Cyberbullying is the modern form of online harassment and it is all too common with children under the age of 18 who may have a social life online – think, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. And, while those platforms can be a hotbed for peer harassment, know that even if your child isn’t on the internet, they can still be victimized by it.

Cyberbullying occurs when you or your child is threatened, humiliated, harassed, or humiliated via use of technology. And, even though all this happening virtually, it is a serious form of abuse and can be harmful and dangerous to the impacted individual.

First and foremost, let’s talk about how to get help if you are a victim of cyberbullying. If you are under 18, always reach out to a trusted adult like your parent, a school teacher or family member. Remember, you are not alone and there are people and processes in place to help protect you from these attacks. Your parents can work alongside law enforcement to protect you; while many digital carriers have programs in place to help block, report and stop harassment via your digital devices.

As an adult or parent, contact your local law enforcement to report the attacks and work with their Internet Crimes Department to first protect your child then take legal action.

What does cyberbullying look like and what forms can it take?

Instant Messaging/Text Messaging Harassments
Kids and teens can gang up on their victim in coordinated harassment known as text wars or text attacks. They send hundreds or thousands of text-messages to the victim’s cell phone or other mobile device, resulting in constant bombardment and emotion distress.

What to do: Be sure to copy these texts and the number they are coming from then block the number sending the texts. If the texts were threatening in any way, tell your parents so they can report it to your phone provider and if necessary, to law enforcement.

Websites
Websites can be created and used to post another person’s photos, videos and their personal information (such as phone numbers, address, etc.) to humiliate them.

What to do: Immediately involve the police as the victim could be in harm’s way as this invasion to their privacy is extremely dangerous. Once the police are involved, certain actions can be taken to remove the site, locate the perpetrator and proceed with legal action.

Sending Pictures through E-mail and Cell Phones
Bullies can send another person’s private pictures, along with rumors and hate speak, to everyone in their personal contact list (as well as others). This action is cruel and harmful.

What to do: Contact your carrier and report the data leak. Many carriers have departments in place to handle these types of situations so discuss your options for a new and protected account with them. Depending on the severity, you and/or your parents can contact the Internet Crimes Department of your local law enforcement agency.

Impersonation
Posing as the targeted victim, cyberbullies may post erotic or suggestive messages in a hate group’s chatroom posing as the victim to invite an attack against them.

Bullies may release the name, address and phone number of the victim to make the hate group’s direct attack even easier. Bullies might even be masquerading as the victim while they send hateful messages out to group members to incite further action.

What to do: Have your parents contact the Internet Crimes Department of your local law enforcement agency.

Sending Adult Content and Other Spam Emails
Cyberbullies may sign their victims up for numerous email marketing lists which creates a large volume of unsolicited emails for the victim. It’s common for cyberbullies to even sign their victims up for inappropriate sites, which will send adult content to their email accounts.

What to do: Change your digital passwords and activate spam blocks in your inbox. If the attacks are too intense you may have to delete that email account altogether. However, before you delete anything, have your parents contact the Internet Crimes Department of your local law enforcement agency.

Internet Polling
Cyberbullies will use Internet Polling to create voting posts to propagate a rumor about their victim. Poles like “is she a slut”, “is he fat”, are used to generate engagement and can spread with every click.

What to do: If the voting pole is on a social media platform, take a screenshot and then immediately report it to that platform’s abuse line to have it removed as soon as possible.

Additional Resources

Oklahoma Resources for Internet Crimes
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program (ICAC) is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing over 4,500 federal, state and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These agencies are engaged in both proactive and reactive investigations, forensic investigations and criminal prosecutions.

Members of the Oklahoma Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force are specially trained to investigate the exploitation of children through the use of technology.

Learn more: http://www.oag.ok.gov/internet-crimes-against-children1

Oklahoma Department of Police
The Oklahoma City Police Department, with a uniformed force of 1169 officers and 300 civilian employees, protects citizens and property from criminal activity, keeps the peace, enforces laws, apprehends criminals and helps prepare cases for prosecution.

Report a crime: https://www.okc.gov/departments/police/report-a-crime