One of the best things about being a police officer specializing in online safety and Internet crimes is some of the stories I hear and have even been witness too. I wanted to share one particular incident involving a young girl who was a victim of cyberbullying on Facebook. The girl and her parents contacted their local police department about some bullying that had gone on for quite some time. It started in middle school but when the girl went off to one high school, the bully went to a different school. So the girl and her family thought the problems were over until the bullying started up again; this time, the bully started calling the girl’s cell phone from an unknown location and phone number, making threats and harassing her more than ever.
The family suspected who the bully might be but couldn’t prove it, and therefore had always faced problems when trying to get any help from their school. So when the bullying escalated into serious threats over the phone, the parents did the right thing by notifying the police. After some discussion about whom the bully might be and some advice on how the girl could better protect herself both online and over the phone, the parents asked to take a photo of their daughter with the police officer they had been in touch with. They then posted the photo on Facebook with the message: Please help me identify the person who has been calling me and leaving threatening messages on my phone. My parents have contacted the police and they are starting an investigation.
As you can probably imagine, the photo and message received many responses, including a phone call from a panicked young girl who was a so-called “friend” of the girl being bullied. She stated that she had loaned her phone to the bully (who she quickly identified was someone else) and said she was in no way responsible for making any threats. Thanks to the family’s outreach on Facebook, police were quickly able to identify those responsible and call them and their parents into the police department where they were educated on laws about making threats online and over the phone.