What is Cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is a severe form of cyberbullying where an individual uses the Internet to repeatedly threaten, harrass, or attempt to contact another individual. Cyberstalkers exhibit a seeming obsession to keep tabs on a victim's personal whereabouts. Attempts to use a victim's identity fraudulently may also be attempted. As opposed to cyberbullying, cyberstalking usually includes one last and most frightening component: a cyberbully usually keeps the inappropriate behavior online, but cyberstalkers often call their victims on the phone, know where their victims live, and try to monitor their targets' physical whereabouts.
Typical Cyberstalking Behaviors
- Someone online is obsessively contacting your friends or family in an attempt to harass or obtain information about you.
- A person online is posing as you and posting false or offensive information about you.
- A person obtains and alters pictures of you. Cyberstalkers are known to attach victims' heads to pornographic images and distribute pictures online.
- Someone online has actively tried to find you in real life. In serious cases, they have been successful and attempt to call you, send you mail, follow you, or watch you at home.
- A person online repeatedly threatens you. These threats often include claims that they will injure or kill you.
Concerns for Parents
- Someone online may have serious intentions to harm your child. Threats that begin as emails or chat room conversations may escalate into snail mail letters or real-life contact with your child.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Be sure that your child is keeping all rules of Netiquette when communicating online. Teach your kids to always be courteous to other Web users and avoid participation in flame wars.
- Make sure your kids stick to safe websites and chat rooms.
- Make sure your children aren't posting sexual or suggestive images on social networking websites or blogs.
- Don't pick a username that would make you a target for cyberstalkers.
- From the moment another Internet user makes you feel threatened or uncomfortable, seek to cut off all communication with him or her.
- If a cyberstalker has started calling, sending mail, or accosted you in real life, involve law enforcement immediately. If a cyberstalker has taken his or her actions offline, they may have serious intentions to harm you.