It's been a good eight months since I wrote this dispatch. In the time since much has happened which makes my previous forenote look hypocritical. I continue to hold the opinion that harassment is entirely unacceptable, and the courses of action and definitions of harassment set out in this dispatch are valid. However, I feel the need to mention that in many cases, including the one which led me to write this dispatch, mental health is a large factor in the issue. While it doesn't completely excuse harassment in any form, a person's mental health can have drastic effects on their ability of self-control.
I summarise this forenote with the following: Please, do not harass potential harassers themselves. They could have any multitude of personal issues you're not aware of - this was the case with me, and I reiterate that it does not excuse it, but it most certainly plays a part.
If you are suspicious that a peer of yours may be being harassed by another NationStates player, be this emotionally, sexually or otherwise, the first thing you should do is have a calm conversation with your peer about the matter. Do not confront the suspected harasser first. You should listen to your peer carefully about the matter - if it is clear that they are distressed by the actions of another on the site, you should take further action. If you do not think this person would be comfortable talking to you about this topic, try directing a closer peer to do the same. If possible, you should attempt to collect any sort of evidence available that this harassment is occurring, in order to make it easier for action to be taken.
If you have come to the conclusion that it is likely this person is being harassed, do the following: In the event that the off-site actions can be linked to a person's on-site account, or even occurred on-site, contact NationStates moderation immediately. In the meantime or if this is not an option, approach a regional official who can appropriately manage this matter, inform them of the situation and present any evidence you may have, if you see it as appropriate to/if the victim is comfortable with you doing so. In the event that someone in a position of responsibility is the harasser in this situation, it is essential you contact senior officials to them, or an outside source. If you do not think your regional officials are taking enough action over the situation, or even if they've brushed it aside completely, consider contacting an outside source or even direct the victim to an external resource; click here for a list.
Whether the situation you're in is ongoing or happened in the past, there is no question that you should speak out. If there is any on-site evidence or even on-site harassment, the very first thing you should do is make a report to NationStates moderation. If this is not an option for whatever reason, contact a responsible official within your region (or elsewhere), or a peer you feel comfortable talking to. You should gather as much evidence of the incident that you have, even tiny occurrences can mean a lot in this situation, so don't question what you should and should not include. You, or a peer, should ensure that any and all evidence reaches someone who can do something about it. If you have contacted a responsible official, and you do not feel as though they are taking sufficient action, the best thing you can do is try someone else - including those outside of your region if you feel that it is appropriate.
If the harassment has made an emotional impact upon you, please, reach out to external resources. You can always find someone who will listen to you, you are never, ever alone in your experiences. If real-life threats have been made to you by the harasser, or anyone else, you should consider contacting law enforcement - it is a serious matter which should not go unpunished.
If a member of your region has come to you with an allegation of harassment, it is never something you should immediately dismiss. Listen to the full report of events, collect and carefully review any evidence that may be presented. If the accuser(s) has/have not collected any evidence, it is essential you encourage them to do so - it should be kept in mind that not every single person who is accused of harassment is guilty. If you feel as though there is sufficient evidence or a substantial chance that the person in question poses a threat to your region's members, they should be banned from the region and all off-site hubs immediately. On the matter of evidence publication, if it is sensitive, it should be kept between responsible officials and those who need to know - out of respect for the privacy of the victim(s). In no circumstances should second chances be given to a harasser.
If the harassment can be linked to someone's NationStates account, or even occurred on-site, make a report to NationStates moderation if no-one else has done so. You may offer resources, or encourage others to support the victim(s) involved.
There is a real lot you can do to prevent harassment from happening within your region. For starters, you can pin this dispatch beneath your World Factbook Entry to offer advice to victims and others. Other things you can do include pinning or displaying harassment resources in your Discord server or forum, making it clear to your members that harassing other members will hold severe consequences (and ensure you properly define harassment) and immediately reprimanding anyone who you think may be making another member of your region uncomfortable in any way. The absolute worst thing you can do is ignore the issue. You must nip this thing in its bud.
Harassment can take many forms, none of which should be disregarded. The most basic definition of harassment is when a person subjects another to unwarranted conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other's dignity; or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that other. The following are some specific types of harassment:
Sexual - Harassment of a sexual nature is common, and is not acceptable in any form. Any sort of sexualised comments or imagery, especially when repeated over time may amount to sexual harassment. Examples of sexual harassment may include:
unwarranted suggestive comments;
publishing, circulating or displaying pornographic or sexually suggestive images without consent;
pressuring another into sending or receiving sexually explicit images or videos, or into other sexual acts;
any kind of sexual advances made by an adult upon a minor.
Discriminatory - Harassment on grounds of sex, race, religion or belief, disability, sexual orientation, and/or age may amount to unlawful discrimination in some jurisdictions. Examples of discrimination may include:
derogatory name calling;
display of offensive material and abusive language;
exclusion from events or activities others are involved in;
assumptions regarding the individual's ability to learn or perform.
Bullying - Bullying may be characterised by offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. It may or may not be based on a specific personal characteristic (e.g. disability, gender, race). Examples of bullying may include:
intimidation, such as threats or derisory remarks;
persistent unjustified criticism;
abuse of power or authority, aimed towards a particular person or group.
Victimisation - This occurs when a person is treated less favourably or is harassed further as a result of reporting harassment or assisting an investigation into such. This should be treated no less seriously than any other form of harassment. Examples of victimisation may include:
threats made in relation to the victim, or the distribution of evidence;
defending the harasser, or accusing the victim(s) of slander etc.;
exclusion from activities or groups without justification;
collecting information about or blackmailing the victim.
If you are a regional administrator, you could help massively by pinning this dispatch to your region's page, and encouraging your members to read and upvote. You can also start the prevention effort in your region now - make an announcement denouncing harassment, outlining what will happen to harassers and encouraging any victims to come forward. You could also try speaking to other members of authority in your region about putting together a specific procedure for handling harassment cases, or maybe review your regional laws surrounding the matter. On that front, it's totally up to you.
If you are a user on NationStates, you can start by upvoting this dispatch, that helps other people to see this and in turn spreads awareness. If you are a victim of harassment, it doesn't even have to be on NationStates, just anywhere on the internet, share your story today, speak out and help others who may be in your situation. If you find that your peer is being harassed, take every necessary effort to help them; this is a really serious matter. Harassment can result in all sorts of things, mental health issues, self-harm, suicidalness even - it does not matter that this is the internet, harassment can be just as damaging here as it is in real life.