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proud honour Mother who fought for Coco's Law after bullied daughter's suicide recognised with top award

'I'm never going to let Nicole be forgotten - through Coco's Law we will keep her legacy alive'

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Jackie Fox pictured on a bench in Courtown that is dedicated to her daughter, ’Coco’

Jackie Fox pictured on a bench in Courtown that is dedicated to her daughter, ’Coco’

Jackie Fox pictured on a bench in Courtown that is dedicated to her daughter, ’Coco’

The mother of Nicole ‘Coco’ Fox, who died by suicide after suffering relentless bullying, usually spends the day marking the anniversary of her death by sitting on a bench dedicated to her daughter, in Wexford, near where she lives.

Where I now live in Courtown, is just two minutes’ away from the beach,” Jackie says. “There is a little green there with some benches. And on one of the benches there is a plaque, for Nicole.

“It’s a nice spot, especially in the summer, and loads of people send me photographs of themselves sitting on the bench.

“Her anniversary is coming up, on January 20, and that’s another difficult day for me. But this year, I’m doing something different for her.

“Normally I would go down to the bench and sometimes the family would come down as well and we’d let go of some balloons."

However, this year Jackie will be awarded the Freedom of South Dublin County by the Mayor of South Dublin County Council in recognition of bringing in Coco’s Law on the anniversary of Nicole's death.

“I asked could the ceremony be held on January 20, just for Nicole, and I hope that she will be proud of me on that day.”

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Jackie Fox and her daughter Nicole

Jackie Fox and her daughter Nicole

Jackie Fox and her daughter Nicole

Jackie led a campaign for the enactment of new laws against online harassment – known as ‘Coco’s Law’ – after her 21-year-old daughter died by suicide in 2018 after she was bullied on social media.

Jackie said Nicole, who was affectionately known as Coco to friends and family, had been suffering from persistent online abuse since the age of 18.

The bullying had continued even after Nicole had attempted suicide in 2016.

Jackie said that since the new anti-bullying law was enacted in February of this year, parents now have legal support for teenagers who are being targeted.

“Unfortunately, when my Nicole was going through it, there was no legislation and it wasn’t a criminal offence because there was no law, but there is now,” she told the Sunday World previously.

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Jackie Fox started a campaign to have a new law to punish cyber bullies after ‘Coco’ died by suicide

Jackie Fox started a campaign to have a new law to punish cyber bullies after ‘Coco’ died by suicide

Jackie Fox started a campaign to have a new law to punish cyber bullies after ‘Coco’ died by suicide

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The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill also, referred to as ‘Coco’s Law’, was passed by President Michael D Higgins on December 28, 2020.

Coco’s Law outlaws a wide range of offences, including online abuse, cyber- bullying and image-based abuse.

Under the new bill, if there is ‘intent to cause harm’, the offence carries an unlimited fine or a prison sentence of up to seven years. If there is no intent to cause harm, the same offence will be punishable by a maximum penalty of €5,000 or 12 months’ imprisonment.

When it was enacted on February 10 of last year, it created new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.

Jackie is to be recognised for her efforts with a ceremony in Tallaght, where she is originally from.

“It will be a bitter-sweet day,” she added, “but I decided that if I was going to accept it, I wanted it on Nicole’s anniversary, so she could be included in it, because it’s about her as much as me.”

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31/12/2021 Pictured is Jackie Fox who lives in Courtown, Co. Wexford who's daughter Nicole "Coco" passed away in 2018. Jackie is pictured at a bench with her daughters name on it . Picture: Patrick Browne

31/12/2021 Pictured is Jackie Fox who lives in Courtown, Co. Wexford who's daughter Nicole "Coco" passed away in 2018. Jackie is pictured at a bench with her daughters name on it . Picture: Patrick Browne

31/12/2021 Pictured is Jackie Fox who lives in Courtown, Co. Wexford who's daughter Nicole "Coco" passed away in 2018. Jackie is pictured at a bench with her daughters name on it . Picture: Patrick Browne

Jackie is still on a mission to get the word out about Coco’s Law as there are still people who are unaware that it exists.

“I don’t think anybody has been convicted under Coco’s Law yet, but there are cases before the DPP, where it will be used,” she said.

“And I’m getting more and more calls now from people about it as word gets out. And it’s getting bigger. As well as the bullying there is the sharing of intimate images that I’m getting a lot of calls, particularly, from schools about.”

Jackie said she found this Christmas very difficult, as it was one of Nicole’s favourite times of the year, but she says her relentless campaigning keeps her going.

“I go into schools and colleges as well as Youthreach centres, where I talk about Nicole and bullying and the devastation that suicide causes. I tell them to be careful about what they say to each other. I have talks lined up all through January, February and March that are all booked out.

“I talk in the schools and then every single person there goes home knowing who Nicole is. But the number of people I come across who are still unaware of Coco’s Law proves there is a lot more work to be done.

“If bullying doesn’t directly affect you, if it’s not on your doorstep, then you may not be fully aware of the issue and how many people are affected by it. So that’s why it is important that we keep getting the word out.

“I’m never going to let Nicole be forgotten,” she adds, “and through Coco’s Law we will keep her legacy alive.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the Samaritans for free on 116 123

Update: It was originally reported Ms Fox was getting the Freedom of the Dublin City, in fact, she is to receive is the Freedom of South Dublin County from the Mayor of South Dublin County Council (Cllr Peter Kavanagh)

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