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How Do I Prove Cyber Harassment?

Cyber bulling can take place via text message, e-mail, cell phone, or other means of virtual communication.
Proving cyber harassment may require printing copies of offending messages.
Cyber harassment can be proven by documenting online attacks and reporting them to authorities.
The issue of cyber harassment is of increasing concern to parents and caregivers.
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  • Written By: I. Ong
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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Cyber harassment is the crime of using Internet media, such as online messaging and Web pages, to intimidate or distress a specific individual. Proving cyber harassment requires creating solid documentation of the offender's actions, as well as finding reliable witnesses if possible. A professional opinion regarding the emotional effects of the harassment is also necessary.

Whatever form cyber harassment takes — it can range from false pictures and ads posted on your behalf, to sending you threatening messages — keep records. Print copies of such emails, blog posts, Web messages, and others directly from the website itself, using the print option from your Web browser’s Print button or File menu. This ensures the inclusion of essential details that might otherwise be left out when copying and pasting the text. Do not delete any such messages you might have from the offender. If you have engaged in online correspondence with the offender, preserve and print copies of your replies as well.

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Take a screenshot of the message or article in its original form, such as the email in your inbox or the post on the offender's blog, and print it. Do not attempt to edit the screenshots or the messages in any way before saving copies and printing them, as doing so will detract from their authenticity as valid documentation. If the message appears in a format that does not display the time and date of posting, note the time and date you saw the message. It is possible to ask the site administrator or email service provider for the pertinent details of the message and the offender, although not all will cooperate. Witnesses are more difficult to obtain on the Internet, but they may be helpful in cases where the offender later deletes the post in question and denies having performed any of the pertinent activities.

In some areas, the law for cyber harassment also includes electronic media such as text messages on mobile phones. If this should apply to your case, keep the text messages and take a picture of them with a camera. Remember to include the date, time, and number from which they were sent. Details of the sender may be requested from the telecommunications company with the help of an attorney.

Gathering documentation is enough to prove that the offender's actions happened. Based on some cases, however, you will also need to prove that they caused you sufficient distress for the actions to qualify as harassment. Meet with a psychologist, show him or her the printed copies you made, and request a professional opinion on the effects of such messages on their recipient. Request that you be tested and examined for negative effects resulting from the harassment, and obtain the results in written form. Visit another expert for written corroboration of the first doctor's results and analysis. These expert opinions can assist you in showing emotional distress suffered from the harassment.

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Discuss this Article

anon357496
Post 2

I received a message from someone I don't know on facebook. It's a hoax profile. It mentions my address, all names of people living in house and explains what gun they will use.

I'm not sure what to do. The police won't do anything since I don't know who it came from and it's a fake profile which has been deleted.

Mary Cole
Post 1

The internet is becoming a very dangerous place especially for our children. It's weird to be at home and still be in danger.

Thanks for providing the instructions on how to deal with cyber harassment!

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