Cyber-bullying, as the name suggests is defined as the use of cell phones, internet or other communication devices to post images or text in order to hurt, embarrass, threaten or simply ridicule another person. It may include use of sexual remarks and humiliating victims in forums and posts through the use of derogatory language.
Cyberbullying is on the rise in the United States and is not only limited to children but also affects adults (in case of adults it is also referred to as cyber-stalking or cyber-harassment) as well.
Comparison To Physical Bullying
Bullying has indeed gone way beyond the schoolyard. Compared to physical bullying, cyber bullies operate by remaining anonymous by using fake email accounts, fictitious names in chat rooms, IMs, text messaging etc. as disguises. Also, using the above-mentioned indirect ways of communication emboldens cyber bullies to stoop to any level when it comes to harassing their victims.
Unlike the physical world, cyber space often lacks supervision and cyber bullies make good use of this factor. Bullying through cell phones is a menace since they are personal devices and have to be kept switched on for legitimate purposes.
Cyber-Bullying Trends And Affects
Cyberbullying today affects almost half (42%) of American teens. One in four kids have been bullied online at least once. One in five kids receive threatening emails and messages. Almost half of the under-15 cyber population of America have been threatened, embarrassed or mentally tormented online.
Cyber-bullying is not only limited to harassing children but adults as well, most of which happens at the workplace. A tenth of the people using the internet in America and England believe cyber-bullying to be a rising problem at their workplace. Cyber-stalkers are doing this by threatening a victim’s employment, income, reputation and security. Various motives whether romantic or personal dislike trigger such acts in people to resort to cyber-stalking.
Cyber-bullying adversely affects the emotional and mental well being of children and other victims. Victims show distinct signs of low self esteem, increased suicidal tendencies, fear, frustration anger and depression and may start to avoid friends and regular activities, often exactly what a cyber bully would want.
Already, cases of children committing suicide due to cyber bullying have been reported in United States. A lot of companies have lost revenues and faced defamation as a result of false postings. Victims have undergone serious damage to their finances and their reputation has been put at stake many a times.
Laws Against Cyber Bullying
Laws against cyber bullying has been introduced in a number of states in the United States and many have been proposed that would criminalize acts of cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking. One of the laws passed in August 2008 has given school administrations to discipline children indulging in cyber-bullying. Stringent laws are still a far cry!
If you are a victim of cyber-bullying or cyber-stalking, do bring it to the attention of concerned authorities. Ignore all mail or messages from such people and do not indulge in arguments or accusations whatsoever. Stay Safe!