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@ENFA2008 @SimonRStones Congratulations on your appointment Simon. Des

How can I deal with bullying?

Our forum is good natured for the most part but as with anywhere else there are always going to be problems that crop up.

Cyber bullying is an issue on the internet and most people will experience it at some point or know if someone that has.

But there is a lot you can do to protect yourself in the first place and to get abusive material removed quickly when you see it. The Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and YouTube sites will also have information on their websites that tell you what to do in order to report abuse or protect your privacy. We will try and add some links to this sort of information later.

Problems include:

  • Stolen identity
  • Threats
  • Blackmail
  • Rumours and gossip
  • Abusive Comments
  • Nasty pictures

Warning for younger people!
If you EVER come across anything on the internet, whether it's on a social networking website or anywhere else, where people are making suggestions to you that make you feel uncomfortable or upset, please tell your parents or another adult.

CEOP (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) investigates cases of sex abuse and grooming on the internet. Grooming is where people make friends with you and try to involve you in inappropriate activities. In the UK this behaviour is a criminal offence. You, your parents, or anyone else who is concerned, can report incidents by clicking the red button on the top right hand corner of the CEOP website.

Although the police can get information from your computer's hard drive, it's helpful if you don't delete anything you think is dodgy until the police have decided whether they need it as evidence.

Stolen identity
This happens when someone either hacks into your account or pretends to be you when they set up a new account. To prevent this try to pick an unusual password that uses letters and numbers and is at least 7 characters long. Don't use any part of your name or email address and don't use your birth date either because that's easy for people who know you to guess.  Don't let anyone see you signing in and if they do, or you think someone knows of your password then change it as soon as you can. It is a good idea to change your password regularly.

Rumours and gossip
The worst thing about social networking websites is that anything nasty posted about you can be seen by lots of people because it's so public. It's best to keep secrets and personal information to yourself. Only tell people things if it wouldn't embarrass you if other people found out about them.  The posting false and malicious things about people on the internet can be harassment.

Threats
Anyone who makes threats to you on the internet could be committing a criminal offence. It's against the law in the UK to use the phone system - which includes the internet - to cause alarm or distress.

It could also be against the 1997 Harassment Act. If threats are made against you then it's essential you record the details, keep the offending posts in your inbox and then if you decide to take it further you can make a complaint to the police.

If you can't print out the threats use the "print screen" button to take a snapshot of the computer screen and then save that in a word processing package or in your draft email folder. Without evidence it can be difficult to prove anything.

Abusive comments
It's tempting to have a go back if someone makes a rude posting on your webspace but don't!! This is called flaming and it just makes the problem worse.

Abusive comments are very upsetting but the best way to deal with them is to get them removed by the website staff or moderators. On our site you can report posts or personal messages. Retaliating can get you into more trouble than the person that has made the comments to you.

Instant messaging
There are quite a few instant messaging systems, they're a great way to have a chat with a friend. Skype, MSN and Google are three of the best known ways to IM. But if things turn nasty you can block people from seeing you are on line and you can save abusive conversations or print them out as evidence.

Nasty pictures
It's easy to snap off pictures on a mobile phone and upload them to the internet.  Make sure that you have the person's permission to take a picture and that they're happy for thousands of people to see it on the internet.

Don't upset people and then upload their pictures for other people to have a laugh. That could be harassment. Don't digitally alter pictures of people either because what you think is funny may be offensive to other people.  Don't let anyone take pictures of you that might embarrass you.

Personal Information
It is always wise no matter who the person you are talking to to be cautious about passing on any information that can identify you. It is relatively easy for someone to look through posts or elsewhere on the internet to piece things together. So do not post things like birthdays, telephone numbers or addresses without being very sure of the person you are giving it to.

And if you do pass this information on, then use private messaging or email rather than posting it on public forums.

Very important information
If you post abuse about anyone else on the internet, whether it's in places like Bebo, in games forums or message boards, or if you send threats in chatrooms or on IM like MSN, you can be traced by the police without any difficulty.

Every time you visit a website or make a posting, your internet service provider, ie AOL, BT or Virgin, has an electronic note of your activity. Even if you create an anonymous email address like hotmail or yahoo, you can still be traced.

Don't forget
Nothing is secret in cyber space and something you write now might damage your reputation or job prospects in future because many employers search the internet before they take people on.

You can find out more helpful informaiton and tips on keeping your information private and yourself safe online at the Microsoft Protect Yourself: Beyond the basics web pages.

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