As the new school year begins, take control of your identity and your person. Don’t be the target of cyberbullying, cyberstalking or sexual exploitation.
As technology has become more advanced, cyberbullying and cyberstalking have become easier. Be alert and have a plan for stopping and reporting bad behavior.
1. Signs of cyberbullying — Is someone sending, posting photos, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about you or a friend by text or by online social media apps or gaming apps? Cyberbullying isn’t always easy to spot, especially when it’s done by people who are supposed to be your friends. Some cyberbullying can cross the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
- Indicator: Repeated bullying can cause embarrassment, humiliation, or other harm.
- How to stop it: Take screen shots of the abusive behavior. Block the person, tell a trusted adult, and report the behavior to the social media site.
- Read more about cyberbullying.
2. Signs of cyberstalking — Is someone trying to scare or threaten you by repeatedly sending you texts or posts saying that they know where you live, they are watching you, or they are going to hurt you? Has someone tracked your personal and private information and used it to make you afraid?
- Indicator: Cyberstalking can cause fear or distress for personal safety.
- How to stop it: Take screen shots of the abusive behavior. Block the person. Tell a trusted adult. Report the behavior to the social media sites. If necessary, contact the police.
- Read more about cyberstalking.
3. Signs of AirTag stalking — Is someone showing up uninvited at your home or other places you may be? GPS and Bluetooth tracking devices like Apple AirTags, Samsung SmartTags, Tile Trackers, and Chipolo ONE are, unfortunately, making cyberstalking easier for people who may want to scare you or cause harm. Devices like these are the size of a quarter. They are easy to slip into a backpack, coat, car, or other personal belongings.
- Indicator: Tracking device stalking, which is another form of cyberstalking, can cause fear, distress or concern for personal safety or personal property.
- How to stop it: Apple, Samsung, Tile and Chipolo all have instructions on how to stop their tracking devices. For instance, if you have an iPhone, Apple has provided step-by-step instructions on how to set up your iPhone to notify you if there’s an unwanted AirTag on your person or in your personal property, as well as how to disable it. An unwanted AirTag may beep. You should also receive a notification on your iPhone. The beeping is known as an “anti-stalker” notification, given the rise in crime. Find the AirTag, tell a trusted adult, and contact the police.
- Read more about finding, blocking, disabling tracking devices.
If you experience any of these behaviors or if you feel pressured by a peer or adult to do something you are uncomfortable with, seek out a trusted adult and talk to them about the issue and your concerns.
General rules of safety:
- Don’t share images you don’t want seen on the Internet
- Keep your personal belongings to yourself
- Never give your personal information to strangers or people you don’t know well
About the Author
Takisha D. Richardson leads the Sexual Abuse & Sex Trafficking team at Cohen Milstein. She represents child sexual abuse victims and adult survivors of sexual abuse. She is the former Assistant State Attorney and Chief of the Special Victims Unit of the State Attorney’s Office for Palm Beach County, Florida.
The information contained herein is not legal advice and should not be interpreted as such. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer. Endorsements and past results do not guarantee, warranty, or predict any future outcomes.