Bullying means harassment of another person. Bullies are ubiquitous. Cyber bullying is when a person harrassess another (often young person) over the internet (or mobile phone). The anonymity of the internet helps bullies maintain their privacy while tormenting someone. Microsoft has presented some conclusions based on their survey of children in the age group 8 to 17 years from 25 countries. In this survey, 53% Bharatiya children have admitted that they were bullied online, while 50% children confessed that they had bullied someone or the other online.’

(Daily‘Maharashtra Times’, 2.7.2012)

Examples cyberbullying

Sending someone threatening emails, SMS or chat messages

Blocking someone’s email for no reason

Tricking someone into revealing personal or embarrassing information and sending it to others

Posing as someone to send out hateful or untrue information

Using social networking websites to poke fun at someone (a classmate or teacher)

Misuse of photographs of young women : Young women should never post their photographs on social networking websites such as the ‘Facebook’, ‘Orkut’ etc. These photographs are used for making obscene films or photographs.’ – Ms Swapnali Gore, Sub-divisional Police Officer, Kankavali, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra.

(Daily ‘Sanatan Prabhat’, 10.8.2011)

Effects of Cyberbullying

Victims of cyberbullying may experience many of the same effects as children who are bullied in person, such as low self-esteem, lower academic interest, a change in interests, or depression. However cyberbullying can seem more extreme because of several factors:

It occurs in the child’s home. Being bullied at home can take away the place children feel most safe.

It can be harsher. Often kids say things online that they wouldn’t say in person, mainly because they can’t see the other person’s reaction.

It can be far reaching. Kids can send emails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a website for the whole world to see.

The anonymity of the internet ensures that one cannot identify who the bullies are. Not knowing who is responsible for bullying messages can add to a victim’s insecurity (it reduces the trust they would place in their peers).

It may seem inescapable. It may seem easy to get away from a cyberbully by just going offline, but in todays social networking world it may be difficult for a child not to be online and socialize.

​Cyberbullying can be a complicated issue, especially for adults who are not as familiar with using the Internet, instant messenger, or chat rooms as kids. But like more typical forms of bullying, it can be prevented when kids know how to protect themselves and parents are available to help. So cyberbullying should be viewed very seriously.

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Talk about cyberbullying with your kids

Parents and elders have a role to play in preventing cyberbullying. You need to :

Educate your kids about cyberbullying. Tell them that cyberbullying is wrong and that they should immediately seek help if they are being cyberbullyied.

Talk to your kids! ask them, about school, their friends, what they do online, their problems and help and guide them. Look out for behavioral changes and let them know that you are always there to help them.

Ensure your kids do not turn into cyberbullies! Teach them to respect everyone and to report cyberbullying. Teach them to help kids who are bullied by showing kindness or getting help.

Monitor your kids’ internet usage so as to prevent them from falling into the trap of cyberbullying.