May 6, 2011, 1:09 PM
(Friday 3rd February 2012 issue)
A child is perhaps in my opinion, the greatest joy of a parent. To have conceived, brought forth, and nurtured a person for whom one has complete responsibility is no easy feat, but one worth taking on. The average parent would want the absolute best for their child and would not want them to be hurt in any way. What happens if that is not the case? What if someone else’s’ ‘bundle of joy’ is the reason for another Parent child’s uneasiness at the very least?
Over the past couple of years, horrifying incidents involving minors and resulting in fatalities have arisen globally and sadly enough, it has been due to bullying. Bullying is when a child is deliberately threatened, harassed, humiliated, tormented or otherwise adversely targeted by another child. In years past, we have been exposed to physical elements of bullying where force is used in most cases, not excluding taunts such as jeering. However, another force which seems to have to a large extent a very lethal consequences, is the use of electronic and digital mediums such as the computer via the internet and cell phones as a means of instigating and carrying out such averse actions, Cyber bullying. It is a vicious cycle of bully and victim.
Why is cyber-bullying so rampant? Why do kids feel the need to act in such manners? These questions have been asked time and again with the answers varied. Some vices include anger, revenge, ‘fun’ or ‘entertainment’, perhaps for an ego boost, feeling like they are in control. Some bullies have themselves been victims before, engaging in the same tactics which have been used against them.
Cell phones or Instant messaging are used to send texts bearing ill willed messages that is aimed at inflicting some form of hurt. Kids have been known to obtain and spread via cell phones revealing pictures of victims.
Cyber bulling by proxy is another angle, where the bully pretends to be a victim by creating an online personality similar to the victim’s or through hacking, activates his/her account and posts mean things about him/herself. This in effects gets him/her undeserved sympathy at the price of the victim’s privacy and identity. In some cases, the bully impersonated another person by either stealing their password and engaging in online activates, pretending to be them. They might send insulting, perverse or demeaning things to the victim’s friends or utter strangers which could blow up into something else, whilst the victim is innocent of committing such acts. People have found themselves locked out of their own accounts whilst it is being used to engage in some unwarranted online activities.
Another way cyber bullying is carried out is through the use of blogs, which is ordinarily used to share information with a large scale of friends. A blog might be used to spread vicious comments or tales aimed at ruining the reputation of a minor. There have been many incidents where victims have been abused in social networking sites, gaming sites or on websites. The above are not exclusive.
Again, the million dollar questions. Can cyber bullying be stopped, curtailed, minimized? Is it an illness that has no viable cure? Is too little being done? Is it just the result of increased technological advancement with little monitoring?
Most websites or social networking sites have tabs to ‘report abuse’, yet often times it is used for the wrong reasons, perhaps as a prank. But with soo many sites and the ease with which a person can obtain multiple online accounts, regulation is not as a parent would wish it to be.
Is it the parent’s job to monitor the child closely, especially cyber privileges, curtailing or removing them totally when misused and abused? Some might say that a child bent on carrying out such adverse pranks would find another means, perhaps a friend’s home computer with unlimited internet access or with an unrestricted cell phone.
What can the schools do to help? Should they have jurisdiction on cyber misconduct not carried out on their premises even if their own students are involved? How can guilt and innocence be distinguished especially in the case of cyber bullying by proxy?
We must tackle it as a society, united in the fight. We must teach our kids the values that would go a long way towards preventing such. This kind of online attack is very dangerous. Lives have been lost via murder and suicide because of this. As such, it must not be ignored. Parents should be alert to sense the effects and not too subtle changes in their child and be the supportive and listening ear that they need. Emotional trauma is in most cases more dangerous than physical ones with the effects potentially longer lasting, with wounds that fester long after and into adulthood.
Please, do not engage in any form of bullying. Fight it, stand against it. Don’t be a bully, be a star.