by Deona Hooper, MSW
I will be sharing with you a few useful tools and recommendations to help protect yourself and/or your children from cyber bullying both online and offline. Although social media and the internet has revolutionized the way our society communicates, it also presents many dangers that both children and adults must navigate in order to protect themselves from harm. Those who wreak havoc on others primarily rely on either one of two factors in which to inflict damage on their intended target: 1) anonymity or 2) position or status that by virtue give them credibility over their victim. Their predatory actions depend on the silence of their victim, the inability of their victim to prove the harm being inflicted upon them, and/or the powerless feelings by the victim to stop future behavior.
One of the best examples of this psychology is in the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” where a state’s guardian/worker uses his authority to impose his will on the main character, Lisbeth. Click here to View Trailer. This post in no way serves as legal advice, but hopefully it may help you to access your situation from a strategic point of view. What victims and potential victims should realize is that your tormentor’s psychology is obsessed with maintaining their public persona in order to conceal their private activities. Your silence is their best weapon, but I must caution you that any attempts to expose their evil side without a strategic approach will catapult them into defensive mode. Your tormentor will intensify his or her efforts in order to further undermine your credibility.
By recognizing your tormentor’s psychology, you can turn your silence into your best strategic advantage. Without them being in defensive mode, your tormentor conducts business as usual which is being the devil to you, but a saint in front of everyone else. Why not use this period of time to document their behavior? Other than in person harassment, the most commonly used means to harass or threaten is either via computer or via phone. Here are few tools and recommendations to help support your accounting of events, but keep in mind these tools are double edged sword. Don’t send anything that you don’t want archived or saved.
1. Screenshot- Provides users the ability to capture a time stamped photo of whatever appears on their computer screen as well as available on android and apple phones. For more information view “Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques”
2. Find IP Address in Emails- Some may think creating an another email account will maintain anonymity by protecting their identity. However, this is not the case. Email accounts provide the IP address for the computer being used to access the email account. For more information view “How to Find the Location in the Header of Gmail“, this article also gives information on other email account types.
3. Youmail and Google Voice-Are harassing phone calls a problem? Do you feel the need to log your incoming, outgoing calls, and text messaging….then you need to add these two apps to your phone ASAP. Youmail is unique because it can track and catalog hangups, incoming calls, and voicemails to your phone. In addition, you can call block and ditch calls with a no longer in service message. Additionally, it will act as a caller id even when someone tries to block their number and when your phone is off. Google Voice gives you the ability to add a second line to your phone with a new number without having to give out your carrier cell phone number. Also, it provides a recording option for your phone calls. ***Caution*** In the same way you may use these tools to protect yourself, don’t engage in behavior that will allow these same tools to be used against you. Often times with bullying, their tactic is to strike, but catch you in the act of retaliating.
4. Reporting Harassment and Threats- For Information on reporting to Twitter view “How to document harassment and cyberstalking on Twitter“, for Information on reporting to Facebook view “Track Your Facebook Abuse, Bullying and Spam Reports“, and for information on general reporting view “Cyber bullying, School Bullying, and Bullycide”
5. Social Media Monitoring-Some parents maybe ambivalent on whether to monitor or not monitor their kids behavior. This resource provides several resources to parents of children being bullied and parent’s of the bullying child. Most importantly, it provides a comprehensive tool to monitor all of your child’s social media and cell phone usage in order to provide a comprehensive picture of your child’s activity both incoming and outgoing. For more information view Uknow.com. Although this tool was designed for children, adults being harassed can also utilize this tool for evidence gathering. Another alternative is Safetrec.
Please join us on December 3, 2012 at 8PM EST for a Live Twitter Chat to discuss cyber bullying and bullying for both children and adults. The moderator will be @swhelpercom using the hashtag #SWunited.
View Archived Live Twitter Chat at www.storify.com/swunited. Here are a few of the tweets:
#swunited This topic is so important. There have been recent suicides here in Canada by young people being bullied online.
— Lisa Zigler (@mayzee01) December 4, 2012
#swunited I just feel kids, esp. poor kids of color, are already criminalized. Criminalizing them further for bullying will not help.
— Mel. (@melballoons) December 4, 2012