Due to the increased use of the Internet and social networking sites, bullying has moved beyond school halls and playgrounds into homes all around the world. Cyberbullying occurs when one individual threatens, harasses or attempts to intimidate another person through online sources such as email or other types of messages.
Parents and victims of cyberbullying can take these four simple steps when a problem arises.
Record the Cyberbullying Incident
Responding to cyberbullies usually only makes the situation worse. Instead of responding, victims and their parents should carefully document each action and comment from cyberbullies.
Most email programs and social networking sites also let users block other users from contacting them again. Depending on the severity and frequency of the bullying, the social networking site may ban the person from using the site or place the individual’s account on probation.
Contact Service Providers
Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other providers have adopted policies to ban cyberbullying. Therefore, it is important to immediately contact service providers and report details of the harassment.
Many companies will take steps to address the problem and warn the individual or outright ban the IP address associated with the account involved in the bullying incident. Providers will often ask parents to show any documentation or evidence of the incidents, including harassing emails or threatening messages posted via a social networking site.
Contact Law Enforcement
Certain types of cyberbullying break federal and state laws. If the bullying escalates to threats, the the harassment may violate the law.
Using the Internet to commit a hate crime or stalk someone is another violation of the law. Other crimes include sexual harassment or violating someone’s privacy. In these cases, parents or guardians should contact the police or local law enforcement for help.
Federal law also bans the manufacturing, possession or distribution of child pornography, which refers to nude photographs or photographs that depict a sexual act of anyone under the age of 18.
Talk to the School
School faculty should know about cyberbullying incidents to prevent further incidences on campus.
Online harassment can often lead to harassment at home or in school. Many states have adopted new laws that require schools to have policies on cyberbullying.
If a school has a zero-tolerance bullying policy, then a student who bullies another student online may face expulsion. The school may also take steps to separate the two children or punish the bullying student.