Safety brochure for parents

Safety brochure for kids and teens

Internet Safety Pledge for Parents/Guardians

Internet Safety Pledge for kids and teens

Facebook Guidelines for Parents

cyber bullying abuse

How to respond to online harrassment

You must clearly tell the harasser to stop

Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to communicate with a harasser. However, as soon as you determine that you are really being harassed by someone, you must very clearly tell that person to stop.

Simply send them an e-mail or IM that reads something like "Do not contact me in any way in the future" and leave it like that. You do not need to explain why, just state that you do not want the person to contact you. Sometimes it is helpful to copy (cc) the same message to the abuse department of the harasser's ISP. You may also want to keep a record of this message for your records. Do not respond to any further messages of any sort from the harasser. Don't ask anyone else to contact the harasser on your behalf. It is common for the harasser to claim that you are harassing him or her, but if you aren't contacting the person, it is clear that you aren't the harasser.

Save EVERYTHING.

One of the first impulses many kids and teens have is to just delete any communications they've received, and that's a bad idea. It's important to save absolutely everything you have received from the harasser - email, IMs, chat logs, ICQ histories, message board posts, anything. If the harasser has created a web site about you, save copies of it to your hard drive, CD or other storage system. Print it out and starting a folder of all the activity that happens. Have someone you trust to do the same as a backup. If you receive any phone calls from the harasser, have them traced immediately (your local phone company can tell you how to do that). If you receive any kind of postal mail or other offline communications, save them (with envelopes, boxes, etc.)

Do not destroy any evidence - and do not handle it more than absolutely necessary or permit anyone else to do so. Immediately turn the evidence over to your parents, a teacher or other trusted adult or the police. Place envelopes, letters, etc. in plastic bags to protect any possible fingerprints.

Complain to the right people

It can at times be a little difficult for you to determine who the right person to complain to is. If you're harassed in a chat room, contact whoever runs the web site the chat room is located on. If you're harassed via IM, read the terms of service and harassment policies they've provided and use any contact address given on their web site. If someone has created a web site to harass you, complain to the server where the site is hosted. If you're being harassed via email, complain to the sender's ISP and any email service (like Hotmail or Yahoo) used to send the messages. Figuring out who to complain to is one of the areas in which WHOA-KTD's volunteers can definitely help you.

Determine your desired result

What is the outcome you expect to achieve from this? You need to think about this and be realistic. It's reasonable to expect that you can get the harasser to stop contacting you. It is reasonable to expect that you can increase your safety and that of your family and friends online and offline. It is not realistic to expect an apology from the harasser or any kind of "payback" or revenge. If you want to file a lawsuit because of something the harasser said about you, find a lawyer who will take the suit, but realize that you'll probably have to pay a lot of legal costs and may not ever get any kind of satisfaction. If you want the harasser arrested by the police, unless the situation escalates to a point where they do have to step in, that won't happen. That's why we're here to help you - to try to stop the harassment before it gets so bad where the police need to be involved.


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