Everyone is familiar with the concept of bullying: the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is often used as a mean to gain power over another person and may have dare consequences for the victim. Mona O’Moore, a member of the Anti-Bullying Centre at Trinity College in Dublin, has written:
“There is a growing body of research which indicates that individuals, whether child or adult, who are persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide”.
The rapid growth of technology has facilitated communication and interactions among people in general, but these media can also be used by bullys to terrorize and torment their victims, an act known as cyberbullying.
This post on the New York Times blog shows a survey in where 88 percent of the teens surveyed said they witnessed “people being mean or cruel” on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and one in five of them admitted to have already participated in such cruelty. Knowing the dangers of the cyberspace and worried about their children’s well-being, three out of four parents said they “checked which Web sites their child visited” and 8 in 10 said to be on their list of friends.
But computers isn’t the only mean used by bullys. Almost everyone has a mobile phone these days which the aggressors can use to send text and voice messages to their victims, call them directly or send pictures. An example of this was seeniIn a recent case in a school in New York, were a group of bully teenagers took a picture of its victim, a girl of the same class, taking a shower after class and send those to the other classmates. They used to constantly harass her via text messages also.
Another common form of cyberbully is using a video camera (or even a mobile phone camera) to record a victim being abused by bullys and them post the video online on social networks to make fun of the person abused, a practice which is known as ‘happy slapping’. In a video that has gone viral on the internet, one kid is assaulting another at school, but then the bullied decides to fight back its aggressor and literally throws him to the ground.
It’s sad to see technology being used for these purposes and it’s up to us to be ever vigilant and report these types of abuses. But technology can also be used to help fight against cyberbullying as there are sites like STOP cyberbullying and the cyberbullying rearch center dedicated to give information on the subject and help for victims. So it’s up to us to stand up and and take advantage of these informations to help and inform people around us.
Text by Carlos Henrique de Souza Rostirolla