Cyber Bullying Isn't Just For Teens: What I Took From BlogHer11 At Home

Cyber bullying… It is everywhere.

Facebook, blogs, twitter… anyplace you can imagine… it is there. But why?  People wouldn’t feel that this type of harassment is ok in day-to-day life, of course because most know it is illegal and they would most certainly face criminal charges.

But little do these bullies know… harassing someone online, and cyber bullying is also illegal and can be punished in various forms, and I didn’t even learn that until this past weekend after being in the blog world, and being harassed online for almost a decade.

It originally started when I was 17 by an ex boyfriend and his friends, and it seems like with the websites like Myspace, Facebook, and back then it was Livejournal… the harassment did nothing but grow. Between rude comments, false statements about me, rumors, and of course the typical fake profile imitating and mimicking me, it made the internet simply unpleasant. I took quite the vacation… in fact my apartment in North Carolina didn’t even have an internet connection for the first three months I was there…  Hard to believe right?

Once I moved back to Connecticut in the mid 2005ish time frame, I think it was actually fall that year I began to get back into the internet community, and nothing ever changed.

Since that time I have had to call the police, as well as FBI… no joke because most of the harassment I had experienced crossed state lines.  Just when I thought most stopped… it started up again with the same two people.  One local, one not… you have to wonder how anyone can think harassing behavior is acceptable. Ever.  Especially for mothers!

But this week I took the time to read the transcript from the cyber bullying session at BlogHer 11 in San Diego.  One of the sessions I was most interested in checking out. I am really glad that the transcripts were available this year as well. I was able to take a lot away from it…  a lot!

It is amazing the levels people will go to, but what is most amazing is that as time goes on and this is becoming more of a problem, police departments are finally starting t take the problem seriously and actually take criminal action against these people.  There are also lawyers out there who are starting to specialize in Defamation stemming from the internet.  HALLELUIAH!  Finally!   And you can bet your bottom dollar I have kept a file of all of my harassment encounters like the panel in the session suggests.

One of the amazing panel members Erin Vest, also known as The Queen of Spain said:

But you need to document everything, even if you don’t think it crosses the line. Document it. Keep it in a folder and when you get really uncomfortable, you take it to your local authorities. They may not be able to do anything about it, but they need to start a file, as Elisa said. You must start a file and you must have them at least document it.
And then when the day comes where they do cross a line in your state that is considered a threat, you already have this nice big documented folder at either your sheriff’s station or local police station and on your computer with all of your screen shots and everything else. They are ready to move on it. The detective has a little less work to do because in a way you have done it for him or her. So make sure you document absolutely everything.

If you could only see some of the files I have, it would make you wonder why people have nothing better to do!

The other panel member, Andrea Weckerle also included:

If you’re put in something called false light or appropriation of your identity, if somebody is assuming your identity, you can pursue a civil case.
There are pros and cons to taking that course of action. You have to find out how much it will cost you from a money perspective, from an emotional perspective. Things often get worse before they become better. But you do have legal recourse in a lot of cases. You just need to really, really become familiar with what your legal rights are.

Writers… KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!  Know what action you can take! And know that you do not have to tolerate people harassing you!

Audience member Patty Fitzgerald said:

One of the things that I find is that I really like how you said take it to the brick and mortar world. There seems to be a disconnect. We think of the real world and we think of online. It’s really just an extension and I do think that it’s important not to feed the troll but also to document all of that.

Another great point. This is not acceptable behavior in the real world, it shouldn’t be acceptable online… ever. One thing I have also noticed is with the new generation of middle schooler’s, and teens… they find if this behavior is acceptable online then it must be acceptable in school, home, or in their day-to-day lives.   It is not. And it is NOT!   We need to start to teach these children that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Long story short, even though I wasn’t able to physically go to BlogHer this year I was still able to take a ton away from it.  Thank you to the panel members for putting their time, and resources into this amazingly helpful session. I am also looking forward to reading through the other sessions that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet.  They are long, and I have three kids, and a job. LOL!

For those of you who went to the conference, any sessions you highly recommend?

They aren’t learning these behaviors from strangers either.  They are learning it from parents who have started the cycles.  Apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree right?

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