What To Do If Your Child Is Being Harassed Online By Griefers Or Cyberbullies
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Tips To Stop Online Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation
Nothing is worse than a child being harassed by a bully. No one should have to live with this abuse but it happens far too often. Bullies can make a child's life miserable and the consequences of the abuse can have long term implications. Now instead of being harassed on the bus or at the playground, kids can be bullied online. These types of abusers now have a new name, they are called cyberbullies or griefers.
Types of Abuse, Harassment or Defamation Online
Kids can be harassed in several ways online. Just as in "real life" bullies will go on a campaign to ruin a person's reputation and try to turn everyone against them. These campaigns can include several different means of harassment including online and in person. Although the old saying goes, "words can never hurt me" sometimes they can really do damage. These rumors can spread at a fast rate and truly hurt the target. Here are some of the ways that your child can be harassed online.
- Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation by Email
The cyberbully sends threatening and harassing emails. These emails may be to groups of people including the target's friends.
- Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation by Rumors Spread in Blogs and Web Sites
The cyberbully may have a blog or personal Web site where he or she posts rumors, lies and criticism of the target.
- Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation in Online Forums
The cyberbully will post criticism and nasty comments to every post of the target.
- Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation in Interactive Online Games
In Runescape your child needs to interact with other players in order to advance in the game. Often, the "newbies" (a person new to the game) will be harassed and swindled.
- Abuse, Harassment, or Defamation in Chats and Through Instant Messengers
The Instant Messenger type of harassment is quite common. The cyberbully or bully from school will get the target's IM name and harass them with incoming messages. Although your child can block the incoming messages the cyberbully can change user names and have their friends send harassing messages.
Talking To Your Child About Online Harassment and Bullying
First and foremost, you need to know about the harassment and if you are reading this you probably already know. You are one of the lucky ones because your child told you about it. Often kids don't tell their parents about harassment because they are embarrassed and want to handle it themselves. They also worry that parent involvement will only make matters worse. They may have even been threatened not to tell. If you suspect that you child is being harassed online and your child hasn't told you, you need to talk to your child. Your child needs to understand why they are being bullied. Bullies have low self-esteem and need to elevate themselves by "lowering" other people. Of course understanding why they are being harassed doesn't make it go away but understanding that there is nothing wrong with themselves may make it easier to report.
Tips To Prevent Online Harassment By Cyberbullies and Griefers
- Ignore abuse and leave the situation immediately. If the cyberbully doesn't get the desired result that move on to someone else.
- Do not use a user name that invites abuse.
- Do not give out personal information online such as email address, IM (Instant Messenger) user names, phone numbers or home address.
Steps to Take To Stop Online Harassment by Peers
As a parent we don't want anyone to criticize our child, so we often jump in quickly without thinking first. Before you jump though, you need to step back and examine the situation.
- Determine the Type of Abuse, Harassment or Defamation
If the harassment includes threats of violence against your child, call the local police department. If the harassment is defaming in nature, you must save and document the harassment. Your child can copy and paste defaming messages that were sent to them over instant messengers, save emails, and save blog posts that defame them. Be sure to log the dates and times. You can even install monitoring software that will assist in the documentation of the abuse. If the abuse is limited, your child may be able to walk away from the harassment by changing email address, instant messenger user name or forum name.
If the abuse is ongoing, you will need to report the abuse.
Report The Online Abuse, Harassment or Defamation
One easy way to report abuse and harassment is to report the abuse is to your Internet Service Provider (who you pay each month to go online). They can assist you with locating the cyberbully by capturing their IP address. Sometimes though they don't want to get involved or they may be hard to reach. Here are steps you can take to report the abuse.
- Harassment, Abuse, and Defamation by Email
If the abuse is coming to child through email, you can contact their email provider. Almost all email providers have terms of service in place that does not allow their users to use email for this purpose. To determine who is providing their email service, look at the email address from the cyberbully. The name after the @ symbol will tell you. Go to their Web site and search for their terms of service. Somewhere in there is usually a link to report abuse. Often there is a "report abuse" link on the contact page on the Web site. You should also check the header of the email for information about what ISP the abuser is using. You can then report the harassment to the abuser's ISP. To find this information follow these instructions for your specific email program.
- Harassment, Abuse, and Defamation in Blogs, Forums, Online Games, and Chats
You can usually report a cyberbully to the hosts of these items. If the abuser is using one of the popular blog hosts, reporting the violation will be fairly simple. Go to their Web site and search for their terms of service. Somewhere in there is usually a link to report abuse. Often there is a "report abuse" link on the contact page on the Web site.
- Harassment, Abuse, and Defamation in Instant Messengers
Your child can turn off the instant messenger or block or permanently put the abuser on ignore. They can also "warn" the cyberbully but to be honest, it really isn't very effective. Follow the instructions in the help files of the program. If the abuse continues via IM you may want to change your user name. If all else fails, you will need to contact your ISP for help in tracking down the IP address of the cyberbully to report them to their ISP. Often though, ISPs do not want to get involved because the program can be turned off to stop the harassment.
- Combinations of Harassment, Abuse, and Defamation That Includes Situations in "Real Life"
If the cyberbuller or griefer is from someone at school or the playground and includes abuse in person to your child you can contact the school officials or parents of the cyberbully. The action of school officials or the parents of the abuser will most likely be taken more serious if you have documentation that you can show. If you can't get satisfaction, you can contact the police.
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