Texting As A Way To Control Behavior?
Digital abuse is a growing form of abuse, particularly among teens.
According to Pew Research conducted in 2007:
70 percent of teens talk daily with friends on a cell phone,
60 percent send text messages daily,
54 percent send instant messages,
47 percent send email messages daily over social networking sites, and many teens are blogging.
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1 in 4 teens in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed or put down by their friends or dating partners more through cell phones and texting.
A study of stalking by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics released last month confirmed that stalking by texting has become a pervasive problem.
The report found 23 percent of stalking or harassment victims reported in 2006 that the stalker had used some form of cyber stalking, such as cell phone texting or e-mail, to harass them.
Texting is a huge part of today’s teen’s lives and this fairly unchecked and censored digital space has created new challenges for teens as they start to experience intimate relationships. Texting abuse in the digital world is increasingly becoming a serious problem unique to the generation of teens.
Cell phones and the Internet has become prime environment for “controlling behavior,” such as sending unwanted text messages or pressuring for nude pictures that can be abusive or lead to relationship violence.
In Massachusetts textual harassment could be viewed as Criminal Harassment, Ch 265 Sec. 43A [Misdemeanor] and becomes a crime if the texter willfully and maliciously engages in a pattern of conduct or series of acts [at least 3 incidents] in which the text would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional duress.
The texting could be considered < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />Stalking, Ch. 265 Sec. 43[Felony] is all of the above listed under Criminal Harassment occurs and the text sent also involves a threat with intent to cause imminent fear of death or serious bodily injury.
Criminal harassment and stalking are identical offenses, with the exception that Stalking has the added element of a threat. It is the threatening component that turns Stalking into a Felony.
Willful and malicious intent is another requirement included in most textual harassment definitions. It means that the suspect acted intentionally and with a wrong motive.
I suggest that in order to further prove willful intent; you should put the harasser on notice and tell this person that you do not want to speak to them and for them to stop texting. If the harasser persists after this clear message, it will be easier to prove that the intent was to willfully harass.
Suggestions on what to do if you find yourself dealing with this:
- Contact the Police if harassment are threats.
- Photograph or document the message.
- Contact your carrier to block sender.
- Disable texting function on phone for a few days.
- If this involves younger children consider speaking to the other child [‘s parents or School Resource Officer.
There is a great website for teens and their parents called “Thatsnotcool.com.” This Web site offers teens some ways to respond to the so-called “textual harassment,” among other interesting information.
Source: A Web site sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Ad Council and Office of Violence Against Women offers a textual harassment forum where teenagers trade advice and experiences with overzealous or unwanted texting.