What qualifies as cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is a crime in most states, and can include the following:
- sending threatening or nasty chats;
- presenting embarrassing or humiliating photos or videos of someone on a streaming or video-hosting site;
- setting up fake profiles to make fun of someone;
- "happy slapping" – when people use their mobiles to film and share videos of physical attacks;
- posting or forwarding someone else's personal or private information or images without their permission;
- sending viruses that can damage another person's computer; and
- making abusive comments about another user
How do I deal with cyberbullying?
If you are experiencing cyberbullying, here are steps you can take:
- Avoid responding directly to the person bullying you. Although it can be difficult, engaging the bully typically only encourages them to continue or even escalate their attacks. Responding to the bully also runs the risk that you will begin insulting and harassing them as well, which can hurt your case when you attempt to take legal action against the cyber bullying.
- Document your experience. Documenting your experience is a crucial part of helping others, including law enforcement, intervene on your behalf. Read through the site's terms and conditions and other community guidelines, and make a list of the clauses or terms that your bully has violated through his or her behavior. If the person sends you messages, save them in their entirety, and make sure they are legible. Record the dates and times of the messages or comments. If your friends have seen the messages as well, ask them if they'd be willing to provide a statement as to the content of those messages. Write a chronological summary of the events that took place and the pattern of bullying you experienced. Documenting your experience will not only help you file a complaint against the bully on Twitch, but also if you choose to file a report with the police or file a civil lawsuit. One of the biggest challenges in fighting cyberbullying is proving that the conduct took place.
- Report actions to the service provider. Not all interactions rise to the level of bullying or harassment, but if you feel that someone has crossed the line, take advantage of the reporting tools available to you on the platform where the behavior occured.
- File a police report. Regrettably, some people experience online conduct by others that rise to the level of criminal behavior. Police may be reluctant to get involved unless you are concerned for your safety, so focus on anything that would demonstrate a local contact or an intent to physically harm you or your family. Keep in mind that typically it is not enough to show a single message, or even an isolated string of messages or comments unless they include threats of violence. You must be able to show a pattern of continuous behavior. Often, cyberbullying must be prosecuted under laws that prohibit stalking, threats, or harassment. You may want to review the laws in your state before you file you contact law enforcement. (To learn more about the anti-bullying laws in your state, you can visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/ and click on your state on the map.) After filing a report, be sure to let an officer know if you acquire additional evidence concerning your case.
- Hire an attorney. If you choose to file a civil lawsuit against the person bullying you, an experienced personal injury attorney may be your best option to ensure you recover the maximum amount in damages. Damages in civil lawsuits for cyberbullying typically hinge on emotional distress, and can be extremely difficult to prove. An attorney with experience litigating these cases will have a good idea what your case is worth and the types of damages that can be proven.