Help Children Overcome Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is the new form of the old problem, which is now armed by modern communication technology. Online bullying is plaguing tweens and teens.

The school pranks when exchanged with wide variety of audience through online communication do not remain children’s innocent pranks, but they take the form of vicious harassment which has severe psychosocial consequences on the victim and the family.

Cyber bullies are accomplished teenagers who are bully by nature. They are usually from an affluent family, endowed with the knowledge and free access to the latest communication gadgets: I-phones, internet and computer.

The threatening messages and abusive language are then not limited to the times when the bully and victim happen to cross each other’s path, but they reach the victim all the time and everywhere - including during his/her personal moments in the privacy of home.

The victim is continuously bombarded by unpleasant threatening messages, vicious forum posts, name calling in chat rooms and fake profiles posted on web sites.

Cyber bullying is a major cause of severe teenage depression.
It traumatizes the tweens and teens emotionally, socially and psychologically, with no healing time aloud to recover from the trauma inflicted.

Temperament of children who bully is often impulsive, hot headed and dominating. Their aggressive nature blocks out their ability to understand others emotional experiences.

Despite continuous aggression, the bully fails to appreciate the effects of cyber bullying on the victim. Thus, the bully does not achieve the desired gratification and online bullying continues till the most obvious hits the victim – psychosis, nervous breakdown, depression or attempted suicide.

How is cyber bullying done?

Bulling is abuse of power with the intention to harass any person or group and cyber implements when the harassment is inflicted through internet use.

This implies that both the harasser and the victim are partaking social media web sites including social networking sites, gaming sites, video sites and blogs. These sites are portal for entertainment and communication and are the great favorites of young children in the present times.

Social power is abused by sending direct threat, uploading of altered pictures or by posting belittling comments.

Some people may even crack victim’s password and send impersonated mails with intention of defaming the victim among his/her contacts.

Girl-bullies are usually involved in relational aggression form of cyber bullying, that is they target to harm by damaging, or threatening to damage their victim’s relationships among the peers.

Harassing by proxy is an extreme form of bullying in which the bully uses unknown online contacts (for example – from chat room) who are total strangers to the victim.

As a result, the victim is bombarded with hundreds of vicious messages from entirely unknown individuals scattered around the world. This leaves the victim bewildered and psychologically traumatized.

Anonymity of online identity

Cyber bullies do not give their victim a fair chance to fight back. Like cowards they hide behind the anonymity of online identity.

The web technology protects the harasser from being easily identified by the law enforcing authorities and thus often evade punishment.

Both boys and girls are involved in bullying and also get bullied. Nevertheless, boys are reported to be more involved in bullying both girls and boys.

It is often observed that those who get bullied have tried bullying others but have ended up being victims themselves.

This is because, the children who fall prey to cyber bulling usually are of quiet and sensitive temperament with low self-esteem, but wish to be accepted “in the crowd”.

How should a victim to cyber bullying combat it?

  • Do not be a cyber bully.

  • Do not open messages from unknown source; may it be e-mail or any of the social sites.
    i. Delete them without reading; they could contain viruses which can damage your gadget.
    ii. Never click on the links sent in such messages; the viruses in such links can collect your very personal information from your device.

  • Ignore the disturbing messages and posts.

  • Inform the parents.

  • Ask for help from school authorities, but be prepared to get a negative response from them. By asking the help you have registered your case in their books.

  • Do not get bogged down by cyber bullying.

  • Do not become a puppet in a bully's hands.

  • The cyber bully wants to instigate you to react, but please hold your cool and do not responding. Your response puts you in the same behavior bracket as that of the bully and is interpreted as the behavior is acceptable to you.
    i. Do not answer e-mails.
    ii. Do not respond to posts.
    iii. Do not engage in a chat room exchange.
    iv. Do not copy the bully in hope of retaliating.
  • Save all messages and posts; they are important evidences in your favor against the bully.

  • Alert internet service provider.
    The digital foot prints of an internet browser can always be tracked and the web activity records can be retrieved.

  • Seek help from the police.
    i. In face of online harassment that is severe enough to cause emotional and psychological unrest in the victim and/or the family.
    ii. If any threat to hurt physically is indicated by the bully.
    iii. Threats to life or persuading the victim to commit suicide are taken as criminal offence by the law.

Parents’ role in guarding children from cyber bullying:

  • Forewarned is forearmed!
    Teach media literacy to children. Only then will they be able to differentiate good and ill effects of web browsing. This will also give them the insight to select the programmes carefully.

  • Monitor the time child spends on the computer.

  • Supervise children’s activity on internet. Go in to the browser history if indicated.

  • Keep the computer in the sitting room.
    This subdues child’s inclination to browse an inappropriate site and participate in undesirable activities.

  • Google the child’s name off and on to keep a track of any inappropriate post under the name.

  • Seek help from concerned website or application's administration in face of any evidence of harassment or misuse.

  • The police should be informed at the earliest if parents notice that their child is being contacted or harassed by an adult.

  • Notify the school authorities if your child experience cyber bullying.

  • Close affectionate and reassuring interaction between parents and children is very important. It improves children’s self-esteem and gives them an opportunity to discuss with the parents any untoward happening before they get into deep waters.

  • Watch for subtle behavior changes that are usually noted in the victims of bullying.

Children do not report about the bullying.
They try to handle it all by themselves. They also think that telling the parents about bullying would be like “tell on” friends.

Any change in child’s behavior should be a cause for alarm.
Mark the common signs:

  • Reluctance in going to school
  • Shying away from participating in group activities with peers.
  • Looks disturbed, especially each time after using the computer or cell phone
  • Mood changes – like sad, withdrawn, preoccupied or irritable.
  • Evades interrogation to discuss out the cause of moodiness.
  • Dip in school grades.
  • Deterioration in concentrating power

Media education and awareness on cyber bullying are the only ways to prevent our children from getting traumatized by online harassment. Both the parents and the children should remain updated on the advancements in web technology.

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