Cyber bullying rising among teens

He’s big, he’s bad, and he’s unnerving to face. We all have that terrifying bully at school and the characteristic brow-beater in the playground. But today, harassment doesn’t stop there. With the hoard of teens and tweens moving into cyber space, the world has another breed of bully- the cyber bully!

Internet to blame?
Cyber bullying is essentially the persistent harassment of an individual via technology like the internet, cellphone, etc. So, why do people resort to such actions? Low self-esteem is one of the key reasons for any form of bullying. Victims in their own way, these bullies tend to put others down in an attempt to feel better about themselves. Dr Hozefa Bhinderwala, consultant psychiatrist at Saifee Hospital and Prince Ali Khan Hospital, informs, A small attention span and the failure to control ones impulsive urge is a hazardous combination that can result in cyber bullying.

The internet provides not only a vivid interface for communication, but also the much needed anonymity essential for such a form of harassment. People, inept at social interactions, use the net to vent their aggression as they dont feel an immediate sense of threat.

Says Ishan Baggins (name changed), a 21-year-old student from Bhopal who indulged in cyber bullying, A friend of mine was not on facebook. So one day, when I was really bored, I made a fake profile in his name. Some of my other friends joined me and we started adding the people he knew as friends. We uploaded some of his embarrassing pictures, posted funny comments on girls photos and put up hilarious statuses. We found it to be a great way to pass time!

Two-way victimisation
Says 17-year-old Kiara Desai (name changed), a victim of cyber bullying, It isnt like school, where you can run home for refuge the minute the final bell rings. Internet has taken bullying to a whole new level. And when its online, there is no place to hide. And unlike clichd bulky and strong ones, your bully could be that nave-looking nerd or that silent sophomore.

Letting us in on her experience, Desai says, A classmate, who had a crush on me, decided to take his revenge for spurning him by creating a fake profile on facebook and maligning me online. He even wrote about issues I was facing in my personal life. Tiding the situation was tough. I shut myself out completely for the two months and became anti-social and phobic of large audiences. It took three counsellors and a lot of support from my loved ones to get me back on my feet.

But unlike popular notion, the victim is not the only one at loss here. Indulging in cyber bullying can have serious repercussions on the personality and psychological development of the bully as well. It adds to their sense of worthlessness and they dont realise that there are better ways of raising their morale and confidence. Moreover, they fail to learn the communication skills essential for real world interactions and tend to become anti-social. When they get away with the bullying, their sense of remorse diminishes, putting them at a greater risk of committing more serious crimes.

Introducing the internet
Cyber bullying is not inevitable. Advises Bhinderwala, Before young adults start using digital technology and social media, there should be a transition stage in which they use their parents accounts or devices for digital communication. Parents should closely monitor their interactions online and guide them accordingly. For the victims of cyber bullying Bhinderwala says, You must realise that Facebook isnt life. Its merely a slice of the whole pizza. Dont let cyber bullying bother you. Believe that you are worth much more than some words typed on a keyboard.

Legal aid
The IT Act, 2000 states punishment to all those publishing information which is obscene as also to any form of breach in privacy and confidentiality. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) also covers this issue. Apart from legal help, victims can also hire private investigators specialising in tracking down cyber bullies. For those who want to find the culprit on their own, you can simplyGoogle Reverse E-mail Finder to find a list of websites which can help you unmask the bully. These websites primarily track the email address down to its user and returns the users identity as also some other personal information.

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