Victim tells of cyber bullying

ALEXIA JOHNSTON
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2013
jess wilson
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/ Fairfax NZ
BE AWARE: Jess Wilson was a victim of cyber bullying. She is now cautious about the technology she uses after her terrifying ordeal, which spanned two months.
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The cruelty of cyber bullying, now circulating in Timaru, is something Jess Wilson knows all too well.

She was about 19 when she started receiving sadistic emails, which often featured graphic images and implied that the sender wanted her to come to harm.

"The emails were: "I hope you die" and they had my name in them.

"There were pictures of skinned cow carcasses saying ‘this is what we want to do to you' and there was one [that had] a picture of a girl who had her throat slit and had the words ‘slut' carved into her chest."

Again, they had noted "this is what we want to do to you".

Miss Wilson believes she knew the people responsible for the terrifying emails.

The emails were often sent under the guise of characters from horror movies, including Norman Bates, from the film Psycho.

Initially Miss Wilson did not notice the emails because they were being filtered to her junk mail folder.

When she discovered what was happening she reported the matter to police in Christchurch, where she was living at the time, but there was little they could do.

"The police said because it wasn't a picture of my face they couldn't do anything about it."

She said police "pretty much said I had to be physically assaulted to do anything".

Miss Wilson's grandmother was dying at the time and she was trying to focus on her university studies. Although she was frustrated by how little the police could do, she believed there were possibly more important things for the law enforcers to focus on.

Even the threat of death was not enough.

"There were skulls saying I hope you die like your grandmother is about to."

She said going by that comment she realised the person or people responsible must have been known to her.

Miss Wilson said family and friends helped her remain strong, but life was tough for two months. She did not like leaving her home. She also changed her email address, phone number and passwords.

Miss Wilson also made contact with a cyber expert who specialises in preventing cyber bullying.

She said she was 90 per cent sure who the perpetrators were. Her message to them and to other cyber bullies is simple: "grow up".

Now she wants to see more power given to the police to deal with such cases.

"It would be nice if there was at least one person who had the resources available to them to chase it up without having to jump through one million hoops. They should be able to confiscate [technology] or scare the crap out of them."

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Timaru police have an officer dedicated to dealing with the problem of cyber bullying, but The Timaru Herald could not reach them for comment. That officer travels to schools throughout the district, talking to children about the issues surrounding cyber bullying.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Change passwords. Add people to a "blacklist". Talk to your cellphone provider on how to do this.

Be careful about who you give your number to. Do not give it to people you do not know and do not give out someone else's details without asking them first.

If you get a text from an unknown number or unwanted texts, do not reply. Download Vodafone Guardian, an Android app, which allows parents to choose who can call or text their child. It can also restrict access during specified times.

Other phone functions including the camera, the internet, Bluetooth or downloading apps can be "timetabled" or blocked altogether.

Helpful websites: netsafe.org.nz, vodafone.co.nz, telecom.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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