When bullying becomes harassment

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0-bXa5nuVo]

KIMT News 3 – As social media becomes more prevalent today, so do the harassing messages exchanged and it’s not just young people anymore.

Mason City Police say they’ve seen an increase in the number of online harassment claims over the past few years.

They say although the number of charges actually filed by victims is low, issuing harsher penalties can force folks to take the issue more seriously.

“It’s just as common with adults to see harassment with Facebook messages, with text messages. I think that technology has been around long enough now that really adults have embraced it even if it’s initially just to keep track of their kids,” said Officer Jeremy Ryal with the Mason City Police Department.

So when is the line between a simple joke and harassment crossed?

“Doing it in a way that’s likely to cause annoyance or harm to a person, then it becomes harassment under the State code. So that’s what were looking for. Is this a situation where the communication has no legitimate purpose,” said Ryal.

Chad Ackerman of Tree Town Technologies says he monitors social media on a regular basis and was surprised with what he saw.

“Sometimes I don’t believe that they think it’s bullying. They might just like giving somebody a bunch of noise you know. Just rib them a bit but that ribbing sometimes goes too far social media doesn’t stop with just kids,” said Ackerman.

Teen or adult,  the same rules apply and the hope is by labeling the term something we all take seriously, we can bring an end to cyber threats.

“I think it does give a sense that there’s a more urgent issue there when you start looking at it as a charge under the state code and not just under that big umbrella term of bullying,” said Ryal.

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