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How online bullying and harassment takes a toll on adults in the public eye

A cartoon image of a woman running away from a giant smartphone spewing profanity and sexual harassment.
This hour, we'll talk to about how online harassment, cyberbullying and misogyny affects adults in public positions, and the affects such harassment has both online and in the real world.

Harassment and cyberbullying are a common part of our online lives, especially for adults in the public eye. But being targeted virtually can have serious consequences in the real world. This hour, we hear from a former state lawmaker featured in a new documentary, where she shares her story of leaving office after racist attacks online. And we'll hear from Vermont researchers about the toll online harassment takes even when we're offline.

Our guests are:

  • Kiah Morris, a former Vermont lawmaker who left office after being targeted by racist and sexist attacks online; she's featured in the new documentary, Backlash: Misogyny in a Digital Age
  • Barbara Colombo, professor and Co-Program Director of Psychology at Champlain College, who's studied the psycho-physiological and behavioral responses from cyberbullying
  • Kimberly Vannest, professor and chair of the Education Department at the University of Vermont
  • Scott Mitchell, school board chair of Bellows Free Academy, Fairfax

The Backlash documentary will screen at the Vermont State House in Montpelier on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. Details on registering for the screening can be found at the Vermont Network.

Broadcast live on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he was a producer for television news and NPR member station WGCU for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined Vermont Public in October 2017 as producer of Vermont Edition.