Just a decade ago, most Los Angeles private detective agencies had never worked on a case involving cyberbullying, but as both Internet access and the use of social media have expanded rapidly, many California private investigators are receiving inquiries and being hired to investigate cases of cyberbullying and other criminal behavior online. At Kinsey Investigations, we are receiving more and more inquiries, especially from parents, about how they can protect their child from cyberbullying and whether there are specific laws or policies in place to combat cyberbullying. Children, parents, and educators from Bel Air to Brentwood and Malibu to Long Beach are grappling with questions and concerns such as these, and private detective services in California are arming themselves with the latest information and resources to do our part in this ongoing struggle. At Kinsey Investigations, our female private investigators are parents as well. Our Los Angeles detective agency gets recommended all the time for all kinds of family law cases, because we are known as the California private investigations firm with a heart. If you have questions such as “What is cyberbullying?” and “How can I support someone who is being cyberbullied?” we are here to share the information we have and help you keep up to date on this newest modern vehicle for one of the oldest antisocial behaviors of all time.
While bullying behavior is likely as old as humanity itself, cyberbullying, defined as ongoing, online communication with the intent to humiliate, threaten, extort or otherwise abuse someone, is a much newer phenomenon. The rise of cyberbullying can be traced back to the exponential expansion of Internet connectivity that took place in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Meanwhile, governments, schools, employers, and even the companies providing the Internet connectivity and creating the apps that use it, struggle to keep pace with what’s necessary to keep their users of every age group safe from online bullying and other antisocial online behaviors. California private investigators know just how serious and devastating cyberbullying can be, especially for tweens and teens who are trying to exercise more and more independence from their parents and can be incredibly vulnerable to both peer pressure and bullying behaviors both on and offline.
Parents, too, struggle mightily with the new landscape of Internet safety for their children, and are, more and more, turning to California private investigators for both information and assistance when they suspect or confirm that their child is being cyberbullied. The fast pace of technological advances, the proliferation of new apps and websites, and the tendency of children, especially teens, to develop communication techniques and styles unique to their own generation all complicate parents’ attempts to prevent cyberbullying and protect their children online. At Kinsey Investigations, we’re parents too. We have also worked for many families afraid for their children’s safety from all kinds of circumstances. And while anyone who’s not trying to sell you something will tell you, there’s no foolproof way to completely shield your children from cyberbullying, our female private detectives have some insight for parents turning to us for help.
Monitoring Online Usage:
Parents should do their best to find out how their children spend their time online by openly monitoring their devices, what apps they’re using and what sites they’re visiting. The safety reasons for this should be openly discussed and not framed as a lack of trust or a punishment. While it can be difficult, especially for parents of older tweens and teens, to be sure their children are disclosing the full extent of their Internet usage, parents do well to try to keep the lines of communication open and let their kids know that they always have a safe, judgement-free place to come if they have questions or concerns.
Specifically, parents should check browser histories, monitor email, messaging apps and chat functionality available through various server games and other platforms, and be aware of any social media sites their children use as well as the various groups or servers they’re joining and who they’re friending or otherwise connecting with via these applications. Some of this may need to take place directly on the child’s device, though many of these apps and sites offer parents remote monitoring functionality or the option to link accounts so parents can stay involved and vigilant.
If a parent has serious and/or time-sensitive concerns and fears they may not have the knowledge to thoroughly investigate their child’s device, Kinsey Investigations offers computer and cell phone forensics services. Our LA private detective agency partners with parents all the time, and we can help you make sure to leave no virtual stone unturned on your child’s device and in retracing their online footprints.
Checking in with Your Child:
Sometimes, the first signals that something is wrong may come from the children themselves before parents even discover anything from a device. Regularly checking in with your child, keeping up to date on their interests, their routines and preferences, and who their friends are can help parents recognize when something is wrong. Parents should watch for changes in their child’s behavior including who they’re communicating and hanging out with, if their habits around food and sleep change, and whether they suddenly become much more social or withdrawn. Losing interest in longtime hobbies or other activities can also signal that something is off, and parents shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions and investigate what has changed in their child’s life.
As of the writing of this post, there are no California laws specific to cyberbullying. However, California Penal Code 653.2 does identify behavior that “intentionally places another person in reasonable fear for their safety, or the safety of their family, by means of electronic communication without their consent to cause the person unwanted physical contact, injury, or harassment,” and any person who, “electronically distributes, publishes, e-mails, hyperlinks, or makes available for downloading personal identifying information such as a digital image of the person or an electronic message of a harassing nature about another person to incite or produce unlawful action” as guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and up to one year in county jail. If you are a parent worried about cyberbullying and unsure where to turn, give our offices a call. Our female private investigators are in the business of helping California families through all sorts of tough times and circumstances, from the oldest struggles in the book to the newest dangers online.