Look Out, Cyber Bullies, Reverse Phone Lookup Can and Will Find You
Emily, my son's 16-year-old babysitter confides in me a lot more often than her parents. I have a gift with kids: when talking to me, they feel understood and respected. She recently asked me for advice regarding a problem she's been having for months.
It appears there is a girl who's been consistently stalking and threatening Emily. She bugs her on MySpace, telling her to go kill herself before she kills her first. The juvenile terrorist somehow found out Emily's cell phone number and has been calling and texting threats from a blocked number. Emily has heard of the reverse phone lookup, but since the girl's number is unknown, she couldn't use it. In spite of Emily's repeated attempts to change her number, the other girl keeps getting her hands on her new number. Emily called the police but they were unable to help. She felt trapped because her tormentor told her she has already had run-ins with the law and wasn't afraid of being arrested. Poor Emily has obviously been driven to hysteria, so I had to be the voice of reason.
First, I introduced her to the relatively new, yet very serious concept of cyber-bullying, and explained that there are now laws that are on her side, enacted specifically because her problem is not unique. The little criminal's bravado about being unafraid of an arrest is just that: let her try it for a serious offense this time.
Second, if she ever gets a malicious text on school premises, she should report it to school officials, as it is their duty to intercede. It appears to be a network of two or more cyber-bullies working together: someone Emily knows and trusts must be supplying her nemesis with her new cell phone numbers as they change. I'd be willing to bet it's a school connection.
Third, why hasn't Emily talked to her parents?! Unfortunately, the police and the school are much more likely to take this issue seriously if the complaints and demands to do something come from adults.
As for the blocked number that has the cyber bully feeling so cocky and invincible, I told Emily there is a way to disclose it. A new free service called TrapCall allows cell phone users not only to reveal the Caller ID of anonymous callers, but also blacklist unwelcome calls. Once Emily knows this girl's number, she can run a reverse phone lookup to find out her name and address. When she confronts the police with concrete data, they'll listen. Imagine the expression on the little stinker's face when she opens the door to Emily and her parents flanked by police officers. She'll think long and hard before ever bullying someone again.