While many countries have made cyberstalking illegal, the United States has not. Several states have passed various types of legislation addressing cyberstalking, but the resulting hodgepodge of cyberlaws typically requires proof of a plausible threat of violence toward the victim. Until the United States enacts federal legislation, criminalizing cyberstalking, most victims are left to fight cyberharassment on their own.
What Can You Do?
What you can do to protect yourself depends on the type of cyberstalking involved. Consider the following five factors when deciding how to proceed:
Who? In any situation where a child is threatened (cyberbullying), immediate adult intervention is a necessity. If it is a child harassing the child, the harasser’s parents and, possibly, the school administration should be contacted. If it is an adult harassing the child, contact the authorities immediately.
What? Depending upon other factors, name-calling, disrespect, lewd remarks and/or ridicule may or may not constitute harassment. Personally directed hate speech and physical threats are much more serious, requiring immediate intervention.
When? Cyberstalking typically requires repeated incidents of harassment. Not only does a single rant about a lost eBay auction probably not constitute cyberstalking, taking action against the one-time ranter prior to a subsequent incident may simply be poking a sleeping bear.
How? Even most state laws do not require physical, person-to-person, to make a case for cyberstalking. If cyberstalking does turn into real world contact, however, immediate intervention of the authorities is likely warranted.
Every case is different. Any impression that you are in physical danger, however, should trump the foregoing criteria and prompt a call to your local authorities.