According to the Issaquah Press, in 2011, "then 12-year-old Leslie Cote was the victim of cyberbullying, as two classmates hacked into her social media page and posted altered photos, including one with 'I’m a slut' superimposed on it."
For parents and educators wondering what this tactic is: it's called an Imposter Profile, when the cyberbully sets up a fake website or profile (or hacks into a real one as in this case) and gets the profile's followers to believe it is genuinely owned by the target. This kind of tactic has a lot of power and the cyberbully can do immense reputation damage in a very short time. Another subtactic the cyberbullies used was "slut-shaming"--to try and publicly make Leslie feel guilty or inferior for certain sexual behaviors (even when she didn't engage in them!)
The article further states the cyberbullies altered their attacks by using "the site’s instant messaging service to act as Leslie to proposition boys for sexual acts." Again, this is still using the Imposter Profile tactic, only now the cyberbullies were actively communicating through IM as though they were Leslie with the sole purpose to embarrass and defame her reputation. Subsequently, the girls were charged with cyberstalking and first-degree computer trespassing.
The summer after this incident, Leslie wouldn't even go outside all summer as one of her cyberbullies lived in the same building as her.
Now Leslie is in high school with some of the girls who cyberbullied her and even has to sit next to one of them in one class. But, luckily, the support of her family and her own strength and resilience has helped her gain perspective.
As the article quotes her mother Tara: "Leslie said she’s not angry with the girls anymore, but it has taken her some time to get to that point. At first, you have anger, you’re upset and you have rage, but now I think she feels more sorry for them."
For anyone who has ever been cyberbullied, it's gratifying to know there are kids like Leslie out there who refuse to let the traumatic incident forever define them. Good for you, Leslie. Stay strong and thank you for helping other kids after what you've been through.
To read the full article: http://www.issaquahpress.com/2014/03/25/cyberbullying-victim-puts-past-behind-her/
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