Cyberbullying. The new menace

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Don’t be mistaken.

Sometime in your life you were cyberbullied, or would be cyberbullied because of the pervasive spread of technological devices.

Cyberbullying is defined as baleful, malicious and intimidating content designed to force a victim into some kind of a psychological subjugation that he or she inevitably feels powerless and helpless. In the same vein, it is meant to demean a person to such an extent that the victim exhibits symptoms of depression and withdrawal. And in extreme cases as had been documented in other nations, victims have even taken to suicide.

So it is a very serious legal and health matter and what is more Singapore is one of the most wired nations on earth thereby lending by inference that we could well encounter instances of cyberbullying to climb in the years ahead.

Cyberbullying is often committed by children though over the years, adults too have resorted to like in the times when I experienced it after when a senior company executive where I once worked in for 3 years, emailed me baleful and injurious messages even after I had left the company!

But the problem as it stands today, is made worse that a bully can hide behind a nom de guerre and that becomes encouragement for bullies to become ever more aggressive. Hence it is a menace that is invisible, to say the least, yet pernicious.

The intent behind Singapore’s introduction of a bill to combat cyberbullying is to mitigate the harmful effects of the bullying menace. The bill identifies bullying as stalking, bullying, sexual harassment and harassment of children and correctly points to the workplace as another cauldron of incitement.

According to the Media Literacy Council, survey data in Singapore says that about three in ten school children and youths have experience cyberbullying. Cyberbullying it adds, is similar to other forms of bullying in that the victim is physically and emotionally harassed and made to feel frightened.

But the major difference the Council stresses, is that a cyberbully is able to ‘follow’ the victim into his house and into his bedroom and at all times of the day. It is potentially more traumatic because the victim may feel that he has nowhere to hide and that the ‘whole world’ knows.

That defines how pervasive and pernicious the entire menace is.

Cyberbullying has to be stopped or it may stop us.