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By Jack Sinclair

The internet is great, so why is there always someone who screws things up? I'm talking about when people use the 'net to bully others in what becomes a cowardly, faceless crime. The bully can go on the attack without the victim ever looking them in the eye. What's worse is that this appears to be a growing trend with a recent survey indicating that 14 percent of teens using instant messaging have been threatened, while 16 percent have participated in bullying someone else through threatening comments delivered online.

The question of who is to be held responsible for stopping online bullying becomes complicated when you look at the case of Canadian teen David Knight whose face appeared on a website specifically constructed to bully him beyond the reach of the school boundaries.

The police state that internet bullying is difficult to deal with unless it turns into death threats or other criminal acts. Meanwhile, the ISP (internet service providers) who supply online space to these kinds of offensive projects state that they are not censors and shouldn't be put in the position to decide what's appropriate and what isn't. Okay, so who is going to be held accountable for cyber bullying that has the power to reach an audience of millions upon millions of people?

Stopping the Cyber Bully

  • Tell someone responsible that you're being bullied. This includes your parents, the police, the ISP (internet service provider), or the telecommunications provider (in the case of cell phones and abusive text messaging).
  • Keep your computer in an open area where others are aware of what's going on.
  • Do not erase or delete messages from the bully. They may provide information that will be useful in tracking them down.
  • NEVER agree to meet someone at a location offline.
  • Get help in doing some minor cyber sleuthing. Someone who is technically minded can sometimes access background information from the header of the email that will allow you to track the email back to the root domain or sender. Give this information to the police as well as the ISP and telecommunications provider. NEVER track the individual down yourself.

Beyond this, there are a few common sense things to remember. Don't open an email if it looks strange or is coming from someone you don't know. In all likelihood, if you think something doesn't seem right, it probably isn't. Finally, the most important thing to remember is that while the internet is great, you don't have to be surfing all the time. Keep hobbies, activities, friends and family a part of your daily life. Bullies don't deserve the satisfaction of making you unhappy.

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