How to Check if your Child is being Cyber Bullied?

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The use of Internet among people is increasing day by day specially, the younger generation. They are using it for just about everything (studying, shopping, banking, social interaction, finding jobs, earning money) but few use it for committing cyber crime too. Cyber bullying is one of those crimes.

What is Cyber Bullying?

The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. Cyber bullying can be committed through digital messages, email, images, instant messaging, web site publications, chat rooms or SMS, MMS send to a PDA or phone. Cyber bullying includes Harassment, Denigration, Flaming, Impersonation, Trickery, Stalking, or other forms of victimization.

Similar to customary bullying, Cyber bullying involves aggression, use of power, and repeated false action. Cyber bullying is different from customary bullying as in:

  • Anonymity: In school, as much cruel the bully is, he or she can be identified and avoided. But a cyber-bully most of the times is anonymous and is difficult to figure out which causes a great deal of stress to the victim.
  • Accessibility: Traditional bullying can happen only when the victim is accessible to the bully. Whereas cyber bullying can wreak havoc any time of the day or night.
  • Fears: Fear of punishment from their tormentors and fear that their privilege to access phone or computer will be taken away. These are two reasons why the victim does not report the case.
  • Bystanders: Bystanders, generally referred as witnesses, are other nearby people enjoying the act of bullying. In traditional bullying, they are limited in number whereas this number can cross millions in case of cyber bullying. Here they may receive and forward emails, view web pages, forward images sent to cellular phones, etc.
  • Disinhibition: The anonymity gives tormentor to indulge in misbehavior that they might not do face-to-face.
Warning signs of Cyber Bullying

Bullying in either mode (online or offline) causes similar grievous emotional effects. However a torn clothing or bruise are not expected in cyber bullying. But in most of the cases if a child is being cyber bullied then he or she experiences traditional bullying at school also.

Watch out following behavior of a child:

  • Appears sad, moody, or anxious, clingy, aggressive or depressed
  • Being nervous, losing confidence or becoming distressed or withdrawn
  • Avoids school or group gatherings
  • Shows disinterest or withdraws from social interaction.
  • Being emotionally upset after viewing message or using phone or computer
  • Experiences a drop in academic performance
  • Eating disorders or change in eating habits
  • Problem in sleeping
  • Deleting online accounts
  • Asking how to block others
  • Nightmares
  • Indulge in drugs, alcohol or other self-harming acts
  • Thoughts about suicide.
How to cope up?

Unfortunately, Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008, which used to deal with punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, has been struck off by the Supreme Court last year in the case of Shreya Singhal v Union of India. It was the one crucial law that touched Cyber bullying. However, Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2013 talks about Cyber Stalking which is a type  of Cyber bullying. However it is available to only female victims.

How parents can help?

Firstly, offer some comfort and support to your child. Remind your child that (s)he isn’t alone; lot of people get bullied at some point. Tell the child that it is not his/her culpability. Ask your child not to respond any further to cyberbullying as it will make the situation worse. Reassure him that you will figure out what to do about it.

Now report the problem, tell someone at school about the incident. Many schools have protocols for dealing with bullies. Otherwise, lodge a FIR regarding the same.

Do not delete the threatening messages, conversations, pictures, or texts, as these are used as evidence against bully. If possible take the screenshot of the display, it captures the date and time of communication.

Other measures

The usage of internet has become quite common in today’s era and therefore it is almost impossible to detach ourself from this morally bad crime. In order to get over this crime, the above mentioned solution can be availed of, which can be of great help. The easiest way to stay safe from cyber bully is to be aware about the rapidly changing technology.

Read My Cyber Crime Stories for more cases of cyber bullying.

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References:

(1) Oxford Dictionary

(2) https://www.hazelden.org/web/public/rmmay10_bullying.page

(3) http://kidshealth.org/enm/parents/cyberbullying.html

Note: This post is on behalf of Ravi Kant.

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