Cyberbullying is a relatively new type of crime—or is it? Actually, bullying has always been around. The Internet, computers and mobile electronic devices, however, have simply given bullying new platforms and tools for expression.
The anonymity the Internet provides, furthermore, has made bullying easier and less risky—at least in the eyes of many offenders.
Intimidating, harassing, stalking, invading victims’ privacy, putting people down, etc.—this is what Cyberbullies do best. While most people may know what Cyberbullying is, some people still succumb to certain difficult-to-dispel myths and misconceptions.
EXAMPLES OF STILL-LURKING MYTHS
--Cyberbullying doesn’t involve physical harm.
Actually, many people have committed suicide as a result of not seeing any way out of the incessant harassment, threats and abuses. Many other people have been the victim of attacks by people who had previously threatened them or they themselves resorted to violence as a means by which to deal with the stalking/harassment.
--Laws in the books don’t address Cyberbullying.
Both in the US and in the UK, a number of laws do address the activities/infractions perpetrated during Cyberbullying: harassment, invasion of privacy, defamation of character, threats, etc. While more laws are needed which more specifically address Cyberbullying, there are laws presently in place to deal with and prosecute crimes committed because of Cyberbullying.
--Cyberbullying involves only young people—more specifically, students.
While the majority of people touched by Cyberbullying are indeed young people, many adults are also the victims of Cyberbullying. There was the story, for example, of an instructor in the UK’s school system who was incessantly harassed by students. The students, among other things, posted nasty information about him on a website they created. Many other adults have experienced similar abuses.
--Cyberbullying involves only written communication.
Some Cyberbullies get rather creative with their torture routines. They may employ things like unnecessarily graphic, unethically obtained or personally demeaning photographs, drawings, videos, music, etc., to make their point. Repeatedly overwhelming someone’s phone and email address with a certain song or link (which says what they are thinking), for example, can be considered a form of Cyberbullying.
--Cyberbullying doesn’t involve serious crimes.
Making threats, posing off as another person, breaking into people’s private accounts—all these constitute serious crimes and can lead to criminal prosecution. We all need to stop thinking of Cyberbullying as a sort of a harmless or “white-collar” type of crime—it’s not!
Many people still underestimate how serious Cyberbullying is and how much damage it imparts to its many victims. Victims of Cyberbullying suffer serious emotional, psychological and, sometimes, physical harm.
When we all start taking Cyberbullying more seriously, maybe then more stringent measures can be taken to deal with it—if not leading to eradication, then at least severely punishing those who choose to practice it, be an accomplice to it, or (even if only tacitly) condone it.
You can help out by becoming better informed and more intimately involved. At the very least, don’t succumb to lingering myths and misconceptions.
Copyright, 2018. Fred Fletcher. All rights reserved.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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