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A cyber victim can be a victim of various crimes committed via Internet, email, or texting. Anything that takes place in cyber space, all our electronic or Internet means of communication, can potentially produce cyber victims. Frequently, the term cyber victim now refers especially to young adolescents and teens, who fall prey to what are called cyber bullies, people who intentionally plan to hurt, embarrass, or abuse others by publishing either true or false information regarding them, in forums where that information will be seen by many people.
One simple way in which people can become cyber victims is through receiving insulting or inoffensive chat messages from anonymous people. In an Internet chat, a cyber bully may simply try to engage others by sending crude, rude or hurtful messages. They may deliberately send overtly sexual messages to children, type in numerous swear words, or if they have the person’s email address, start sending obscene pictures.
This can happen to people of any age, but children should be duly cautioned. It’s easy to think that everyone on the Internet is going to be “nice,” and kids may be overly trusting. If offensive messages get sent, kids should alert their parents immediately. A cyber victim of this type should not respond to the person sending the message, and people, in general, should never give out personal information, including email addresses to people they don’t know.
A more direct version of cyber bullying occurs among teens, and is analogous to bullying in high school or junior high. Unfortunately, because of the more communal nature of cyber space, cyber bullies can victimize their peers to a much larger audience, which can be embarrassing, saddening, or devastating to students. Students may post true or false information about other students online, post pictures of students in compromising situations, or relay detailed private information about other students.
Since this bullying happens on a large scale, the effects can be devastating to the cyber victim. Offensive rumors, or discussion of deeply personal information may significantly affect peer relationships. In these cases, cyber bullying may be easier to stop if the bullying is occurring between one student and another, since the school may be able to intervene. However, it isn’t always possible to end this kind of bullying, since there are numerous ways to post material anonymously, and a school cannot exert control over all Internet of cyber space forums. For instance, if a student texts negative messages about or sends embarrassing pictures of a person to a number of friends, the school may not be able to end such bullying and harassment.
The cyber victim may also be defined as anyone who is taken in by an Internet scam. These can include attempts to gain illegal access to a person’s bank account, attempts to solicit money, or other means for getting personal information about someone, like passwords to his or her computer, which is then used in a damaging or illegal way. Another form of cyber victim is the person who posts an innocent video or comment on the Internet and then is subject to vitriolic or offensive commentary. Alternately, a cyber victim may be a person against whom false accusations are made which results in the person being stripped of rights to use different Internet forums.
There are attempts in many countries to stop the various forms of scams, Internet bullying, sexual solicitations of minors, publishing of offensive material, and any illegal activities. These remain challenging to completely end, and especially newer Internet users are most likely to become cyber victims. It’s very hard to police the Internet, since people may be able to post or email anonymously, and may reroute their information so it’s impossible to determine the source.
Even though the Internet can be a terrific medium for bringing people together, the number of cyber victim cases continues to grow, prompting concern. The potential benefits of the Internet and various other cyber venues are regularly exploited to the detriment of others. People who use cyber space to hurt others create an unsafe environment, which all cyber communications users should enter with due caution.