By Bob Witham, Enterprise Security, OIT
One of our missions in Enterprise Security is to keep employees informed of how to protect our State information resources, while also making them aware of how they can protect themselves and their families when using their computers at home.
There is a growing problem on the Internet known as “Cyberbullying.” You may have heard the term as there have been a number of television news reports and newspaper articles over the past year talking about this problem. The following is a definition of cyberbulling from http://www.stopcyberbullying.org : “ 'Cyberbullying' is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying. ”
Cyberbullies rely on the anonymity of the Internet. They can pose as anything or anyone. They use their anonymous personas in different ways to dupe and harass their victims. In one case in Australia , a 14 year-old girl developed an online relationship with what she believed was a young man near her own age that lasted for 18 months. She actually talked to the young man on the phone, and he even talked to the girl's mother. In reality, it was a group of 11 teen girls who derived a perverse pleasure from the campaign. The hoax was finally revealed after the “boyfriend” invited the girl to his school's prom, only to smash her dreams moments before she was to arrive by calling her and canceling the date.
While it is impossible to prevent or stop cyberbullying, you can help protect your children by making them aware of this activity. The best defense is the old standby of “Talk with your children.” Let them know that they can talk to you about this activity if they find they are a victim. Help point them to resources that will help them recognize cyberbullying. In the case of the Australian girl, the ruse was so subtle that it was not uncovered until too late. Help your children make wise choices by getting involved with them.
For more information on Cyberbullying, check out these resources:
Stop Cyberbullying http://www.stopcyberbullying.org
National Crime Prevention Council http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying
You can also use you favorite search engine to search for “Cyberbully” or “Cyberbullying” for more information.