5 Ways to Handle and Prevent Cyber-Harassment

PHOTO: Five ways to help you handle and prevent cyber-bullying.
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1. Recognize the situation for what it is: Online harassment. It can also be referred to as cyberbullying, but regardless of the name, know that this is a sign of weakness for the perpetrator. As upsetting as it can be, recognize that it's extremely important that you DO NOT respond to this person. Engaging with the bully often only makes matters worse. They feed off their victim's misery and pain.

2. Make a copy of the message, photo or video. The best way to do this is to copy the URL of the specific webpage where it's happening. Then screenshot the webpage, just in case. Here are some instructions on how to do that.


Mary Kay Hoal
Mary Kay Hoal

3. Contact the website operators by phone, email and any contact submission forms that they have available on their site. Request that they take the content down immediately, and let them know that you're filing a case with your local police department. Remain persistent. Continue calling and emailing the website operators until the content has been removed.

4. File a report with your local police department. While some police departments have an "Internet crimes division," many do not. So unfortunately, in many cases the police can only get involved if your life has been threatened.

5. If necessary, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. They work together to track down serious cases of online criminal complaints.

After you've taken these steps, and depending on the effect the following suggestion may have on your social life, you may want to consider telling your friends and family what's going on. In most serious cases, it's better that you let them know what's happening before they hear it from someone else. When doing this, however, you want to be sure to keep the details private, so it's a good idea to talk to your friends and family in person versus sharing the details online.

Following the incident, you'll want to practice being proactive when it comes to your online safety and privacy. One way to do this is to make sure your social networking profiles are set to the maximum level of privacy so that you aren't unintentionally providing a roadmap for the perpetrator to your whereabouts or the whereabouts of other family members. It's a good idea to take a break from using social networks and online forums.

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