According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, "Forty percent of adult internet users have personally experienced some variety of online harassment."
Online harassment is when our digital space is invaded by threatening, unwanted messages, defamation and offensive language. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, it also includes tracking your Internet use and checking your email, or when your private information, photographs, videos and data are shared or exposed.
So, how do you deal with the challenges of online harassment?
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, you need to report the abusive behaviour so that the authorities can get involved. You should also know how to block people from contacting you online and report communications from your harasser to the website where the abuse is occurring.
Most widely used social networking sites have a strict anti-bullying policy and a help centre to address abuse. You can find links for the appropriate pages below:
It's also important to always know the privacy settings for the social networking sites that you use and how to set them up in a way that you are comfortable with.
The Australian Human Rights Commission also has useful tips on how to prevent online harassment. Below are some important notes:
Remember that any behaviour that makes you feel scared, hurt or embarrassed is never okay.
According to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN), "Under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) it is an offence to use the Internet, social media or a telephone to menace, harass or cause offence."
The Australian Government's Office of Children's eSafety Commissioner provides some useful information for children who experience cyberbullying, including how they can report it.
You can also visit the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) for more information.
If you are being harassed, please consult your local police website or station for more information.
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