Cyberbullying by proxy: The hidden monster in the closet

Parents, teachers and law enforcing authorities have been trying their best to find an answer to this simple question: What is Cyberbullying? The answer may be simple, but the activity has become a labyrinth for victims of cyberbullying and their parents. While the concerned parties were busy finding solution to how to stop cyberbullying, there emerged another monster on the scene of internet harassment, cyberbullying by proxy that proved to be even scarier and more nasty than the former, as it could not be detected easily.

In case of cyberbullying by proxy a cyberbully gets someone else to do their dirty laundry. The catch is that most of the times the accomplice is unaware that his/her identity is being used by the cyberbully.

The camouflage

In most cases reported or exposed, the cyberbully poses as the victim when it is cyberbullying by proxy. The perpetrator either hacks into the victims’ accounts or steal their passwords. In order to keep the victim unaware, the bully may set up a new account pretending to be the victim. No matter what strategies cyberbullies apply, their ultimate goal is to create problems for the victims, by pretending to be them and bullying others in their name.

Common strategies

The simplest form of cyberbullying by proxy is when the cyberbully sends hateful messages or harass people pretending to be the victim by using its account. The first thing cyberbullies do is change the password of victims’ accounts, so that they are not able to access their own account. While the victim remains unaware, the cyberbully creates havoc in his/her name, targeting as many people as they like because they know the brunt will be borne by the victim, while they escape unharmed.

Even more dangerous is when the cyberbullies plan to bring more harm to the victim in a limited time. The bullies don’t bother to create accounts in victims’ names. They just access chat rooms and discussion boards start posting hate messages and threaten others, posing as the victim. Extreme harm can come to the victims when cyberbullies post information of the victim in child molester chat rooms, discussion boards and websites. This makes the victim vulnerable to sexual predators online and offline.

Any counter strategy?

Parents are the first line protection for their kids against cyberbullying. From traditional means of security - communicating, monitoring online activities - to more sophisticated security checks in form of software and applications, parents can try to keep their teens from harms length.

Some relief may come from using online parental controls which enables parents to protect their kids online from potential cyberbullying and harassment.

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