As more and more people are using the Internet, harassment through the Internet has become a major problem. Things like cyberbullying and cyberstalking are rearing their ugly heads quite commonly. These threats should be taken seriously; otherwise they can affect a person’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
When a person is being harassed through the Internet, he/she should first evaluate the seriousness of the harassment. Many people can say hateful words or even slander another person due to the anonymity offered by the Internet. It could just be rudeness. On the other hand, hate speech or threat should never be ignored.
If you feel that you are being subjected to Internet harassment, make a record of all the comments and emails that you get from the harasser. If necessary, even make screenshots of the comments in forums and other webpages. Print out all the evidence, so that you have a hard copy.
Set up a Google Alert for your name and nicknames, so that you can track all comments that mention your name across the cyberspace.
Often Internet harassment begins when a person’s email account is hacked. So, it may be useful to change the passwords of your email accounts. Try using a combination of numbers and letters to make the passwords more secure.
If the harassment becomes unbearable, report the matter to the relevant authorities. The FBI has a special branch to track online crimes. You can report the harassment to this branch. If the harassment has reached your doorsteps and is no longer restricted to the Internet, report the matter to the local law enforcement agency. You can also report the person to their Internet Service Provider, but do this reporting cautiously. At times, the Internet Service Provider may discontinue the harasser’s Internet connection, but this can further aggravate the situation. The harasser may begin harassing you even further. So, consult the police before reporting the person to his/her Internet Service Provider.
Do not communicate with the harasser. Do not even attempt to threaten the harasser by saying that you will take legal action against him/her. Instead stop all forms of communication.
While it may seem impossible, try to stay calm through the entire process. Most of the times, you will not know who the harasser is. So, you are unaware of the extent the person may go to. The last thing you need is the Internet harassment reaching your doorsteps. If this should happen, make sure you report the matter to the police without delay.
Internet harassment should be taken seriously, especially where children are involved. There have been cases of children harming themselves after being cyberbullied. So, parents should be vigilant.