Cyber bullying: Challenge of new millennium

Ridhima Gupta
Whenever we come across the word “bullying” the first thing that strikes our mind is that it is related to physical or verbal abuse from others. With the advent of technology, a new form of bullying-“Cyber Bullying”-is becoming popular and is increasing day by day. It is a new millennium problem especially among children.
Cyber Bulying is any bullying done through the use of technology. Cyber bullying is when a child or teenager is harassed, humiliated, embarrassed, threatened or tormented using digital technology. This is not limited to the Internet; cyber bulying also includes bullying done through text messages using cell phones.
The problem of cyber bulling is not restricted to western or developed nations only. It may be surprising to know that globally, India is third behind China (70 per cent) and Singapore (58 per cent), in cyber bullying or called online bullying.
According to a new Global Youth Online Behaviour Survey released by Microsoft, over half (53 per cent) of children in India have been bullied online.
Types of Cyber Bullying
According to the Internet Safety 101 curriculum, there are many types of cyber bullying:
*Gossip: Posting or sending cruel gossip to damage a person’s reputation and relationships with friends, family, and acquaintances.
*Exclusion: Deliberately excluding someone from an online group.
*Impersonation: Breaking into someone’s e-mail or other online account and sending messages that will cause embarrassment or damage to the person’s reputation and affect his or her relationship with others.
*Harassment: Repeatedly posting or sending offensive, rude, and insulting messages.
*Cyber stalking: Posting or sending unwanted or intimidating messages, which may include threats.
*Flaming: Online fights where scornful and offensive messages are posted on websites, forums, or blogs.
*Outing and Trickery: Tricking someone into revealing secrets or embarrassing information, which is then shared online.
*Cyber  threats: Remarks on the Internet threatening or implying violent behavior, displaying suicidal tendencies.
Cyber bullying facts:
According to the Harford County Examiner concerning cyber bullying statistics:
*Around half of teens have been the victims of cyber bullying.
*Only 1 in 10 tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim.
*Fewer than 1 in 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to law enforcement.
*1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had embarrassing or damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras.
*About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.
*Girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be involved in cyber bullying.
The Cyber bullying Research Centre also did a series of surveys that have found these cyber bulling facts:
*Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most popular form of technology and a common medium for cyber bullying.
*About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying and 10 to 20% experience it regularly.
*Mean, hurtful comments and spreading rumors are the most common type of cyber bullying.
*Boys are more likely to be threatened by cyber bullies than girls.
*Cyber bullying effect all races.
*Cyber bulling victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide.
Effects of Cyber bullying:
Cyber bullying can have both emotional and psychological effect on adolescents and teenagers. Some of them are as follows:-
*Higher risk for anxiety, depression, and other stress-related disorders.
*Unwilling to attend the school
*Receive poor grades
*Have lower self-esteem
*Have more health problems
*Increased feeling of sadness and loneliness
*Use alcohol or drugs
*Have increased thoughts about suicide
How to stop or prevent cyber bullying?
Both parents and children can play a vital role in stopping and preventing cyber bullying.
Parents and adults can:
*Explain to kids what cyber bullying is, why it is wrong and what will happen if the kids engage in cyber bullying and enforce the consequences if the rules are broken.
*Encourage kids to come to you if they ever see cyber bullying as a victim or a bystander and help stop cyber bullying by never passing it on.
*Help kids to be internet safety savvy. They should not share their personal information with strangers and shouldn’t share their passwords with anyone except their parents. They shouldn’t post their pictures or messages they would not want everyone in the world to see, perhaps even years later.
*Parents should have access to all of their kids account and may check occasionally to make sure their online activities are safe.
*Let kids know that no one deserves to be bullied and if they are ever the victims reassure them that it is not their fault that they were bullied.
*Encourage teens to have times when they turn off the technology such as family meals or after a certain time at night.
*Look to the web for resource and support information about cyber bullying.
*If the teens have been the victims or perpetuators of cyber bullying they need to talk to a counselor or therapist to overcome depression or other harmful effect of cyber bullying.
Teens can prevent cyber bullying by:
*Blocking communication with the cyber bully.
*Deleting messages without reading them.
*Talking to a friend about the bullying.
*Reporting the problem to an Internet service provider or website moderator.
*Refuse to pass along cyber bullying messages.
*Tell friends to stop cyber bullying.
*Report cyber bullying to a trusted adult.
*Never post or share your personal information online (this includes your full name, address, telephone number, school name, parents’ names, credit card number, or Social Security number) or your friends’ personal information.
*Never share your Internet passwords with anyone, except your parents.
*Never meet anyone face-to-face whom you only know online.
*Speaking with other students, as well as teachers and school administrators, to develop rules against cyber bullying.
*Raising awareness of the cyber bullying problem in your community by holding an assembly and distributing pamphlets to give it to younger kids or parents.
*Sharing anti-cyber bullying message with friends.
*Talk to your parents about what you do online.
Although the problem of cyber bullying is common in western countries but they are constantly making stringent laws to prevent and overcome this issue. But as far as India is concerned, it lacks the legal infrastructure to combat this core issue of cyber bullying.
India’s Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) is a set of laws to regulate the cyberspace. Prior to February 2013, there were no laws that directly regulate cyber stalking in India. But India needs to do much more on it. Indian Government should amend IT Act 2000 to specific provisions pertaining to cyber bullying. It should be made a serious offence. Unless you have deterrence in law it will be a continuing offence. Indian government along with its citizens should also have awareness programmes and anti-cyber bullying campaigns to discourage such kind of menace.
It is rightly said prevention is better than cure. So let us prevent and stop cyber bullying by doing our bit. It’s never too late to begin!