CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON HOW CYBERBULLYING CONTINUES TO LOOM LARGE AS A VILLAIN OF THE PIECE.

By- Aswani C Rajeev.



“You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.” The height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others. In the present scenario, words of the Great Leonardo da Vinci has gained relevance. With the advent of social media, use of internet has reached unprecedented levels. From kids to the aged, everyone remains slave to the internet. Internet provides a bag of opportunities as well as threats. It help us to enhance social support, communication and critical thinking skills. But sometimes it can go to the extent of taking other’s life. Among all other crimes that we witness today ‘cyber bullying’ has become extremely dangerous and common. The words bullying and cyber bullying has a distinct meaning. Cyber bullying allows the wrong doer to cover his identity without appearing in limelight. This feature of anonymity is the main reason behind the rapid increase of cybercrimes. The culprit doesn’t need to face the victim while committing the offence and this boost his confidence that he will never be caught.


The term cyber bullying was first coined by a Canadian educator Bill Belsey. Cyber bullying can be marked as an effect created by an appreciable social change. Many scholars has defined this evil in different ways.

Some of them are:-


“Intentional aggressive behavior involving an imbalance of power perpetrated repeatedly over time.”-Olweus.


“Cyber bullying means using internet or mobile technology to intentionally harass or bully someone by sending them rude/hurtful messages, comments and images/videos”

-Ministry of Home Affairs.


“Cyber bullying is abuse/harassment by teasing or insulting, victim’s body shape,intellect, family background, dress sense, mother tongue, place of origin, attitude, race, class, caste, name calling using modern telecommunication networks such as mobile phones(SMS/MMS) and internet (Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups).”

– K. Jaishankar


Reasons for cyberbullying

When we checkout the reasons for this kind of harassment, many circumstances have led the bullies to go for cyber bullying like anger, frustrations, boredom, need of fun, revenge and evil mind to backbite someone. There are people who still don’t know about the consequences and nature of their dreadful comments posted on social media. The hunger of revenge and social power has been imprinted on the mind of bullies so that they try to degrade others. One of the easy way to gain social attention is by way of judging and criticizing someone based on their ideology. Sometimes bullying others doesn’t seem like a problem when it is celebrated among the peer group. Large number of people who engaged in online bullying don’t have any kind of empathy towards the victim as they don’t see or feel what they go through. There is a strong connection between previous victims and present cyber bullies because it perpetuates the cycle of revenge.


Types of Cyberbullying

Posting nasty comments online, spreading rumors and posting sexual remarks using aggressive and pejorative words, threatening and sharing photo without consent, profile hacking etc. are considered as common types in cyberbullying. Using in-appropriate or vulgar language is known as ‘flaming’ and sharing a victim’s secret or personal information is known as ‘outing’. Forms of online harassment includes sending screenshot of someone’s status or photo and laughing at them in a group chat which will degrade the person. Sending nasty messages either privately or publically and creating fake profiles to annoy or upset other persons is also a part of cyberbullying. Triggering religious and racial remarks about someone and criticizing them on the basis of their appearance, color, family background, religion, race, sexuality etc. constitute cyberbullying.


Sometimes the academic achievement, intelligence and physical features like height, weight can become a subject matter for harassment.It is easier to bully someone who can’t fight back. Bullies often harass someone who is mentally incapable or disabled. Online polling, stealing passwords and misusing it in revealing information, sending vulgar/junk mails are also its kind.

Different methods like texting, gaming up on a victim, defaming, hate speech, making an online forum against the victim, impersonation, making fake accounts etc. can be chosen by the bully for committing the crime.


Important cases of cyber bullying

One of the earliest cases of cyber bullying happened in Delhi, 2004. A 17 year old boy circulated video clippings of his amorous activities with his girl classmate through multimedia service on cellphones to his friends. The clipping later reached other children of different schools. Even though both the students were expelled from the school, the boy joined some other school while the girl left the country.


Case of Megan Meier: A 13 year old girl who had attended the Immaculate Conception Middle School in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri. She took her own life shortly before her 14th birthday as a result of what was deemed bullying taking place over the internet. She is considered to be amongst the first cases of suicide resulting from cyber bullying in the United States of America. Lori Drew who was the parent of the fellow student was charged with masterminding the bullying of Megan Meier.


Bullying teachers: Other famous case of cyber bullying is the case of Bombay Scottish School. Angered over a few things, one of the students started a discussion, “All those who hate DPN” (initials of the principal DPN Prasad). Many students seem to have a grouse against the authorities and the post flourished with quite uncharitable comments. The school authorities noticed and the students were made to apologize and delete their offensive posts.


Creation of fake profiles: In the case of fake profile of a Delhi school girl, the mischief mongers have posted obscene photographs and contact details of a school girl of South Delhi. They had displayed her home address and telephone numbers on the profile, using suggestive names like ‘sex teacher ‘for her. Two strangers visited the girl’s house and asked whether she is available for ‘sex’ and also the girl started receiving telephonic calls of sexy nature. The cyber cell of Delhi Police registered a case under the IT Act.


When the same crime is done by adults it is known as cyber stalking. These instances convey the depth of this crime and the hardships faced by the victim. The interesting fact is that India is on the third position in terms of cyber bullying cases across the globe. 7 in 10 young people experience cyber bullying before they attain the age of 18. 61% of the teens who report cyber bullying said that it was because of their appearance. Cyber bullying statistics shows that Instagram is the most common platform for cyber bullying followed by Facebook and Snapchat. Respondents with children who play online games reported a higher rate of cyber bullying attacks. The comment section of the blogs on internet is for discussing the questions for the author but this area is often a target place for cyber bullies to post hatred and hurtful comments. Last year we witnessed the impact of dangerous games such as ‘The Blue whale Challenge’ and ‘The Momo Challenge’ which led to multiple suicides.


Today, awareness on cyber bullying is quite low even if children are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has found that those who have experienced cyberbullying are at a higher risk of suffering from mental health disorders. Even the academic performance can be affected by the emotional and psychological consequences.


Legal protection

Under IPC: Indian pineal code provides remedies against defamatory act or act outraging the modesty of a woman. Under section 354C a cyber-bully can be punished for taking pictures and can held liable under this section along with other sections if he transmits or publishes the same. Section 354A provides punishment for sexual harassment and section 354D provides punishment against stalking. If a man contacts a woman or attempts to even after her expressed disinterest, or monitors her activities on the internet shall be liable for punishment of imprisonment up to 3 years and fine under first conviction.

Section 499: Sending defamatory messages through email got extended to ‘speech’ and ‘documents’ in electronic form with the enactment of the IT Act 2000, which is punishable under section 500 of IPC with a simple imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both.

Section 469: Whoever commits forgery intending that that document or electronic record forged shall harm the reputation of any party shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 503: The offence of criminal intimidation by use of e-mails and other electronic means of communication for threatening or intimidating any person or his property or reputation.

Under IT Act 2000:


Under section 66A, any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, or to deceive or to mislead the address or recipient about the origin of such messages shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years and with fine.

The other areas which attract the provisions of IT act are identity theft (66C), Cheating by personation by using computer resource (66D), violation of privacy under 66 E, Punishing for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in any sexually explicit act etc. in electronic form (67B) and breach of confidentiality of privacy under section 72.

An act of cyber bullying can be reported at the cyber cell of any city regardless of the place where the act was committed. The Cyber Crime Investigation Cell is a branch of Criminal Investigation Department (CID). They not only deal with computer related crimes but also with high-tech crimes.


Preventive measures

For the prevention of cyber bullying certain measures are to be adopted by students, parents, teachers and the school authorities. The first and foremost thing in this area is an open talk with the victim. It can be done by anyone who is closely attached to them. Parents as well as teachers should create a strong bond with the students to initiate open talks about any tough situation that they are going through. Awareness on cyber bullying can be provided to the kids and teenagers through advertisements, guidance classes and interactive sessions organized by the school authorities.

There should be a counselor in each school who can look into the matter of cyber bullying and help the victim to overcome. Schools should monitor the internet activities of the students and should take immediate steps to bring out the bullies in the lime light. Anti-ragging cells and posters can also help to overcome this issue. Teachers should teach cyber ethics to the students and laws prevailing in our country against cyber bullying.

Parents should explain the ongoing issues involved in internet and help the children to save the evidences and guide them to the ways in which they can use internet in a positive manner. Maintaining healthy relations with the child can encourage them to report whether they are being bullied. If the parents can identify that the kid is subjected to any kind of such harassment they should make complaint without any failure. They should also report the same to the school authorities so that many more children who are vulnerable to bullying can also be found out. Seeking protection from the court by filing a case should also be taught. The ultimate goal must be to enhance the self-confidence and self-respect of the victim. For this, involving them in other interested areas and hobbies like reading, dancing, singing etc. can deviate them from the feeling of isolation. Recovering from the trauma can be time taking and hard. Sudden deactivation from the online accounts and showing indifferent behavior to social gatherings can be considered as the warnings that the child is being bullied. Sometimes introducing the victim in to a good peer group can bring positive changes.

From the perspective of a teenager, there are measures that can be taken before getting trapped. Safeguarding the password and other private information from the peer group, restricting who can see our online profiles and educating ourselves about different online attacks can help us to an extent. Every once in a while searching our name in all major search engines and see if any personal information come up is one of the good ideas to know whether we are subjected to cyber bullying.

Conclusion

If our true intent is to persuade someone to change their mind, attacking their characters will not win them over. Constructive criticism is used to improve the skills of someone. This is different from cyber bullying. Negative criticism on the other hand to degrade someone’s reputation is a kind of cyber bullying. In the extreme cases, cyber bullying can even lead people to take their lives. This issue is to be handled very carefully by the teenagers, parents as well as school authorities. They should able to plant positive lessons in the minds of children rather than fueling the revenge. Apps like Facebook and Instagram has taken their first step by setting up a team who reviews these reports 24/7 around the world and removing anything that is abusive or bullying in nature. In the coming years no one can avoid the presence of technology. Even now every works and school activities are shifted from offline to online. So, everyone who use internet should be cautious of the online predators.

Reference:

1) ifflab.org/how-to-prevent-cyberbullying

Incognito forensic foundation lab

2) moneycontrol.com/news/technology/cyberbullying

3) https://firstsiteguide.com/cyberbullying-stats/

4) http://www.acadpubl.eu/hub/Volume 119 No. 17 2018, 1811-1822

5) https://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/61041/7/07_chapter%202.pdf





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