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Cyber Harassment; how can you protect your children?

By Jennifer Bechdel on December 8th, 2007

As we continue to turn toward an increasingly digital existence to do business, to connect to people, to learn; so to will criminals and other unsavory characters turn to the virtual world to conduct their business. These persons will continue to devise new methods of manipulating us through technology. It appears however, that our judicial systems are not evolving at an equitable pace. This was especially true in the Megan Meier case, where the myspace page owner that was leaving nasty, threatening remarks which led to Megan’s suicide, was not found to be guilty of harassment or any other charge.

 I work with a group of close-knit, young females and it is a rare day that I don’t hear about some kind of myspace drama happenings. However, these theatrics seldom get any more harassing then a rude remark from a friend of a friend about someone’s less then stylish outfit or haircut. But what do you do when the messages become nasty, threatening and persistent?

 One company, featured this evening on 20/20, called Reputation Defender, offers services such as its “Search and Destroy” option, which scours the internet to find anywhere your name or picture, is being used online. It then presents the information to you, at which point it also makes suggestions about what information could be damaging to your reputation. Once you know what’s out there, the company attempts to remove the negative information from the internet. Another service the company offers is “MyChild”, which attempts to do basically the same thing as the search and destroy, but it concentrates predominately on social websites such as myspace, facebook, livejournal and other blogs. The company’s stance is that parents should try to find out the information about their kids before their kids have a chance to see it. If Reputation Defender can find it first, it will save your child the heartache or embarrassment of their information being passed around online.

 We may not have adequate laws yet to deal with cyber criminals, but being aware of what is being said about your children online and taking a more proactive stance about getting rid of information which could be hurtful to your child, could go a long way in protecting your child from the heartbreak of needless harassment