Attorney General Kane Issues Warning on Cyberbullying

HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today underscored the dangers of cyberbullying, an issue that has become more commonplace with the increasing popularity of social media and electronic applications.

Cyberbullying is defined as bullying that takes place through electronic devices, such as cell phones and computers. Attorney General Kane encourages students, parents and educators to be mindful of the issue, which has been a factor in some reported suicides across the country.

Here are suggested steps to take when faced with cyberbullying:
  • Do not respond and do not forward hurtful messages or photos.
  • Record the date, time and description of instances when cyberbullying has occurred.
  • Save and print screenshots, emails and text messages.
  • Block the cyberbully.
  • Report the incident to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.
  • Report cyberbullying to your school if the bullying is creating a disruptive environment in the classroom or leading to in-person bullying.
  • Report cyberbullying to law enforcement if it includes: threats of violence; child pornography; sending sexually explicit messages/photos; taking a photo or video of someone where they expect privacy; or stalking/hate crimes.
Cyberbullying is not limited to high school students. In many cases, younger children who have grown up with computers and the Internet have a vast knowledge of technology and engage in online bullying. There is often extensive bullying behavior in middle school-aged children. Here are some other facts about cyberbullying:
  • Kids who are cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well.
  • Kids who are cyberbullied have a more difficult time getting away from the behavior.
  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and messages can be received by children even when they are in the presence of an adult.
Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

--Use alcohol and drugs.
--Skip school.
--Receive poor grades.
--Exhibit lower self-esteem.

Lastly, here are important tips for parents to keep in mind concerning cyberbullying:
  • Know what websites and apps your children are downloading and using on their tablets and phones. Popular apps include Yik Yak, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Ask for your child's password(s).
  • Tell your child that you may review their online communications if you think there is a reason for concern.
  • Install parental control software or monitoring programs on tablets, laptops and computers.
  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they or someone they know is being cyberbullied.

The Office of Attorney General's Education & Outreach Section presents programs on Internet and social media safety to schools and community groups. The programs are free of charge.

Organizations interested in materials, speakers or presentations should contact the Attorney General's Education and Outreach Section at 800-525-7642 or via email at education@attorneygeneral.gov .
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