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Cyber-bullying: you're not as anonymous as you think

 

 

BY LEXI BAINAS, CITIZEN FEBRUARY 24, 2012

 

 

It's aggression.

Bullying, even cyber-bullying is too tame a term for some of the attacks being carried out over the Internet, an expert in the field told senior students at Frances Kelsey Secondary School on Feb. 15.

It may have been the day after Valentine's Day but there was nothing sweet about the message from Darren Laur, a senior Victoria Police officer who also operates a company offering personal safety training.

He had a warning for those that think they can get away with hidden attacks: you're not as secret as you think you are.

Right at Frances Kelsey, Laur discovered a small group who were using Twitter as an attack weapon.

He mentioned this several times during his presentation, saying that it would be a really good idea to stop that immediately.

"Because, if anyone does themselves an injury because of this I promise you I will come after you and bring you before the courts. And I will find you. You can see that I can," he said.

The other side of social networking is that young people are beginning to use cyberspace to look after each other, becoming "digital first responders."

They're assisting law enforcement professionals who are sick and tired of dealing with this kind of attack by keeping people such as Laur in the loop, he said.

Four girls in Nanaimo have been charged following an incident in a mall parking lot last year where they beat up another girl and then posted a video of their work on YouTube.

Laur said he heard about that incident from many teens in Nanaimo that he'd met through his presentations.

With his investigative background, he was able to find the girls and get that information into the hands of the authorities, who then were able to charge all four.

"Enough is enough," he said.

So what kinds of bullying go on online? A popular sort is various kinds of polls such as: Who's the ugliest guy? Who's the sluttiest girl? Some people want to show off, or are seeking validation, love drama or want to get even.

Occasionally, students are even involved in committing crimes.

"In some places, I've had to have RCMP outside the door to pick up students," said Laur.

He's intervened and saved several young people from taking their own lives but it's not possible to reach everyone who's bullied.

Just about the hardest thing a police officer has to do is visit a home to tell parents their child has committed suicide because of a pitiless attack "by some coward behind a keyboard," he said.

He said he hates to hear anyone calling it bullying because "it's really peer aggression by a hostile group."

Attacks can also appear in texts, can involve password stealing, blogs or hate pages.

Some attackers even get others to do it for them, he said, urging anyone who finds him or herself a target to resist the urge to hit back. Ignore it, restrict access, block senders, report to your Internet server because that can often shut a perpetrator down, he said.

Save everything as evidence. Copy, screen-capture or otherwise ensure you've stored every bit.

And finally, take legal action, Laur said.

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