By Cst. David Robichaud
Cyberbullying happens 24 hours a day. It is relentless, and reaches people at the dinner table, while they socialize, in the workplace, at school, and in the privacy of their bedroom. Victims of such bullying will feel an intense sense of isolation, fear, loneliness, and despair, which can often lead to self-harm and even suicide.
People who witness cyberbullying by receiving messages or forwarding them to others don’t consider themselves as being part of the problem. Forwarding hurtful messages or content can increase the number of people who witness the bullying of another by thousands, instantly. “Liking” a message or passing it on tells the person who is cyberbullying that his or her behaviour is okay, and makes it easier for that person to become more aggressive and vicious.
• Sending mean and sometimes threatening emails or text messages
• Spreading gossip, secrets, or rumours about another person that will damage that person’s reputation
• Breaking into an email account and sending hurtful materials to others under an assumed identity
• Creating blogs or websites that have stories, cartoons, pictures, or jokes ridiculing others
• Creating websites where visitors are asked to rate individuals’ attributes in a negative manner
• Taking an embarrassing photo of someone and emailing that photo to others
• Engaging someone in instant messaging, tricking them into revealing personal information, then forwarding that information to others
• Using someone else’s password in order to change their profile to reflect sexual, racist, and other content that may offend others
• Posting false or hurtful messages on online bulletin boards or in chat rooms
• Deliberately excluding others from instant messaging and email contact lists.
Some forms of bullying can be considered illegal. These include:
Criminal harassment: Repeated tormenting online, with texts, phone calls, and/or emails causing the other person to fear for their safety.
Child pornography: Sharing intimate photos and videos of minors (under the age of 18).
Uttering threats and extortion: Threatening to share someone’s personal information to others if they don’t do what you want them to do.
Assault: Threats of acts of non-consensual force, violence, bodily harm, or destruction of personal property.
Identity theft / Fraud: Creating a fake online profile to ruin someone’s reputation.
Defamatory libel: Spreading rumours about someone.
For all these criminal offences, it is imperative that the person being bullied notify their local RCMP detachment or report it to cybertip.ca. Based on the provided information, police will make an investigation. If warranted, charges could be laid.