Tuesday, 19 April 2016



Police Chief Robert Kowalski

When you hear about someone being bullied you get a picture of the guy at the beach kicking sand in the face of the smaller and weaker person.  We face a new phenomenon that has been termed as cyberbullying that is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. The electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, Smart phone, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools such as social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.

Examples of cyberbullying include derogatory, obscene or just "mean" text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or a posting on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Why is Cyberbullying different? Because people who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, studies have shown people who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.  Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach someone when he or she is alone at any time of the day or night. Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience and can oftentimes be difficult, sometimes impossible to trace the source. Finally, once something is posted deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been put on the internet or had been sent.

When cyberbullying happens, it is important to document and report the behavior so it can be addressed. Don’t respond to and don’t forward cyberbullying messages. Keep evidence of cyberbullying by recording the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred. Try to save and print screenshots, emails, and text messages so you can use this evidence to report cyberbullying to web and cell phone service providers.  If you can block the person who is cyberbullying you.

Be aware that cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers. Review their terms, conditions or rights and responsibilities sections of the sites that describe the content that is or is not appropriate.  Visit the online social media safety centers to learn how to block users and change settings to control who can contact you. Report cyberbullying to the social media site so they can take action against users abusing the terms of service.  In addition report cyberbullying to Law Enforcement especially when the cyberbullying involves threats of violence, stalking/hate crimes, child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos and taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy. Some states consider other forms of cyberbullying criminal so you can consult the States Attorney's Office and or the Sauk Village PD for additional guidance.

Lastly, cyberbullying can create a disruptive environment at your child's school and is often related to in-person bullying. The schools can and will can use the information you find to form a response strategies to address this issue.  Schools are required to address cyberbullying in their anti-bullying policy.  It should be noted some state laws also cover off-campus behavior that creates a hostile school environment.  Work with your schools administration if you find your child is a victim to this type of behavior. 

No one needs to be a victim of this type of behavior and it is important to report it in order to stop it.