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Cruelty: What is it?


Using digital platforms to intentionally make other people's lives miserable. For example: blackmail (making demands in exchange for not revealing something embarrassing or damaging about the victim); hate-mongering (spreading discriminatory, racist messages); direct threats, etc...

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    We know that you know that threats, blackmail, and hateful speech are weak ways to express yourself. So, we'll skip the Q & A and just give you the facts about dealing with it if it's happening to you or a friend.

    1. Yes, words on a screen CAN really hurt someone.

      Words ARE power. Posting, forwarding, or messaging any kind of hateful or discriminatory speech about a person's race, color, creed, sexual orientation, etc. is insulting, embarrassing, and hurtful. If you or a friend are suffering because of something posted online, remember that you're not weak or a victim—just a person with feelings. It would be weird if this stuff didn't make you feel bad. Unless you're a robot. Assuming you're not a robot... keep reading.

    2. If you're the one getting hurt, you're not alone.

      First off, remember that nobody is immune. No matter what your race, creed, color, or preference (in partner, hairstyle, clothes, music, or anything else)—someone can always find something to hate on. Talking about it with someone instead of bottling it up will relieve some of the frustration (cause you can't control or confront the person spewing the stuff). Vent! Online cruelty hurts. And if a friend is upset by hateful or cruel posts or messages, practice good listening. They need you. Finally, be part of the solution by reporting this kind of stuff when you read/receive it.

    3. Practice zero tolerance.

      You don't need special glasses to recognize when words cross the line. Instead of ignoring them, playing along, or responding (it doesn't help, usually it just makes it worse), practice zero tolerance. Whether it's hate speech or threats, report it and hug someone. Haters hate hugs.

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    • The person/group targeted by the abuser is embarrassed.
    • The person/group targeted by the abuser responds violently.
    • The postings incite real-life violence against a person/group.
    • The postings result in the arrest of the abuser.
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    • Don't doubt your instinct. If something posted online or texted/IM'd to you feels wrong or threatening, tell the service provider, site admin, and a friend, parent or teacher.
    • Secure your info. Privacy settings are there for a reason. Use them.
    • Protect your identity. Don't post school/team names, or photos with landmarks, license plate numbers, or your address. People online don't need to know where you live.
    • Don't delete. Messages, posts, and comments with threatening or hateful content are worth saving—not for nostalgia, but as evidence, should you need it.
    • Shed your skin. If reporting harassment doesn't stop it, consider a fresh start with a new online ID/email address. What's in a username, anyway?
    • Be sincere. If you wouldn't say it face-to-face, don't say it online.
    • Be zen. It's no fun harassing you online if you don't respond. So...don't respond. It will only make it worse.

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Delete Digital Abuse: Get Help NOW!

If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency call 911.