Cyber Bullying – the nightmare of “studenthood”

Carita Cheung

“I was never an eye-catching student in school but I can definitely tell you my life there has been hell.” David said.

Cyber bullying is surely a nightmare to David Knight, a Canadian. He lives with his family near Burlington, and he is on his final year of studies when he felt so trapped and decided to leave school. He could never forget how he was teased and punched in school for years. Yet the most intolerable thing was the suffering every time when he logged onto the internet.

“Someone had set up an abusive website about me that made life unbearable. It was several months later when a classmate sent me a link. There it says ‘Welcome to the website that makes fun of Dave Knight’. Whoever created the website had asked others to join, and post lewd, sexual comments and smear my reputation. There are my photos all over, with pages of hateful comments directed at me and my family.” David Knight was accused of being a pedophile or even using the date rape drug on little boys. There are even nasty e-mails, saying insulting words that: ‘You’re gay, don’t ever talk again, no one likes you, you’re immature and dirty, go wash your face’.

Compared with these cyber bullying, he now thinks of those physical bullying before is much easier to take. Instead of having just some people, say 30 persons in a cafeteria, hearing them all yell insults at you, it’s up there for 6 billion people – anyone with a computer can see it.

“And you can’t get away from it. It doesn’t go away when you come home from school. It made me feel even more trapped.” David dares not interact with other people, isolating himself from everyone, as they all seem have great hatred on him. This make him felt useless and valueless, as he was the only one to be left behind.

“I don’t know why they were picking on me. I honestly don’t know. I’m not different from any other kid,” said David.

Sometimes when he was fed up with all of these, he wants to end his life –  simply shut his eyes forever and escape from this unfair world.

His mother, Nancy, tried to solve this problem by contacting Yahoo, which in this instance was the website host, and waited a couple of weeks then checked the web page and found that it was still there.
“It is believed when companies don’t step in and say, ‘You’re not allowed to post this. We’re going to take it down,’ basically they’re promoting it, they’re allowing it to go on.”

Facts file on CYBER BULLYING:
WHAT?

The bully has found a new weapon: the Internet. It is when a people is tormented, threatened, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another one through the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It’s easy to use and can be equally effective in destroying lives as the traditional school playground method.

WHO?
Teenagers, students and youngsters are usually bullies and victims involving in the troubling trend. They are rebel, refusing to follow rules and tend to behave against the authority. Cyber bullying is usually results of impulsive and self-centered acts of the young generations.

STATISTIC
One in every 10 primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong is a victim of Internet bullying, according to a recent survey.

The survey, conducted by the social service division of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ (CUBC), polled 2,629 students, and found around 10 percent (mostly male) in Kowloon and New Territories had suffered Internet bullying, reports The China Daily.

About 45 percent of those polled said they would advise victims to seek help, while 43 percent said they’d rather turn a blind eye.

HOW?

  1. Direct attack which instant messages of verbal attacks are sent to victim.
  2. Stealing of passwords, and hacking into the accounts to chat with other people in the victim’s identity, and saying mean things that anger others.
  3. Interactive gaming is victim was verbally abused; using threats language or even locking them out of games.
  4. Private personal information secretly filmed video and embarrassing photos are uploaded anonymously and sending all around through E-mail and Cell Phones.

WHY?
Children with unhappy experience or family problem are more frequently involved in cyber bullying. They may want to seek attentions or due to lack of sense of security. Their sense of pride can be maintained through trampling their peers. Others are lack of ways to solve conflicts, therefore resorting to violence when they face difficulties and obstacles or with different standpoint and opinions. Some of them simply take revenge. For examples, female schoolmates who are adored by the boys they like are isolated and accused falsely. Others may join the bullying under great peer pressure as they have to become one of the member “bullying gangs” in order to be accepted, and avoid being set as the “the bullying target”

RESULT?
This issue is inescapable for victims as there is no place for them to hide when they are in front of the computer reading nasty comments about themselves. But often, victims are too ashamed to complain to adults or too humiliated to express their anguish. As a result, they would rather stay in silence than face the possibility of losing internet access. What’s more, once the bullies realize they are not receiving the attention they have been desperately seeking, they will most likely move on to their next prey. Somehow, the cyber bully one moment may become the victim the next. The kids often change roles, going from victim to bully and back again. There are even children killed each other and committed suicide after having been involved in a cyber bullying incident.

PREVENTING?
The root of the problem does not lie in technology – it is the people involved who need to take responsibility. Teachers and parents are often unaware of the problem of cyber-bullying, leaving victims isolated. In fact, schools can be effective brokers in working with the parents to stop and remedy cyber bullying situations. Teacher should educate the students on cyber ethics and the law while parents need to be supportive of your child. For teenagers ourselves, keep personal information private is the key for self-protection. If you were unlucky that there was an encounter in a cyber-bully, it is best to ignore them. If they continue their onslaught of cruel messages, try to save message or picture as evidence and contact parents or school counselors or police for help. Most websites will ban reported cyber-bullies from their site.

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