Harassing E-Mails & Other Internet Harassment!
On-Line Safety Tips
- Use a gender-neutral username/e-mail address.
- Use a free e-mail account such as Hotmail (www.hotmail.com) or YAHOO! (www.yahoo.com) for newsgroups, mailing lists, chat rooms, IMS, e-mails from strangers, message boards, filling out forms and other on-line activities.
- Do Not give your school e-mail address to anyone you do not know or trust (see above).
- If you have children, instruct them to NEVER give out their real name, age, address or phone number over the net, especially without your permission.
- Do Not provide your credit card number or other information as proof of age to access or subscribe to a web site you are not familiar with.
- Lurk on newsgroups, mailing lists and chat rooms for about a week, before ďspeakingĒ or posting messages.
- Donít be so trusting on-line ó donít reveal personal things about yourself until you really and truly know the other person.
- Block or ignore unwanted users. Whether you are in a chat room or using IM, you should always check out what options/preferences areavailable to you.
Is It Truly Harassment? What To Look For
First, you need to determine whether or not what you are experiencing is truly harassment.
- If someone simply disagrees with you, however strongly or unpleasantly, that is not harassment.
- Someone who sends a single e-mail message that isnít overtly threatening probably hasnít harassed you.
- Spam, while very annoying, is not harassment.
- Messages posted to any open venue, such as a newsgroup, a web-based board, an AOL discussion forum or a chat room, are seldom truly harassing, unless they are forged to appear to come from you or contain direct threats or libelous statements. The same goes for things said on someone elseís website.
- Harassment usually involves repeated communications via e-mail or some sort of instant messaging program after the harasser has clearly been told to go away.
- Harassment consists of the intentional crossing of your emotional or physical safety boundaries. You must have boundaries set in place clearly in order for that to apply.
- The legal definition of harassment, according to Blackís Law Dictionary is:
ďA course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such person and serves no legitimate purpose; or words, gestures, and actions which tend to alarm and abuse (verbally) another person.Ē
- It can be further qualified as ďany actions that meet the qualifications of the above definition after the harasser has been told to cease.Ē
- Cyber-stalking is a specific kind of harassment. The Department of Justice defines Cyber-stalking as ďthe use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a personís home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a personís property.Ē
- Cyber-stalkers frequently follow their targets around the net, frequenting chat rooms, message boards, newsgroups or mailing lists in which the target participates. At times they will also attempt to form relationships with those who are friendly with the target in order to get more information about the target.
What To Do If You Need Help!
First, you must clearly tell the harasser to stop. Generally speaking, it is unwise to communicate with the harasser. However, as soon as you determine that you are truly being harassed by someone, you must very clearly tell that person to stop. You do not need to explain why, just state that you do not want the person to contact you in any way in the future.
Do Not respond to any further messages of any sort from the harasser. Do Not have anyone else contact the harasser on your behalf. It is common practice for the harasser to claim that you are harassing him/her, but if you arenít contacting the person, then it is clear that you arenít the harasser.
Call ISU Public Safety and ask to speak to a Public Safety officer regarding any on-line incidents.
If you are being physically threatened, you must involve law enforcement. Contact your local police department and Public Safety.
If you believe yourself and/or your children to be in immediate danger, please dial 911.
Complain to the appropriate parties. If you are harassed in a chat room, contact whoever runs the server you were using. If you are harassed on any kind of instant messaging service, read the terms of service and harassment policies they provide and use any contact address given there. If someone has created a website to harass you, complain to the server where the site is hosted.
If you are being harassed via e-mail, complain to the senderís ISP and any e-mail service (Hotmail) used to send the messages.
Save EVERYTHING! Do not delete messages, chat logs, websites, etc. Place them in a separate folder on your hard drive or onto a floppy disk/zip disk or CD-ROM, and print out a hard copy. If you receive any phone calls from the harasser, have them traced immediately (your local phone company can tell you how to do that). If you receive any kind of postal mail or other off-line communications, save them and any envelopes, boxes, etc. they came in.
Do not destroy any evidence, and do not handle it more than absolutely necessary, and do not permit anyone else to do so. Immediately turn the evidence over to Public Safety or the local police. Place envelopes, letters, etc. in plastic bags to protect any possible fingerprints.
ISU Public Safety 282-2515
Pocatello Police 234-6100
Idaho Falls Police 529-2100
Anderson Resource Ctr. 282-2805
Salt Lake City FBI 801-579-1400