A national study found that 96 percent of Americans surveyed feel a personal responsibility to be safe and secure online, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Count Rebecca Rose among those who wish to be safe and secure online.
Rose, 45, recently to the Trenton Police Department that her neighbor in the 200 block of Detroit Street had been harassing her on Facebook.
Her neighbor, Jennifer Petkov, 33, made national headlines after she admitted to of Rose’s daughter and granddaughter and posting them on Facebook in 2010.
The photos depicted Rose’s late daughter, Laura Edwards, and Laura’s daughter—Rose’s granddaughter—Kathleen Edwards, 8, being embraced by the grim reaper and in a skull and crossbones.
Kathleen suffers from Huntington’s disease, which is the same disease that took her mother Laura’s life in June 2009.
To prevent actions like this from taking place, the Department of Homeland Security has begun “working with the public and private sector to promote cybersecurity and leading the effort to engage and educate Americans to help them understand the importance of online safety” in October 2010.
“Whether it’s protecting ourselves from identity theft and cybercrime or protecting the nation from a cyberattack, we all must share the responsibility of promoting a safer cyberspace,” according to the Department of Homeland Security website.
“It’s important that all Americans, adults and children alike, do their part to ensure that cyberspace is a safe and secure environment for all Internet users,” Scott McConnell, a DHS spokesman, said.
Rose said the most destructive part of cyberbullying is how difficult it is to prove the harassment is coming from a certain source. She said she believes this may be why some people commit suicide after constant cyberbullying.
“There are days that I just want to go to sleep and never wake up and not only do I have a dead daughter, I have never been able to grieve because Jennifer (Petkov) started in the minute she died,” Rose said.
McConnell said there are a number of ways people can protect themselves from cyberbullying and online threats.
- Accept friend requests only from people you know and trust.
- Limit access to your personal information.
- Notify the appropriate authorities if you are being harassed.
Rose has three personal protection orders against Petkov and according to an article in The Detroit News, Trenton Police Chief William Lilienthal said neighbors have complained that Petkov has been recently spotted in her house.
Petkov was ordered to move out of the house after she after she allegedly tried to run a different neighbor over with her car.
“She’s still coming and going as she pleases,” Rose said.
Lilienthal said the case was under investigation and declined to comment further.
A recent article about Rose’s situation became popular and hundreds of people began commenting on the story and offering advice. Some people suggested that Rose shut down her Facebook account; however, Rose said shutting down her account would be like letting the cyberbully win.
Rose said she has already significantly reduced the number of visits Kathleen makes to her house each month in order to better protect her from what is going on and because of her declining health.
“She used to come over three to four days a week,” Rose said.
She added that Kathleen’s father restricts her from many forms of media to protect her from learning about her own story online or on the news. Right now she knows very little of the story that made national news and Rose said she intends to keep it that way.
“She really is an angel,” Rose said. “She doesn’t do anything wrong. She has a smile that could stop a war.”