Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cyber Bullying: A Virtual Menace

By Tejaswi Agarwal

Key Primers
Bullying has been defined as a behaviour that is intentional, harmful, repetitive, and reflects anabuse of power. In today's hyper-connected world via social media, bullying has taken a gigantic form whereby the perpetrators utilise the technological means to harass, denigrate and stalk people. In order to put it in words of Ben, Cyber Bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phone and pager text messages, instant messaging, defamatory personal Web sites, and defamatory online personal polling Web sites, to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group that is intended to harm others.

Contemporary Situation
In today's socially connected world, accessing information has become the easiest tasks. The evil elements of the society never leave a chance to defame anyone. In the current scenario, cyber bullying has taken various forms. The defaulters send angry confrontational messages, often using explicit and vulgar language, referred to as flaming this often results in hypothetical situations leading to havoc in the society. Approximately 32% of all teens who use the Internet regularly have reported being victims of cyber bullying, according to a 2007 poll by project. The exodus of the North-Eastern residents of India was one such act of Cyber Bullying which tore apart the well fabricated sheet of harmony. All sorts of chat rooms are one of the prime locations of virtual harassment which results in hazardous consequences. Recent instances of Meier, Ryan, Tyler Clementi reflects the serious consequences of the matter concerned. 

Global Efforts
Bullying, an initiative of The Alanah and Madeline Foundation conducts National Coalition Against Bullying Conferences every year which hold testimony to the fact that people are uniting against the menace of bullying. Numerous reports by NCAB elaborates on the emerging issues of Cyber Bullying. Evelyn M. Field, psychologist, writer and a Board Member of NCAB authored book," Bully" targets the uncovered issues of bullying in real as well as the virtual world. There are all sorts of help available on the internet which will guide one to avoid being bullied online. bullying.org, cyberbullying.ca are such efforts in the right direction.

Legislation Against Cyber Bullying
As far as India is concerned; there is no law that directly regulates cyber bullying. The Information Technology Act of 2000 (IT Act) are a set of laws to regulate the cyberspace but hardly do they focus on interpersonal criminal behaviour such as cyber stalking to the fullest.

In United States of America, Megan Meier Cyber Bullying Prevention Act was brought before the House of Representatives to prevent further events which happened with Megan Meier. Every State's legislation refers to the cyber crime laws with utmost seriousness. 

Word of Caution
  • Keep your internet connection password protected. 
  • Do not provide personal information like credit/debit card details to anyone on chat. 
  • Don't open a message from someone you don't know on Facebook, Orkut or Google+. 
  • Read the terms and conditions properly before providing personal details on any website. One needs to make sure that your personal information is utilised wisely and for appropriate purposes. 

Public View
Saurabh Jha, a prolific blogger feels that any form of bullying is no good to the society as it deeply hurts a person psychologically. There is a dire need for new legislations in India which bring about a change and also a fear among the perpetrators.

"Cyber Bullying has created a fear among the common people who use internet for their daily purposes. The social networking websites such as Facebook, Orkut have become a direct medium to bully innocent people. The current situation calls for an urgent mechanism in these websites to filter content which aims at hampering the social harmony "- says Ravi, a third year B Tech student at VIT.

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