The effects of cyberbullying can get more serious: unexplained anxiety, chronic depression (lack of interest in anything and the child keeps to his or her room all the time), panic and fear, etc. If parents notice any such symptoms, they must take the child immediately to a counsellor.
The easiest path that could be taken is to stay away from the bully and ignore the person. But since cyberbullying takes place via the medium of the Internet and the victims are children or young adults, it would be a difficult path to follow. Parents and schools need to step in to prevent cyberbullying. Schools and colleges should have an active anti-bullying policy. If such cases are found, schools should invoke counselling via therapists. You need to be aware that both the victim and the bully need counselling.
Coming to the prevention of cyberbullying, the best cyber crime lawyers in India recommend keeping an eye on what your child is doing. It says you have to:
- Restrict access to the Internet by blocking certain websites
- Allow time-based surfing and mobile usage
- Check into the activities of the children using any software
- Keep the password of the child account with you and using it once in a while to check what all the child does online
- Block people who may be harassing your kids
There are many programs to this end. There is Microsoft’s own Family Safety Program. You can use one of the many Free Parental Controls developed for recent versions of Windows. Also, there are DNS providers that provide good control of your child’s browsing. You may want to check out the features provided by Open DNS.
Law enforcement authorities will step in the following cases:
- Severe physical damage to the bullied
- Usage of sexually explicit messages, porn, or invasion of child’s privacy (toilets, etc.)
You might report other forms of cyberbullying as well, but there is not much they will do. They might warn the person bullying, if possible. Here the places to report cyberbullying in other cases:
- ISP and mobile service provider – Inform your ISP and mobile service provider about the cyberbully so that they can block or warn the bully
- Social media sites – if the bully is using social media like Facebook, you have to report it to Facebook Invigilators; normally, each post on Facebook comes with a drop-down menu that allows you to report directly
- Forums and other websites – You’ll have to contact the webmasters and forum admin to stop the bullies
- School authorities – As said earlier, there should be policies in schools/colleges for prevention of cyberbullying; schools can use those policies to warn or counsel the bully. You can hire a cyber crime advocate in India to file a complaint against cyberbullying.
Think Before Posting
It is important to note, what is posted online today, may come back and haunt the writer tomorrow or later in the future. That silly or funny photograph posted on a social networking site may preclude job acquisition for that person years later. Many colleges and employers are now searching social networking sites prior to hiring. Remember, online messages, posts, pictures, or videos, once entered into the Internet, will remain there forever, which can be viewed by a massive and unknown online audience. With cyberbullying, one cannot just turn off the computer and expect everything to return back to normal. Even if the victim disconnects himself from the Internet or other electronic devices, cyberbullying can weave itself back into the victim’s school, workplace, or home environment.
Pay Attention to Language Issues
Improper, inappropriate or profane language may cause a participant to be kicked out or permanently banned from a forum or group. It is also important to remember people from other countries may be participating in the conversation and language barriers may be an issue. Many times, individuals can make simple errors or mistypes that can distort their intended message or cast unintended animosity on their delivery. Be aware that mistakes can happen from time to time.
Educate Yourself About Cyber Bullying
It is important, and in some cases required, that each school educates its students and staff on a regular basis regarding the nature and consequences of, and prohibitions and penalties associated with, all forms of cyberbullying, and even bullying, so that constant and updated awareness of the problem is promoted. Education should occur through the attendance of training workshops and seminars, as well as formalized continuing education initiatives for all members of the school community. Educate yourself on cyberbullying prevention strategies.
Of Cyber Bullying, Sarahah and The Blue Whale Game
We have all heard that bullying leads to death mainly by suicide. We have seen the instances where even cyber-bullying has led to suicides. And now we have two new entrants Sarahah and the Blue Whale “game” in the world of cyber-bullying and no matter how cynical the people are about their potential to inflict physical and/or psychological harm to victims, they are still making buzz as something people should be scared of.
Cyber bullies, like offline-bullies, can really get to people. From making someone feel ashamed of who they are to actually incite someone to commit suicide, there’s no stopping once a bully is able to get to someone.
This is even more dangerous for people facing psychological struggles such as anxiety and depression. The most vulnerable ones are those belonging to social groups struggling for acceptance in a society. Such as someone belonging to a gender, sexual orientation, ethnic or religious minority.
While Sarahah is an “honesty” app built by a Saudi developer where people can give anonymously send “feedback” to an individual or an organisation, the Blue Whale “game” is played through a communication channel where a challenger anonymously reaches their target and incites them to complete a series of challenges involving self-harm and the final stage of which is to commit suicide.
It might be an exaggeration to compare Sarahah with the Blue Whale “game” but even the former becomes an enabler in cyber-bullying. Using this platform, the bully can in the name of “feedback” anonymously bully an individual. This is problematic because this platform can be used to get to people, make them feel worthless, thus becoming an enabler in cyber-bullying.
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