WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio –
With the rise of widespread Internet use among all age groups, communicating through online forums and social media means cyber harassment remains a rising problem around the globe.
Some individuals post things online they would never say to another human if the conversation was face-to-face. Feeling a shield of "anonymity," online posts can get ugly ... fast. This online bullying can be hurtful -- and in many cases -- unlawful.
There are things you can do to protect yourself online and actions you should take if you are a victim of cyber harassment. The Air Force does not tolerate cyber harassment and provides resources to help.
For high-profile Airmen or those in roles that deal a lot with the public, the risk of cyber harassment grows. It is important for all Airmen -- military, civilian and contractors -- to take stock of their mental health and ask for help when needed. Cyber harassment can get out of hand quickly, leading to job dissatisfaction, depression and pulling back from family and friends.
AFI 1-1, Air Force Culture, specifies that “our core values demand that Airmen treat others with genuine dignity, fairness, and respect at all times…This respect for others not only involves personal interaction but also extends to communications and interactions in social media and cyberspace.”
The document also states “Airmen do not tolerate bullying, hazing, or any instance where an Airman inflicts any form of physical or psychological abuse that degrades, insults, dehumanizes, or injures another Airman. It is the obligation of each Airman in the chain of command to prevent such conduct.”
If you are a victim of cyber harassment, report the incident(s) to your immediate supervisor. Your leadership will help you navigate the situation. If the harassment is causing mental strain or is interfering with your work, this list of resources may be helpful at https://www.aflcmc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2812055/resources-available-for-airmen-seeking-anxiety-depression-burnout/.
Report incidents to your chain of command. Keep reporting until you get help -- and do not suffer alone.