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Tips for tackling the scourge of cyberbullying

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/4/2013 (2754 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

ONCE you've sent a nude photo, you can never get it back. Or can you?

Robert Li pretended to be in romantic relationships with two women online, but then demanded they pay him $150,000 or he'd post their nude photos and videos.

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Cyberbullying, rampant among teenagers, includes stalking someone online, sending mean and dangerous messages, and generally displaying behaviour that is meant to harm others. That includes holding the threat of uploading provocative images over someone's head.

An increasing number of young people are using a smartphone app called Snapchat, software that lets people send photos and videos that delete themselves between one and 10 seconds later so the sender doesn't get caught.

Ian Trump of SkullSpace, an organization of volunteer computer enthusiasts, says it's best to avoid sexting.

"The ramifications are once you send something, you lose control of it," Trump said.

While SkullSpace does not actively engage in nude-photo damage control, Trump, treasurer of the company, provided some tips.

"If it's on a website, contact the website provider and ask for the information to be removed," Trump said.

"If you kind of freely gave the pictures away, there's very little you can do. If it was obtained internally, it could become a criminal matter."

Tim Woda is the co-founder of uKnowKids.com, a website that provides tips and services to parents regarding cyberbullying. He and his brother created the resource after Woda's son was targeted by an online predator.

"He accepted the friend request of a friend of a friend," Woda said. "Unfortunately for him, that person also happened to be a child predator."

Woda sought help from authorities.

"Law enforcement and FBI couldn't help me until harm came to him," Woda said. "So I ended up having to track the person down."

Woda found the predator, a schoolteacher, two weeks later. The predator is now serving a 40-year sentence for using the Internet to contact children and then molesting them.

The website uKnowKids focuses on educating parents on the technology their kids use by taking the data and research and repackaging them into digestible pieces.

"Moms and dads are way too busy to look through the 40,000 texts their kids send every year," Woda said.

cindy.chan@freepress.mb.ca

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