Top 5 Tools to Help Protect Against Cyber Bullying

I will be sharing with you a few useful tools and recommendations to help protect yourself and/or your children from cyber bullying both online and offline. Although social media and the internet has revolutionized the way our society communicates, it also presents many dangers that both children and adults must navigate in order to protect themselves from harm.

Those who wreak havoc on others primarily rely on either one of two factors in which to inflict damage on their intended target:  1) anonymity or 2) position or status that by virtue give them credibility over their victim. Their predatory actions depend on the silence of their victim, the inability of their victim to prove the harm being inflicted upon them, and/or the powerless feelings by the victim to stop future behavior.

One of the best examples of this psychology is in the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” where a state’s guardian/worker uses his authority to impose his will on the main character, Lisbeth. Click here to View Trailer.  This post in no way serves as legal advice, but hopefully it may help you to access your situation from a strategic point of view.

What victims and potential victims should realize is that your tormentor’s psychology is obsessed with maintaining their public persona in order to conceal their private activities. Your silence is their best weapon, but I must caution you that any attempts to expose their evil side without a strategic approach will catapult them into defensive mode. Your tormentor will intensify his or her efforts in order to further undermine your credibility.

By recognizing your tormentor’s psychology, you can turn your silence into your best strategic advantage. Without them being in defensive mode, your tormentor conducts business as usual which is being the devil to you, but a saint in front of everyone else.

Why not use this period of time to document their behavior? Other than in person harassment, the most commonly used means to harass or threaten is either via computer or via phone. Here are few tools and recommendations to help support your accounting of events, but keep in mind these tools are double edged sword. Don’t send anything that you don’t want archived or saved.

  1. Screenshot– Provides  users the ability to capture a time stamped photo of whatever appears on their computer screen as well as available on android and apple phones. For more information view “Screen Capture Tools: 40+ Free Tools and Techniques”
  2. Find IP Address in Emails– Some may think creating an another email account will maintain anonymity by protecting their identity.  However, this is not the case. Email accounts provide the IP address for the computer being used to access the email account. For more information view “How to Find the Location in the Header of Gmail”, this article also gives information on other email account types.
  3. Youmail  and Google Voice-Are harassing phone calls a problem? Do you feel the need to log your incoming, outgoing calls, and text messaging….then you need to add these two apps to your phone ASAP. Youmail is unique because it can track and catalog hangups, incoming calls, and voicemails to your phone. In addition, you can call block and ditch calls with a no longer in service message. Additionally, it will act as a caller id even when someone tries to block their number and when your phone is off. Google Voice gives you the ability to add a second line to your phone with a new number without having to give out your carrier cell phone number. Also, it provides a recording option for your phone calls. Caution In the same way you may use these tools to protect yourself, don’t engage in behavior that will allow these same tools to be used against you. Often times with bullying, their tactic is to strike, but catch you in the act of retaliating.
  4. Reporting Harassment and Threats- For Information on reporting to Twitter view “How to document harassment and cyberstalking on Twitter”, for Information on reporting to Facebook view “Track Your Facebook Abuse, Bullying and Spam Reports”, and for information on general reporting view “Cyber bullying, School Bullying, and Bullycide”
  5. Social Media Monitoring-Some parents maybe ambivalent on whether to monitor or not monitor their kids behavior. This resource provides several resources to parents of children being bullied and parent’s of the bullying child. Most importantly, it provides a comprehensive tool to monitor all of your child’s social media and cell phone usage in order to provide a comprehensive picture of your child’s activity both incoming and outgoing.

Transitioning Into Opportunity

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

Op-por-tu-ni-tya situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal,a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success.  This is the definition that comes straight out of the dictionary.  However, the meaning can have different references, understanding, and attachments depending on how we see it.  This is exactly what has been in my thoughts as I strive to empower, support, and instruct.  It has come up in recent discussion as I am currently working with several MSW students who are at the end of their program requirements, set to transition into opportunity.  What will this transition look like?  What opportunities will present themselves?  How can I cope with the uncertain and unknown?  Will I be ready?  These are just some of the questions that come up as one prepares to transition into opportunity.  A process that can provide challenge, learning, and much needed growth!


It is important to recognize that there are two different processes going on here.  One would be transition (the idea of change) and the other would be the opportunity that will present itself.  You have to be able to respect the change, and the various forces that come with it, while being open to the idea of the possibilities and learning that can present themselves, this is opportunity.  The difficult part here is that change and the uncertain/unknown are often factors that produce fear, anxiety, and other stressors that can (and do) impact us in a challenging manner.  Therefore, what I speak to, and what I believe is often lost when we are immersed into the idea of transition (change) are the opportunities that we don’t plan for or expect.  How many times have you heard “I never thought this would happen, but I am so grateful/happy/excited/ that it did.”  What this means is that the expectation that you felt was necessary, had to be in place, and hoped for was not the one that presented itself.  What this means is that what you wished for, what you thought you needed to have, and what may have been causing some undue pressure didn’t even make it off the ground.  You see, no matter what the opportunity is, the unknown or predicted, they are both opportunities.  I point this out to all of my students, and to any and all that can hear me, embrace the change, welcome the opportunity, whatever that may be, and use it in a manner that will empower you, support you, and move you forward to that place that will allow you to thrive!  
As I have come to learn, through many of life’ lessons, there are opportunities that may not always equate to success or achievement (in the traditional sense) but these are the opportunities that will provide you with many rewards. These are the opportunities that will enhance your development, empower you, and give you that wisdom that allows you to walk through life with your head up and heart open.  There is much to experience when you transition into opportunity, as long as you can see it.  I encourage you to be available and present when you are in this place and space, because when you are, you will more than likely be given opportunities that will change the quality of your life long term. The short term may seem like the most important at the time, my hope is it that you will be able to recognize and appreciate the difference, while you learn and grow in the process.
Until we meet again, be well to yourself as you move into the upcoming holiday.  May you be mindful of and thankful for all the wonderful gifts that life affords, the ones that don’t cost anything other than your time and availability…

Do You Know What to Do If You Think Someone is Suicidal #SWUnited Live Twitter Chat 11/19/12 at 8PM EST

by Deona Hooper, MSW

On November 19, 2012 at 8PM EST, we will have a  live twitter chat to discuss suicide prevention and the social work response. I have attached the link to the National Suicide Prevention website for information and tools for use in practice. Here is the link as follows:

@swhelpercom will be moderating the debate using the hashtag #SWUnited with guests @harperlevy and @drbillschmitz

Here is an excerpt from Psycentral entitled “What to do when you think someone is suicidal“:

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds. Still, suicide remains a taboo topic, is highly stigmatized and is surrounded by myth and mystery.

One of the biggest — and most destructive — myths is that if you discuss suicide, you’re planting the idea in someone’s head, said Scott Poland, Ed.D, the prevention division director at the American Association of Suicidology and associate professor at Nova Southeastern University. Clinical psychologist and suicide expert William Schmitz, Psy.D., likens it to talking to someone who’s recently been diagnosed with cancer. By mentioning cancer, you’re not forcing the topic front and center. “If someone is diagnosed with cancer, it’s on their mind.” Bringing it up shows support and concern. Similarly, by talking about suicide, you show the person that you truly care about them. In fact, lack of connection is a key reason why people have suicidal thoughts; isolation contributes to and escalates their pain. Do you know what to do if someone is suicidal?

Read More

Update  The Live Twitter Chat on Suicide Prevention and Identification brought to light some interesting perspective. Here are few of the tweets and the full archived discussion is attached.

View Archived Chat:

Change Will Not Come…

By Daniel Jacob, MSW

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~Barack Obama

I have returned, and with that I hope these words find you well. Today, I am touched like many with the energy that comes with another opportunity. What exactly is that? Another four years to see where we can possibly go. I do not use this forum as a political platform, not my thing, and so I am mindful and aware of this, my intention here is to enlighten, empower, support, and help you help yourself. It just happens that my inspiration this week is reflective to what we all were exposed to this past week, “change.” No matter how you see it, what the past few have looked like, or what the future ahead will be, we are presented with another opportunity. This is an important part of the process of “change” as often we can over think what we don’t have, not what we do, and all that goes into being upset and disappointed because of… So, I present to you what most claim to know, but can’t always understand. The idea that we must recognize the progress that has been made, the steps taken to decrease and eliminate some barriers and obstacles, and the opportunity to move forward. Now, for some these are just words, with no plausible outcome that equates to success or benefit. Well, what I will say about that is that if you measure success or benefit as a positive gain based on a few parts of the sum, but not the whole, you would see exactly what you want to!

We live and breathe in a country that provides us with more opportunity to better our selves than most around the globe. There is no mystery as to “why” many choose to come here, start over, and work towards a better day. We also live within a culture (at times) that spends more time than needed focusing on what can not change, versus what we can. With that being said I am hopeful because I know what “change” represents, I understand what it takes to be part of the process, the solution, not the… Does this mean that there will be no challenge, disruption, setbacks, and all that comes with “change?” No, it does not. What it means is there is an opportunity to move forward (i.e. progress), as long as you can see it that way. Am I optimistic and hopeful? Yes, I am but I am also very in tune with what is real, predictable, and all that goes into being honest and open to “change.” Stay with me, the idea here is not that everything that is perceived as negative and impacting us in a detrimental manner will somehow disappear. No, the idea is that it will become more manageable, we will find ways for things to work with us (solution focused), not against us, and we will create the systems of support to help when needed. Whether you agree with this one (think candidate) or that one, the same outcome is spoken about when it comes to our future, “change.” How that will translate to what the outcome(s) will look like is going to be different, this we know, and often this is what really speaks to their (candidate) audience and the ideologies, norms, values, and all one may subscribe to, how will this change affect and effect my (individual & family) story.

The example I have shared, based on the recent transition for another four more, is just that. However, there are several opportunities within these words that can provide you with an opening when you are presented with “change.” Embrace what you can control, and what you can not, ask yourself “how can I learn from this experience in a manner that will add to my bucket, not?” It’s your choice as always, but being hopeful and resilient can and often do provide one with positive opportunities. If this sounds familiar, you just may have heard these words somewhere over the last several months, perhaps… You be well out there, keep your head up and heart open as you take care of you own needs, while impacting those in need. When you give you receive!

[This is a contribution by Daniel Jacob, Founder of Can You Hear Me? Can You Hear Me? is my latest project which is an opportunity to empower and support helping professionals. Currently, I provide instruction and support as an External Field Instructor for MSW students in the distance learning program at the USC School of Social Work.]

What’s The Expectation Here?

As I am often exposed, I find myself immersed into learning opportunities as long as I can see them.  This week has provided an opportunity and what is the expectation here?  It was one of those weeks that I just couldn’t seem to find the level of motivation, inspiration, or energy that is needed in order to give to myself, and definitely needed in order to see my opportunities to give to others.  It happens and without overthinking what I was feeling, I was still able to take care of my needs while not resisting what I was experiencing.

I accepted where I was at while embracing that this is just another lesson amongst many more to come.  I recognized that I must continue to practice what I speak to.  I trusted the process while embracing the necessary steps; want, belief, and commitment.  I approached these moments I was experiencing in a manner that allowed me to see an opening, versus a closing.  By doing this I was able to ask myself, what’s the expectation here? Yeah, so?  Well, often we don’t ask ourselves the needed questions that we may avoid or resist because it protects us.  It puts it (whatever that may be) away in that place that we may feel has our back, but quite honestly only makes us more vulnerable…

So, as I thought about what I wanted to share today, I was influenced by an experience that came my way earlier today.  I took part in a collaborative meeting with a student (I am overseeing) and a colleague of mine/field faculty member.  My role in this meeting was not only as a facilitator of learning, but an extension of support, guidance, and availability.  The meeting was a great opportunity to once again model a positive example that we can give as helping professionals. The opportunity to provide feedback, direction, and validation to this student was not only necessary, but a powerful tool that can instruct, empower, and move one forward.

What happens as a result can provide awareness, growth, and areas of development that can truly impact future opportunities for this student.  My participation in this meeting is something I value, respect, and am truly invested in.  When one teaches, two learn, and as I struggled earlier in the week with something that I would not let get the best of me, I gained some further perspective…

You see, often we walk into our daily activities and responsibilities with an expectation.  “If we don’t accomplish this then…”  If we don’t hear back from X then…”  “If I don’t get that job then…” and many, many more actions that can come into our space.  This can be a challenging process that often finds us punishing ourselves with what really we can not control.  Often we can be very hard on ourselves, judgmental in a manner that creates only more suffering.  So, I ask you, what is the expectation here?  What is it that you are striving to achieve? What’s going to validate it for you?

I want you to think about all of this as it pertains to your experience(s), and use my example as an opportunity to find that opening that works for you. When you are able to stop, reflect, and see where you are at, it is much easier to recognize what you can control, and what you can not…My participation in this meeting and what I was able to give and receive (in the process) allowed me to put my week into perspective.  It allowed me to see that I am doing exactly what I should be doing.

It allowed me to recognize and appreciate that the expectation that I created for myself, the one that had me questioning what I could not control is exactly just that, my own.  Another opportunity to add to my work in progress, while continuing to trust the process.  It’s all good when you are, and everything else will work itself out as it should.  If it doesn’t there is no need to worry or collapse, there is still an opportunity, as long as you can see it!  Be well to yourself as you move into your weekend.  If I have opened a door for you, then I have accomplished what I set out to do, the next step is all yours…

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That?

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

It doesn’t take much effort to get to the information source these days.  It’s just a matter of logging on and booting up and you can find out anything about anything.  Does it mean it is the truth, fact, or the kind of information that you would welcome?  Not necessarily, but it does give some direction, perspective, and our own interpretation as we see it.  As I reflected on the idea of “Self-Care” and what exactly that means, there was a need to share.  There are plenty of experts out there as it pertains to self-care and well-being.  However, the one who truly needs to be the master of this practice is yourself!  You can read, study, and learn everything you need to about self-care, but if you are not able, willing, or ready to practice it, than guess what?  YOU WON’T!  So I ask you, what exactly is Self-Care?

I hope that I now have you thinking, in a manner that has you open and available to receive.  You see, I really have something to share on this particular subject matter.  Like many out there I thought that I had this self-care thing under control.  I mean, I was healthier than most, maintained an active lifestyle, had great support systems, and guess what?  I was far from healthy, and in fact what I should have been focusing on and attending to, I was not.  Therefore, it was only a matter of time when the vehicle known as “Me” was going to break down.  Often in life our greatest learning comes directly as a result of being confronted with challenge.  When challenge hits us we are presented with some choices.  We can either embrace it and take steps toward changing for the better, or we can resist, avoid, and keep on doing what will only lead to more challenges.  I’m the first choice kind of guy, and because I am, I have been afforded so many wonderful learning, growth, and self-awareness opportunities.  Because I have chosen to fight on when I am hit with suffering, I have allowed myself to move forward…

So, let me now move you forward and toward the meaning behind this post and subject matter.  Self-Care is a practice that is a part of your daily life activities.  What that means is that you do it not only because you know it will keep you well, but because if you don’t you will move farther away from the exact thing you are trying to reach.  You practice self-care because you can see the benefits of this in your actions, personal relationships, professional opportunities, physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and so much more that you can achieve and receive.  Self-Care is what you make it, and when you get to that place and space where it is a daily practice, then it is by far the most important job you have!  To be well you have to work at it every day for the rest of your days. If this sounds like too much effort or work for you and you’re just not feeling it, guess what?  You are right about one thing, it is the hardest work out there, and it takes a tremendous amount of effort, patience, and resilience to accomplish.  The experts can share the facts, data, and this or that model as it pertains to your wellness.  However, there is only one person who can change their quality of life for the better, and that person has to make a choice.  

Self-Care, What Exactly Is That? It is what you make it to be.  Life is not a dress rehearsal, you either give yourself the opportunity to change for the better, or not.  Until we meet again you be well to yourself, because when you are, that person you see in the mirror will be the same person you are looking at.  Can You Hear Me ?

If Only Monsters Actually Looked Like Monsters….

After having a twitter conversation with a social carer in the UK, I was made aware of some breaking news that is taking the United Kingdom by storm. According to BBC News,  Sir Jimmy Savile (Knighted), whose fame rivals that of Sir Elton John here in the States, has been raping and abusing under-aged girls over the course of four decades. The police have at least eight recorded instances of allegations against him. Yet, Sir Jimmy Savile was granted the privilege of dying from natural causes at the age of 85 years old without ever answering for his monstrosities, and it appears his crimes were protected until one year posthumously. He was known as a celebrity, philanthropist, and charitable giver. Does this story sound familiar?

Does this story sound reminiscent of our own recently dishonored philanthropist, the Great Jerry Sandusky of Penn State University. For those who may not be familiar with this particular monster, Mr. Sandusky, under the guise of a honorable football coach of a highly esteemed educational institution, used a charitable organization to identify vulnerable children to rape over the course of decades.

As children, we are taught to fear the boogie man, the big fury monster with big teeth, and the red devil with horns and claws. We do ourselves and our children a disservice by failing to arm them with the knowledge to keep us all safer. More precisely….. Evil is beautiful, charismatic, and alluring while appearing to be kind, genuine, and caring.

Predators are attracted to and they embed themselves within charitable and public institutions tasked with serving the most vulnerable in order to have unchallenged access to their prey. This is further evidenced by the recent revelations on the tracking of pedophiles posing as Scout Masters within The Boy Scouts of America. Currently, there are no mechanisms in place to identify or screen these predators from employment such personality test or psych evaluation. If you have ever felt like you work in an evil environment or felt confused by a relationship, your instincts are your best ally in alerting yourself to possible dangers.

We ignore our instincts because our eyes deceives us, and we often are confused by predatory actions. When you feel confused about someone’s intentions or confused about their character, this is your proof to run. Listen! Listen! Listen! Don’t doubt or dismiss the feeling you have that something is not right. We are all built with spider senses to alert us of the pitfalls we should navigate away from. Quit trying to analyze the intentions and pay more attention to their actions.

Here are a few resources that I would like to leave you with:

  1. Psychopath: Mask of Sanity
  2. Peer Abuse and Adult Survivors of Abuse

For sources on  Jerry Sandusky and Jimmy Savile view these links.

I Believe…

by Angel Ofire

I believe in treating others in the way you wish to be treated, therefore showing respect is something that should yet sadly often doesn’t come naturally to people.

Does it really take that much to ask another if they are ok?

Is it the fear their reply may be no I am not ok and you may have to help the person in some way that stops us from asking this simple question or is it the fact we simply have become complacent and act as though if things don’t affect us directly or have any form of impact on our lives then things don’t matter therefore why bother asking somebody if they are ok?

I am a firm believer of treating others as you would expect to be treated yourself, I also believe in showing people respect, it is part of me, part of who I am, a part I don’t consider to be a bad thing.

In fact treating others with dignity and respect is something I assumed that everybody out there did.

This was when I would learn the first rule of life, never to assume.

Assumption itself can be and often is the mother of our down falls, yet it can also be the beginning of a nightmare as assumptions lead to misconceptions which lead to judgments of others than are not accurate, that can be and are often plain wrong.

I fail to see why we don’t ask the simple question of are you ok to another, and further fail to see how any person can see a person in trouble who needs help of any kind and keep walking ignoring this sight, pretending they had not seen it, or simply avoiding it in order to not have to put out their hand and help a person up who may have fallen into the gutter of life.

Not everybody who you see out there has a stereo typical painted persona of the character we have had painted and placed in our minds.

I believe that everybody deserves a chance in life sometimes a 2nd or 3rd chance, and I believe that people are able to change, to a degree, however I do believe we are who we are deep down, and sometimes people don’t or won’t change regardless.

Yet I still could not walk past a person needing my help, and ignore it, I still find myself concerned when seeing an elderly lady in her yard with two tiny dogs, as I ask is there someone else living with her to care for her.

Knowing that this women would not have the physical strength to open a can of soup to feed herself much less be able to clean, and stay on top of her health.

How often do you ask yourself something like that when you see an elderly person struggling? I bet you don’t even give it a second thought as you race past on your busy day thinking to yourself not my problem.

Trust The Process….

by Daniel Jacob, MSW

I was able to disconnect recently from the energy of the city, and all that it can produce.  Being able to go into nature, a place and space that almost instantly allows one to breathe was received well.  As I thought about what I wanted to share this week, I closed my eyes and reflected.  What entered my mind and thoughts was not what I could see, but rather than the concept trust the process. What I have been able to see so well over this past year, something that has taken a great amount of work and effort to achieve!

This past year I have been able to see an opening that at times I wondered if it would ever appear.  You see, I began this journey back in February of 2009 with one primary goal, to be well.  It sounds so matter of fact when I see the word “well’ but as I have experienced, there is nothing so matter of fact about the inside of this ride that I know quite so…  A ride that has produced challenge, discomfort, frustration, opportunity, growth, understanding, and the ability to trust the process.  This last year has been an opening in many ways.  When you break open your mind and body go through a tremendous change, and when you patiently get back up, it really is a process of starting over.  You are recreating a new part of you (if you have chosen to) and what that means; the “work” has just begun!  There have been many stages and steps in the process when I questioned myself, my ability, and where this was taking me.  Until, it just happened.  I can’t tell you a day, a time, or a particular moment when I felt the change for the better.  What I can tell you is that if I stopped working, taking care of myself (physical and mental health needs) in a manner that was not disciplined, determined, and a part of my daily being I would not have gotten to the place that I find myself at today.

If I didn’t make some lifestyle changes that although began as a social outlet, then turning in to a coping mechanism, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t trust the professionals and let go of my pride, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t have an amazing and supportive spouse, I would not be where I am today.  If I didn’t do the work every day with the intention of strengthening my mind/body and ability to see what I could control, I would not be where I am today.  Yes, this has been a wonderful path that I have found myself on. I honestly have no idea where the future will take me and that in itself is exciting and empowering.  I know what I can control, and what I can not I have learned to accept.  What this has produced for me is an ever-present opportunity to move forward.  Today is a good day, one that I have created, one that I am living and learning from.  So, as I end this piece for today, let me leave all those that can hear me with this; believe in yourself and your ability to fight on, because when you do you will realize that you are a resilient being and “The impossible can always be broken down into possibilities” you just have to be willing to trust the process…

Until we meet again, you be well to yourself, give to another and you will receive!

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