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Tech Tips from our IT Department: Cyberbullying | Credit Union 08/02/2016

Cyberbullying refers to practice of using technology to harass, or bully, someone else. Bullies used to be restricted to methods such as physical intimidation, postal mail, or the telephone. Now, developments in electronic media offer forums such as email, instant messaging, web pages, and digital photos to add to the arsenal. Computers, cell phones, are current tools that are being used to conduct an old practice.

Forms of cyberbullying can range in severity from cruel or embarrassing rumors to threats, harassment, or stalking. It can affect any age group; however, teenagers and young adults are common victims, and cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools.

How can you protect yourself and your children from Cyberbullying?

  • Teach your children good online habits – Explain the risks of technology, teach them how to be responsible online, monitor their use of the internet and other electronic media

     

  • Keep lines of communication open – Speak often to your children about their online activity so they become comfortable telling you if they are a victim of cyberbullying.

 

  • Watch for warning signs – Look for changes in behavior and try to identify the cause as soon as possible.

     

  • Limit availability of personal information - Limiting the number of people who have access to contact information or details about interests, habits, or employment which reduces disclosure to bullies that you or your child do not know.

 

  • Avoid escalating the situation - Responding with hostility is likely to provoke a bully and escalate the situation. Depending on the circumstances, consider ignoring the issue. Often, bullies thrive on the reaction of their victims. Other options include subtle actions. For example, you may be able to block the messages on social networking sites or stop unwanted emails by changing the email address. If you continue to get messages at the new email address, you may have a stronger case for legal action.

     

  • Document the activity - Keep a record of any online activity (emails, web pages, instant messages, etc.), including relevant dates and times. In addition to archiving an electronic version, consider printing a copy.

 

  • Report cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities - If you or your child are being harassed or threatened, report the activity. Many schools have instituted bullying programs, so school officials may have established policies for dealing with activity that involves students. If necessary, contact your local law enforcement. Law enforcement agencies have different policies, but your local police department or FBI branch are good starting points. Unfortunately, there is a distinction between free speech and punishable offenses, but the legal implications should be decided by the law enforcement officials and the prosecutors.