Harassment and discrimination. Something which I hope you all never have to experience online, however, throughout our lives we may come across people who wish to do us harm, by calling us names or even going as far to not leaving us alone. This is as evident in the real world, as it is on online gaming forums and social networking sites! There’s no escaping it. I know we’ve already spoken about the growing amount of bullies within virtual communities like World of Warcraft, masking themselves with their avatars they have created. Though, not everyone who discriminates hides behind a virtual reality.
The rise of online networking and the use of social media has seen a growth in a new type of bullying, with regards to harassment and discrimination. People may release inappropriate photographs to you, or of you or make offensive and threatening comments towards you. It may even go as far as intimidation with harassers online threatening to invade your personal life, by spying on you or turning up at your home unannounced. This is not good.
Harassment can make you feel very distressed, isolated, degraded and offended. Some victims may not even want to come forward when they are getting attacked online. Harassment and discrimination distract us from achieving our goals. People may you treat you less favourably because of a personal characteristic (for example, their race or sexuality) and present you with other general unreasonable and cruel behaviour due to this. Harassment can be between two individuals or it may involve groups of people. It might be obvious or it might be insidious. It may be persistent or an isolated incident.
It’s important to protect ourselves whilst we are online as it can be hard to recover from the fear and distress caused by this kind of behaviour. There are a lot of organisations that can help you, as It can be very hard to spot that you’re getting harassed, a single incident might not seem very significant until you realise its part of a pattern. If you notice that you are getting harassed online it’s important to help yourself by keeping a record of what’s happened, and anything that’s been sent and said to you online. This will make things a lot easier for you in the long run, and help to speed things up if you feel you are in danger. Remember, Harassment is a criminal offence. If you are being harassed, report it. You will be taken seriously. If the bullying or harassment is targeted at you because of your disability, gender identity, race, religion or sexual orientation, this type of incident is a ‘hate incident’ or ‘hate crime’.
What can YOU do about?
- First of all, it’s important to remember that you are not alone in this situation, there are people are support groups out there to offer help and support when you’re feeling isolated. Discussing your problems with friends and family make a huge difference, they will offer their advice on what to do, and guide you in your situation.
- There’s a page in which you can report any unwanted behaviour online if you feel too scared to directly talk to the police. http://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force
- The police take hate crime very seriously and will record and investigate this offence even if you do not want to give your details.