After three Louisiana high school students were arrested last week and charged with cyber stalking, some law enforcement officials and Internet safety groups say this kind of online harassment, or "cyber bullying," is on the rise across the country.
Joseph Sanchez, 18, and a 14-year-old boy created a Web site that had links to poems with "bloodthirsty lyrics" and a list of "preppie," or popular, students, said Louisiana police. And a 15-year-old girl allegedly posed as a male to chat with a male student online, and then later set up a Web site where she posted the victim's photograph and called him a homosexual.
Sanchez was charged with a felony and the other two students were charged as juveniles. The students' illegal activities were discovered during the holiday break when a parent contacted the police on Dec. 29.
Over 40 percent of kids have been bullied online, according to i-SAFE America, a non-profit group that educates parents and kids about using the Internet responsibly. And with kids getting more sophisticated about technology, experts expect many more students could be victims.
Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti Jr., told "Good Morning America" that parents can take measures to protect their children from online harassment.
The point of cyber bullying is to humiliate, threaten and terrify other students, said Foti, and the best way to prevent it from happening is to monitor your kids' online habits.
"The best advice I can give to parents is make sure you know where your kids are going on the Internet," said Foti. "Don't let your kids put a computer in their bedroom. Put the computer in the family room."
Foti also said that parents should get computer programs that show where their children are going on the Internet and get filters that block certain Web sites.
It's also important for parents to address the issue directly by talking to their kids about online harassment. Nearly 60 percent of students who have been harassed don't tell their parents or another adult, according to i-SAFE.