Warnings Over Cyberbullying

27 January 2011, 05:00 | Updated: 10 February 2011, 14:11

Heart's being told how you could get a criminal conviction for some things you put on facebook, twitter or email.

Suffolk Police is asking users of social networking sites to be aware of their actions and warning people that if they are involved in cyber bulling they could be committing a criminal offence and will be dealt with accordingly.  

Cyber bullying is when an individual or a group of people use modern technology such as email, instant messaging, text messaging or social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, to intimidate and bully someone. Police say cyber bullying can be abusive, causing distress humiliation and embarrassment for the victim.

Police also say that those who take part in online bullying often use a group of friends to target their victims. They can ask others to add a comment to a photo on a blog, or forward something embarrassing onto another group of friends and that
sometimes, these people do not even realise they are actually bullying someone.

The Government’s ‘Laugh and you’re part of it’ campaign explains how young people might be involved in cyberbullying and encourages them to think how they would feel if they were the victim.

Chief Inspector Kerry Pauling says:

"We are seeing an increase in the amount of reported offences where Facebook was referred too and we want people to realise the harm that they are causing. Often young people will be acting as part of a group without thinking about their actions or the victim, but you must realise that by simply passing on videos or images, or making comments on something online you are playing your part in the bullying and are therefore as guilty as anyone else."

Chief Inspector Pauling also warns people that sometimes cyber bullying can be interpreted as a hate crime and will be investigated by the police.

"A hate crime may be motivated by prejudice against an individual’s sexual orientation, sex, religion, race or disability. We take this type of crime very seriously and although individual incidents may appear minor in nature to some, they are far more serious when part of a pattern of behaviour directed at members of a minority group.

Anyone involved with any sort of cyber bullying should consider what you are doing, how it could be effecting your victim and how it could effect you. Your actions can be very distressing and could land you with a criminal record."

If someone is bullying you on your own social profile page, police have given tips you can follow, which if necessary can help them investigating these types of offences:

·    Keep and save any bullying emails or images you have been sent.

·    Take a screenshot of any comments that are threatening, but then
delete them so you don’t have to read them again.

·    Make a note of the time and date that messages or images were
sent, along with any details you have about the sender.

·    Try changing your online user ID or nickname.

·    Do not reply to any bullying messages or get into any online

Police are asking people who may think that they are a victim of cyber bullying or if they see or read something on the internet that makes them feel uncomfortable, to tell a parent or someone else you trust. You can also report it to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) or speak to Childline or the NSPCC.

If you feel you have been a victim of a hate crime Suffolk Police are asking you to contact them on 01473 613500 or the Suffolk Hate Crime Service on
01473 668996 who have experienced officers who can provide support for victims.