Cyberstalking: The Mysterious Big Bad Wolf You Won’t See (part 3 of 3)
Stalking laws and other statutes (in the United States) that criminalize harassment behavior are currently in effect in many states. These are some of the ways in which regions are dealing with the tricky legal aspects of cyberstalking: States in varying numbers within America have done the following:
- make it a crime to communicate by any means with the intent to harass or alarm their victim.
- Incorporated electronically communicated statements as conduct constituting stalking in their anti-stalking laws.
- criminalize threatening and unwanted electronic communications.
- prohibit misuse of computer communications rather than harassment or anti-stalking statutes.
- passed laws which contain broad language that can be interpreted to include cyberstalking behaviors.
If Your Child Is Cyberstalked
If your child is a victim of cyber stalking the following information may help you and your child:
- Victims who are under the age of 18 should tell their parents or another adult they trust about any harassments and/or threats.
- Experts suggest that in cases where the offender is known, victims should send the stalker a clear written warning. Specifically, victims should communicate that the contact is unwanted, and ask the perpetrator to cease sending communications of any kind. Victims should do this only once. Then, no matter the response, victims should under no circumstances ever communicate with the stalker again. Victims should save copies of this communication in both electronic and hard copy form.
- If the harassment continues, the victim may wish to file a complaint with the stalker’s Internet service provider, as well as with their own service provider. Many Internet service providers offer tools that filter or block communications from specific individuals.
- If you suspect your child is a victim of online harassment or cyberstalking, start collecting all evidence and document all contact made by the stalker. Save all e-mail, postings, or other communications in both electronic and hard-copy form. If possible, save all of the header information from e-mails and newsgroup postings. Record the dates and times of any contact with the stalker.
- Start a log of each communication explaining the situation in more detail. Victims may want to document how the harassment is affecting their lives and what steps they have taken to stop the harassment.
- You may want to file a report with local law enforcement or contact their local prosecutor’s office to see what charges, if any, can be pursued. Victims should save copies of police reports and record all contact with law enforcement officials and the prosecutor’s office.
- If your child is being continually harassed you may want to consider changing their e-mail address, Internet service provider, a home phone number, and use encryption software or privacy protection programs. Most local computer stores offer a variety of protective software, options and suggestions. You may also want to learn how to use the filtering capabilities of email programs to block e-mails from certain addresses.
- Under no circumstances should victims agree to meet with the perpetrator face to face to “work it out,” or “talk.” No contact should ever be made with the stalker, as it can be extremely dangerous.
Giving and Getting Help
The most important thing in dealing with the harassment or cyberstalking of your child is to make sure that the child feels safe and secure and that you help them to understand that they are not at fault for the things that have been done to them.
Let them know that there are people out there with the knowledge and expertise to help them the best they can for the best interest of children and their safety and happiness in mind.
If your child experiences these reactions you might consider seeking out support from friends, family and victim service professionals in order to cope with the trauma resulting from cyberstalking.
The National Center for Victims of Crime has a help line where they can help to locate local victim service professionals that may be able to offer assistance, safety suggestions, information and referrals.
Contact the Helpline of the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL , 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, Eastern Standard Time.
Read part one of... Cyberstalking: The Mysterious Big Bad Wolf You Won’t See (part 1 of 3)
Read part two of... Cyberstalking: The Mysterious Big Bad Wolf You Won’t See (part 2 of 3)
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