Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology and the Internet to threaten another person, or treat them in a negative or harmful way. Similar in function to traditional bullying, the addition of technology exposes the victim to a new level of helplessness and embarrassment with much larger audiences and oftentimes little recourse to stop it.
Cyberbullying can take many forms and is only limited by the creative and technical ability of the aggressor(s). Such activities are common with teenagers who reinforce this behavior within social groups at school, text messages, and social networking platforms.
Examples of cyberbullying can include: a person impersonating a victim in order to create a fake social networking profile presenting them in a negative way, the aggressor using their own social networking account to post fake, hurtful, or negative comments or pictures about a victim, using IM or chat rooms to threaten a victim, befriending a potential victim with intentions to gain trust and gather unflattering personal information to blackmail or embarrass them, sending threatening emails to someone, using a smart phone to snap a victim’s picture in a compromising position and texting it to others, sending mean or hurtful texts to a victim’s cell phone.
Oftentimes cyberbullying is difficult to address. For example, someone building a fake social profile can remain anonymous, and the company hosting it may not be inclined to provide identifying information about the creator’s unique web information or even remove the fake page. Even if a bully uses their own profile, they may refuse to remove the false information if asked. It all revolves around what has been posted and if it constitutes consideration of being a criminal matter.
If you or someone you know is being victimized make sure to keep as much documentation as possible. Try to preserve the evidence by saving the email or text or even printing a copy of the screen if the material is posted in a social networking profile. If it involves a school matter then consult with the school administration to determine what can be done. If not, then contact the local authorities for guidance in determining if there is a next step.
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Becoming increasingly popular due to the use of camera embedded smart phones and tablets, “sexting” is the common term for sending nude or provocative pictures or recorded and live videos of yourself to another person via text message, email, or other technology media.
Although this is a legal activity for adults, it is considered child pornography when teenagers under 18 engage in this type of behavior. Most commonly associated with underage teenage girls for their boyfriends, neither party considers the legal ramifications for this issue. In fact, if the girl keeps the images on her device, she is considered to have legally created, distributed, and possesses child porn.
Often times such material, in the hands of adolescent minors, will be forwarded to others for bragging rights or payback for an ended relationship. As one might expect, this further complicates the issue with embarrassment for the victim while legally entangling additional people into possessing child porn.
This is an increasing problem facing today’s schools. Such material spreads quickly through a student body creating an administrative nightmare as schools must confiscate devices and work with authorities and parents. This can also take the form of bullying as students might take a picture of an unsuspecting classmate in the locker room and circulate it throughout the school.
Even though adult sexting does not carry the same legal concerns as underage minors, there are many instances when adults play the payback game as well. Depending on where the material ends up, there are always concerns about personal and professional embarrassment that may even lead to a job loss depending on the chosen profession.
Regardless of the subject’s age, there is always concern about how such a disclosure will impact the victim and can even lead to self-harming despair. Such victims need tremendous support throughout the process.
An important recommendation for parents and adults is to report situations like this to authorities immediately. In terms of dealing with underage issues – never attempt to keep it quiet by confiscating the technology equipment. Adults can potentially face charges of possessing child porn themselves. Further, the popular use of cloud services (i.e. Apple’s iCloud and Alphabet’s Google+) in providing instant backup of pictures and videos changes the whole dynamic of confiscation anyway.
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