usually dig deep, and find the strength to move on from such hatred, but this one impacted me deeply, and many more tears than usual have fallen today."
When you read the message she is referring to, it's hard to understand how any human being could have sent such a thing, to anyone, let alone to a mother who is grieving the tragic loss of a child.
The message said: "You should name your next child Choking" and was punctuated with a laughing face emoji.
It's not the first, and it won't be the last
Not even a year ago, Catherine and Greg Hughes spoke with Kidspot about online abuse they deal with on a regular basis. Their newborn son, Riley, lost his battle against whooping cough at just 32 days old. Riley was too young to be vaccinated at the time, and his brave parents went on to do wonderful things for vaccination awareness in Australia.
It was partly due to the tireless work of the Hughes family that the whooping cough vaccine will be added to the national immunisation program from July this year.
But those achievements have also come at a cost to the Hughes family.
"It was less than 24 hours after we said goodbye to our baby that we started receiving nasty messages from the anti-vaccination movement, and it still happens to this day, three years later," Greg told Kidspot.
The Hughes family have been accused of making it all up, including their son, Riley, for the sake of 'big pharma'. They have been accused of being actors, and they have been called 'child-killers' for encouraging people to vaccinate. A Facebook page was set up to discredit them both personally and the tireless work they put into vaccination awareness.
We should be thanking them, not spitting hate into their lives.
"It's disgusting that people can put their desire to push their beliefs ahead of basic human decency," Greg said, and we can't agree more.
Greg spoke about the devastation he would see on Catherine's face as she read various online messages shortly after Riley's death. They both stand firm in their belief, and Greg and Catherine will continue to speak out in favour of vaccination and not let the trolls affect them.
"We chose not to value what they say so their abuse means very little to us," Greg said.
What makes people do this?
I wish I could answer that question myself too, because I really fear for the future of my children if this is the sort of world they are growing up in.
If you've written words of hate towards anyone over the internet, stop and think about what it is that you're doing. You don't know what their mental state is like, or what else is going on in their lives.
But the people who have knowingly trolled bereaved parents need to take a long, hard look at themselves.
Those parents are trying their hardest to recover from something NOBODY ever wants to go through. Who is ANYONE to make that worse?
This story originally appeared in Kidspot and has been republished with permission.