Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Citizens Voice - News - 02/23/2005 - Bullying goes high-tech in cyberspace

The Citizens Voice - News - 02/23/2005 - Bullying goes high-tech in cyberspace

ABC News: School Bullies Take Teasing Online

ABC News: School Bullies Take Teasing Online

New York Post Online Edition: news

New York Post Online Edition: news

The Journal News Newspaper Archive - about our cyberbullying summit held for Westchester Cty

The Journal News Newspaper Archive - Purchase articles from

Larchmont Larchmont's hometown journal. Cyberbullies in Mamaroneck? County COnference Lends Advice

Larchmont Larchmont's hometown journal. Cyberbullies in Mamaroneck? County COnference Lends Advice

Shore Line Times - News - 02/09/2005 - 'Cyberbullying' on the rise among Madison teens

Shore Line Times - News - 02/09/2005 - 'Cyberbullying' on the rise among Madison teens

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Lawmaker wants to prevent cyberbullying

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Lawmaker wants to prevent cyberbullying

The Citizens Voice - News - 02/23/2005 - Bullying goes high-tech in cyberspace

The Citizens Voice - News - 02/23/2005 - Bullying goes high-tech in cyberspace

Sunday, February 20, 2005

NewsFactor Network - Internet Life - Latest Internet Peril: Cyber Bullies

NewsFactor Network - Internet Life - Latest Internet Peril: Cyber Bullies

Monday, February 14, 2005

Cyberbullying Basics

Cyberbullying Basics

Cyberbullying Basics- It Takes a Village (or county J)

Cyberbullying Basics- It Takes a Village (or county J)

Cyberbullying Basics

Cyberbullying Basics

Saturday, February 12, 2005

ABC News: School Bullies Take Teasing Online

ABC News: School Bullies Take Teasing Online

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Larchmont Larchmont's hometown journal. Cyberbullies in Mamaroneck? County COnference Lends Advice

Larchmont Larchmont's hometown journal. Cyberbullies in Mamaroneck? County COnference Lends Advice

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Shore Line Times - News - 02/09/2005 - 'Cyberbullying' on the rise among Madison teens

Shore Line Times - News - 02/09/2005 - 'Cyberbullying' on the rise among Madison teens

Friday, February 04, 2005

Cyberbullying by Proxy - the most dangerous kind of cyberbullying

Cyberharassment or Cyberbullying by Proxy
(or third party cyberharassment or cyberbullying)

Often people who misuse the Internet to target others do it using accomplices. These accomplices, unfortunately, are often unsuspecting. They know they are communicating irate or provocative messages, but don’t realize that they are being manipulated by the real cyberharasser or cyberbully. That’s the beauty of this type of scheme. The attacker merely prods the issue by creating indignation or emotion on the part of others, can sit back and let others do their dirty work. Then, when legal action or other punitive actions are taken against the accomplice, the real attacker can claim that they never instigated anything and no one was acting on their behalf. They claim innocence and blame their accomplices, unwitting or not. And their accomplices have no legal leg to stand on.

It’s brilliant and very powerful. It is also one of the most dangerous kinds of cyberharassment or cyberbullying. Children do this often using AOL or another ISP as their “proxy” or accomplice. When they engage in a “notify” or “warning” war, they are using this method to get the ISP to view the victim as the provocateur. A notify or warning war is when one child provokes another, until the victim lashes back. When they do, the real attacker clicks the warning or notify button on the text screen. This captures the communication and flags it for the ISP’s review. If the ISP finds that the communication violated their terms of service agreement (which most do) they may take action. Some accounts allow several warnings before formal action is taken. But the end result is the same. The ISP does the attacker’s dirty work when they close or suspend the real victim’s account for a terms of service violation. Most knowledgeable ISPs know this and are careful to see if the person being warned is really being set-up.

Sometimes children use the victim’s own parents as unwitting accomplices. They provoke the victim and when the victim lashes back, they save the communication and forward it to the parents of the victim. The parents often believe what they read, and without having evidence of the prior provocations, think that their own child “started it.”
This works just as easily in a school disciplinary environment.

Unfortunately, while many who work with children are aware of this tactic, few adults are. Online media is often used to do someone’s dirty work in a cyberharassment campaign, without realizing it. And many netizens are manipulated as well. When something may be true if it appears once online and becomes Gospel if it appears twice, where scams, fraud and con artists abound, thinking that they are anonymous or can’t be held accountable for their actions, where misinformation and hype thrives, this isn’t surprising. There is something about the typed word online to make people think it must be true if someone said it.

This creates problems for those being attacked by accomplices who think they understand the truth and think they are doing something right. Our advice has always been to ignore these things, and they will usually run their course. Media attention and public denials only feed the motives of the person behind the attacks. And are rarely heard or believed by the accomplices.
So, if something is believed if not denied, but denials only make it worse, how do people deal with these kinds of attacks? Usually, if anyone bothered to check things out, they would find out that any accusations aren’t true. This is especially effective when a second or third campaign attempts to build on the first. A statement may sound true. And in the short term may not be clearly untrue. But when enough time passes and the claims don’t pan out, most accomplices aren’t mislead a second or third time. It usually dies out faster. Rarely are members of the media caught on the second or third round. They have their reputations on the line. Good journalists don’t repeat unfounded rumors and usually understand that they are being used.

But there are always accomplices who have problems understanding that they are being used. Sometimes they have their own agendas. Public figures are very familiar with people who attack them for their own motives, either to get their fifteen minutes of fame or to get revenge, or in some cases for financial rewards. Some may be emotionally disturbed, or have problems with social communications. Some people are just mean and rude. And some are inordinately gullible. And the common sense that should filter their actions online may not be present.

These people may not understand that their attacks, if designed to hurt someone’s reputation may be defamatory and subject them to lawsuits and in some cases harassment charges. They may not understand that they can be tracked quite easily most of the time and held accountable for their actions. They may not understand that their actions, while they may believe they are noble and right, may be a terms of service violation and cost them their online accounts.

I often point to my articles for children teaching them what to believe and what to distrust online. Unfortunately, these gullible people or people with their own agendas don’t have the sense that many seven year olds do. They repeat rumors, and take action. And find themselves facing liability when the person who started it all hides behind them. They should know that repeating lies, even if you read them online, is no excuse under the law.

A caution to all who believe things without confirming their accuracy: Silence should not be confused with an admission of guilt or confirmation that a lie told by someone is true. Sometimes silence is smarter, especially when the real fight may not occur online at all. The smarter ones don’t fight their battles in the public online, not when defamation or harassment is involved.

Just a reminder to think before you click. Otherwise you have become what you say you are fighting. You have become a cyberharasser or cyberbully yourself. Don’t be used. Use your head.

The 4 kinds of cyberbullies

The Profile of a Typical Cyberbully: The Motives and Targeted Solutions

There are four different kinds of cyberbullying. They are motive-driven, based on the motives for the cyberbullying. They may use the same methods as the other kinds of cyberbullies, but the reasons for their actions are very different. Solutions require that we understand the motives involved to address them effectively.

The four types of cyberbullies include:

• The Vengeful Angel
• The Power-Hungry or Revenge of the Nerds
• The “Mean Girls”
• The Inadvertent Cyberbully or “Because I Can”

Some methods of cyberbullying are unique to a certain kind of cyberbullying motive. And so are the ways the cyberbully maintain their secrecy or broadcast their actions to others. Some are secretive, some require an audience and some are entirely inadvertent.

Because the motives differ from each type of cyberbully, the solutions need to address their special issues. There is no “one size fits all” when cyberbullying is concerned. But understanding more about why they cyberbully others will help. You have to address the motives. That’s why awareness campaigns need several different messages to address the problem.

“The Vengeful Angel”: In this type of cyberbullying, the cyberbully doesn’t see themselves as a bully at all. They see themselves as righting wrongs, or protecting themselves or others from the “bad guy” they are now victimizing. This includes situations when the victim of cyberbullying or offline bullying retaliates and becomes a cyberbully themselves They may be angry at something the victim did and feel they are taking warranted revenge or teaching the other a lesson. The “Vengeful Angel” cyberbully often gets involved trying to protect a friend who is being bullied or cyberbullied. They generally work alone, but may share their activities and motives with their close friends and others they perceive as being victimized by the person they are cyberbullying.

Vengeful Angels need to know that no one should try and take justice into their own hands. They need to understand that few things are clear enough to understand, and that fighting bullying with more bullying only makes things worse. They need to see themselves as bullies, not the do-gooder they think they are. It also helps to address the reasons they lashed out in the first place. If they sense injustices, maybe there really are injustices. Instead of just blaming the Vengeful Angel, solutions here also require that the situation be reviewed ot see what can be done to address the underlying problem. S there a place ot report bullying or cyberbullying? Can that be done anonymously? Is there a peer counseling group that handles these matters? What about parents and school administrators. Do they ignore bullying when it occurs, or do they take it seriously? The more methods we can give these kinds of cyberbullies ot use official channels to right wrongs, the less often they will try to take justice into their own hands.

The “Power-Hungry” and “Revenge of the Nerds”: Just as their schoolyard counterparts, some cyberbullies want to exert their authority, show that they are powerful enough to make others do what they want and some want to control others with fear. Sometimes the kids want to hurt another kid. Sometimes they just don’t like the other kid. These are no different than the offline tough schoolyard bullies, except for their method. Power-Hungry” cyberbullies usually need an audience. It may be a small audience of their friends or those within their circle at school. Often the power they feel when only cyberbullying someone is not enough to feed their need to be seen as powerful and intimidating. They often brag about their actions. They want a reaction, and without one may escalate their activities to get one.

Interestingly enough, though, the “Power-Hungry” cyberbully is often the victim of typical offline bullying. They may be female, or physically smaller, the ones picked on for not being popular enough, or cool enough. They may have greater technical skills. Some people call this the “Revenge of the Nerds” cyberbullying. It is their intention to frighten or embarrass their victims. And they are empowered by the anonymity of the Internet and digital communications and the fact that they never have to confront their victim. They may act tough online, but are not tough in real life. They are often not a bullying but “just playing one on TV.”

This kind of cyberbullying usually takes place one-on-one and the cyberbully often keeps their activities secret from their friends. If they share their actions, they are doing it only with others they feel would be sympathetic. The rarely appreciate the seriousness of their actions, and often resort to cyberbullying-by-proxy. Because of this and their tech skills, can be the most dangerous of all cyberbullying.

Power-Hungry cyberbullies often react best when they know that few things are ever anonymous online. We leave a trail of cyber-breadcrumbs behind us wherever we go in cyberspace. And, with the assistance of a law enforcement or legal subpoena, we can almost always find the cyber-abusers and cybercriminals in real life. Shining a bright light on their activities helps too. When they are exposed, letting the school community know about their exposure helps prevent copycat cyberbullying.

Helping them to realize the magnitude of their activities is also helpful. Often their activities arise to the criminal level. The more this type of cyberbully understands the legal consequences of their action, the more they think about their actions.

Ignoring them can also be very effective. But sometimes, instead of going away when ignored, they escalate their actions to get others involved, through a cyberbullying-by-proxy situation. Whever a Power-Hungry cyberbully is suspected, it is crucial that law enforcement is notified and that the victim keeps a careful watch on themselves online, through “googling themselves.” They can even set a Google Alert to notify them by e-mail if anything new is posted online with their personal contact information.

“Mean Girls”: The last type of cyberbullying occurs when the cyberbully is bored or looking for entertainment. It is largely ego-based and the most immature of all cyberbullying types. Typically, in the “Mean Girls” bullying situations, the cyberbullies are female. They may be bullying other girls (most frequently) or boys (less frequently).

“Mean Girls” cyberbullying is usually done, or at least planned, in a group, either virtually or together in one room. This kind of cyberbullying is done for entertainment. It may occur from a school library or a slumber party, or from the familyroom of someone after school. This kind of cyberbullying requires an audience. The cyberbullies in a “mean girls” situation want others to know who they are and that they have the power to cyberbully others. This kind of cyberbullying grows when fed by group admiration, cliques or by the silence of others who stand by and let it happen. It quickly dies if they don’t get the entertainment value they are seeking.

The most effective tool in handling a Mean Girls cyberbullying case is blocking controls. Block them, block all alternate screen names and force them to go elsewhere for their sick entertainment.

The Inadvertant Cyberbully: Inadvertant cyberbullies usually don’t think they are cyberbullies at all. They may be pretending to be tough online, or role playing, or they may be reacting to hateful or provocative messages they have received. Unlike the Revenge of the Nerds cyberbullies, they don’t lash out intentionally. They just respond without thinking about the consequences of their actions.

They may feel hurt, or angry because of a communication sent to them, or something they have seen online. And they tend to respond in anger or frustration. They don’t think before clicking “send.”

Sometimes, while experimenting in role-playing online, they may send cyberbullying communications or target someone without understanding how serious this could be. They do it for the heck of it “Because I Can.” They do it for the fun of it. They may also do it to one of their friends, joking around. But their friend may not recognize that it is another friend or make take it seriously. They tend to do this when alone, and are mostly surprised when someone accuses them of cyberabuse.

Education plays an important role in preventing Inadvertant Cyberbullying. Teaching them to respect others and to be sensitive to their needs is the most effective way of dealing with this kind of cyberbully. Teaching them to Take5! is an easy way to help them spot potentially bullying behavior before it’s too late.

FAQs for media on cyberbullying

For immediate release:
Contact Parry Aftab, Esq.,
Executive Director or 201-463-8663 and
Cyberbullying FAQ Sheet for Media

What is it: Cyberbullying is cyber-harassment when both the victim and the cyberbully are minors. It ranges from rude or lewd language directed at the minor him or herself, or use of the Internet or other interactive technology (cell phones, interactive games and text messaging devices) to target the victim.

How does it work: The methods used and abused are limited only by the limitless imagination and tech tools of the kids. Cell phones with photo or video features are used secretly to take pictures of others in a bathroom, locker room or dressing room. Images are altered to put a minor’s head on a pornographic image. Thousands of text-messages or phone calls are made to the cell phone of the victim, creating fear and cell phone charge overages. Barrages of insults are posted in a guestbook or on a victim’s blog. Interactive gaming services are used to harass or humiliate other young gamers. Computers are hacked and passwords are stolen. The cyberbullies often pose as the victim and do things designed to get the victim into trouble. Pictures are taken at parties of the victim drinking, kissing someone or doing something else and used to blackmail the victim. The victim is signed up to porn sites and is buried in porn SPAM. Websites are created where others can vote for the ugliest, fattest, etc. victim. Private information, secrets and graphic sexual images are passed around to humiliate the victim and in betraying friendships.

Who is a typical cyberbullying victim: Anyone between the ages of 9 and 14. The cyberbullying victim is sometimes an offline bully when the offline victim turns the tables using technology and anonymity to level the playing field. Older victims tend to receive sexual harassment attacks.

Who is a typical cyberbully: Girls or boys between the ages of 9 and 14. When they are older than 14, the cyberbullying often has a sexual harassment component.

What are the different kinds of cyberbullies: There a four basic kinds of cyberbullies: The Vengeful Angel (seeking to right wrongs), The Power-Hungry (or Revenge of the Nerds) (motivated by power or the desire to intimidate others, often the victims of offline bullying turns the tables in a “revenge of the nerds” case), The Mean Girls (typically girls, sometimes boy gamers, who as a group seek entertainment by provoking or harassing others) and The Inadvertent Bully (didn’t mean to hurt others and has no idea they are seen as a bully). Each kind of cyberbully is motivated by different things and the solutions and methods of effective prevention differ based upon the motive of the cyberbully.

What’s the law: The law differs state by state in the US. All but a few states now have a harassment statute that covers cyber or electronic communications. But it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between what is merely annoying and what is illegal. The laws in some states require a continued harassment (repeated communications) and no valid purpose for the ongoing contacts. In NY the New York Penal Law Chapter 40 provides for two kinds of harassment, one in the first degree which is a class b misdemeanor (imprisonment not to exceed 3 months), and one in the second degree which is a class a misdemeanor (imprisonment not to exceed one year).

§ 240.25 Harassment in the first degree

A person is guilty of harassment in the first degree when he or she intentionally and repeatedly harasses another person by following such person in or about a public place or places or by engaging in a course of conduct or by repeatedly committing acts which places such person in reasonable fear of physical injury. [irrelevant provisions omitted]

Harassment in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor
§ 240.30 Aggravated harassment in the second degree

A person is guilty of aggravated harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, he or she:

1. Either (a) communicates with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or

(b) causes a communication to be initiated by mechanical or electronic means or otherwise with a person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, or by telegraph, mail or any other form of written communication, in a manner likely to cause annoyance or alarm; or

2. Makes a telephone call, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate communication; or

3. Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise subjects another person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same because of a belief or perception regarding such person's race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct; or

4. Commits the crime of harassment in the first degree and has previously been convicted of the crime of harassment in the first degree as defined by section 240.25 of this article within the preceding ten years.

Aggravated harassment in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.

If it’s not against the law, what can you do: Most cyberbullying violates the terms of us or terms of service of the cyberbully’s ISP or cell phone provider. Many times, if the complaint is made and backed up with reliable proof, the cyberbully will have their account closed for a terms of service violation. (See for ways to make a report to your ISP.)

Is there software that can help: Many parental control software tools allow parents to block communications from anyone other than a pre-approved “buddy” or friends list. A good monitoring product, such as Spectorsoft, can allow you to track any bullying communications and collect the electronic evidence needed to take further action. A firewall, anti-virus and spyware blocker package is essential to protect yourself and your children from cyberabuses and cybercrime.

How can you find the cyberbullying and bashing posts early enough to prevent serious damage: “Google” yourself and your children often. Search for full and nick names, screen names and e-mail addresses, home addresses, cell phone and telephone numbers. Make sure you put phrases in quotes before you search, such as “123 Middletown Road, White Plains, N.Y.” Make sure you also check the image searches, using the same search phrases and terms and search blogs, using or a similar blog search engine.

If we find something about our child, can we force the site to take it down: If they are under the age of thirteen in the United States, a website cannot knowingly allow them to have their own website, blog or guestbook or permit personally identifiable information to be posted about a child. (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) Even without a law, most sites will remove anything offensive. They often have terms of service or terms of use that prohibits abusive activities or posting offensive content. This may allow the victim’s family to both remove the content and have the cyberbully’s account shut down. The Cyberstalking and Harassment team at can assist you with trying to have any post removed.

What’s worse, offline schoolyard bullying or online bullying: Does it matter? Both are bad. One involves a greater physical risk, but a more defined risky space. The risk may be in the hallways at school, in the park or on the walk home. The schoolyard bully doesn’t come into your house. He doesn’t follow you to Grandma’s house in Florida. But sticks and stones can break your bones…so offline bullies have to be dealt with quickly and decisively. A cyberbully generally doesn’t physically hurt the victim, but they enter the home and otherwise secure places. The cyberbully invades the sanctity of your home (and Grandma’s too, through cell phones and her computer) and can frighten a child away from their favorite place or game online. No child should have to undergo bullying of any kind. And when cyberbullying-by- proxy is involved and adult hate or pedophile groups are provoked by the cyberbully to do their dirty work, the victim may be in serious danger of offline attack.

Parry Aftab