Protecting Children by Preventing Cyber Bullying - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Region 8 -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Protecting Children by Preventing Cyber Bullying

May 18, 2007 - Posted at 9:12 p.m. CDT

REGION 8 -- More than 43% of teenagers say they've been the victim of a cyber bully within the past year.  Law officers say online taunts and text-message threats are on the rise in the mid-south. 

You don't have to tell Mark Neblett words can kill.

"She was full of smiles, always. Laughter...she loved life," said Neblett.  

But for Neblett's 17-year-old daughter, Rachel...life became terrifying. She was crushed by threats from an anonymous cyber bully who stalked her and posted her every move online.

"That person -- whoever it was -- knew every move she made. Started talking about what she was doing at school, where her classes were," said Neblett, "Then the last letter that we got, or she got, stated that they weren't going to put her in the hospital, they were going to put her in the morgue."

In October, Rachel took her own life.

"Five years ago, we did not have this; it was unheard of," said Natolyn Dunigan, Department Director of Pre-Trial Services.

Cyber bullying through e-mail, web-sites, and text messaging is on the rise.  Police get call them intimidation complaints----threatening people though internet websites like MySpace, e-mails, and text messages on cell phones and blackberries.     

"For some reason, people think contact is physical contact.  But contact is contact directly or indirectly...and what they usually do, they call or text message," said Dunigan.     

That usually gives victims at least one advantage.        

"By being a text message or an e-mail...it's easier to document what is going on," said Dunigan.

Dunigan says keep records of the threats, report them to police, and follow through with an order of protection.

"Better to be safe than sorry, come down give a statement and let someone know what is going on," said Dunigan.   

Because what's going on with your children...could push them to the breaking point like Rachel Neblett.    

"To her, this was just overwhelming," said Neblett softly, "Another family shouldn't have to go through what we went through.  They shouldn't."

National agencies are dedicated to stopping cyber bullies...log onto the National Crime Prevention Council at www.ncpc.org or www.stopbullyingnow.com or www.wiredsafety.com to find out more.

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