Police keeping an eye on bullies

HARLINGEN — As a precautionary measure, the Harlingen Police Department is warning parents, children and adults about the dangers of cyberbullying.

I’m sure you’ve seen the cases in other states and in Texas of kids and adults who have been bullied to the point when they commit suicide or hurt someone else.

That is something, the police department is trying to prevent.

Despite the growing issue in the United States, cyberbullying is barley a blip on the radar in Harlingen.

“We do get them but not as bad as other areas,” Officer Larry Moore said. “There has been no spike in activity.”

With the advent of the internet and social media, the ability to bully anyone from anywhere has become easier.

Bullies now have the ability to stalk and harass their victims after school hours, on weekends and breaks.

Bullies have long been using social isolation, public humiliation and malicious gossip to torment others.

Now with high speed computers, tablets, and smart phones, bullies can message instantly to millions, dramatically increasing their powers of manipulation.

Officer Larry Moore said there are detectives within the department who handle these cases specifically.

“We want people to be on the look out for this type of thing,” he said.

Cyberbullying can be as simple as continually sending emails to someone who has indicated that they want no further contact, but also include threats, sexual remarks, hate speech or other forms of humiliation.

Kids who cyber bully others are often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration.

Cases like these are tagged as harassment with law enforcement, Moore said.

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Examples of Cyberbullying

• Instant messaging/ text messaging harassment: Cyberbullies may send hateful or threatening messages.

• Websites – Cyberbullies may create websites specifically designed to insult another kid or group.

• Sending threatening pictures, porn, and instant messaging through email and cell phones.

• Stealing passwords – A cyberbully may steal victim’s passwords and change the profile (to include racist, sexual, and inappropriate content)

• Sending malicious code – Many Cyberbullies will send viruses, spyware and hacking programs to their victims.

• Impersonation – Cyberbullies may pose as the victim and post provocative messages in a chat-room inviting attacks. The Cyber bully often gives out the victim’s name, address and telephone number.

• Blogs – cyberbullies sometimes use blogs to damage other kids’ reputation or invade their privacy.

• Internet polling – Who’s hot? Who’s not? Who is the biggest loser? These types of questions (polls) run rampant on internet poll created by teens

• Interactive gaming – Gaming devices allow kids to communicate by chat and live internet phone with anyone gaming online. Participants may verbally abuse other kids, using threats and lewd language.