Cyber bullying was first mentioned by Bill Besley, who defines it as “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.”
Over the years, cyber bullying has subsequently been defined as “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person”.
Bullying comes in the form of aggressive behaviour. It consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal and physical. Bullying has long been a problem in school or at work, but was usually confined to the school yard or hallway. But with the technologies now, bullying is so much easier than it was before with sms-es, emails, social networking sites and an unlimited audience online. Traditional bullies had to let their victims see them and could only gain the support of friends who were around. But now, cyber bullies can humiliate, threaten, and belittle their victims without their identity being known, and they can have an audience of thousands. No doubt, victims of cyber bullying in society are mostly the young, particularly students.
In the short video attached below, 13 year old Megan Meier hanged herself after being a victim of cyber bullying. Even her mum, whom Megan thought would have sided her, reprimanded her for her mistakes, and that she had no one else to blame but herself for being a victim of cyber bullying.
Megan is not the only victim of cyber bullying today. As mentioned earlier, cyber bullying is so much easier and convenient now and on top of that, the bullies can remain anonymous. It is difficult, or what I would say impossible, to stop cyber bullying. Maybe for a country that is almost 100% literate and educated, and spends a lot advertising on being courteous and kind, is free from cyber bullying?
Well, maybe not… Singapore have our own cyber bullying case as well.. This images were posted on The Straits Times Stomp, a popular local website, on 05 Novenmber 209 and 30 January 2010 repectively.
Arrogant ACJCians mock and cyber-bully ‘O’ level students on FB
Cyber bully mocks classmate and defaces her picture on blog
In addition, this website has more cases of cyber bullying in Singapore.
According to Kantianism Theory, this act is obviously a wrong act. It is never anyone’s duty or obligation to bring emotional harm to others. The abuser is obviously making use of the abused as a means to his ends, his pleasure. In addition, according to Virtue Ethics, a virtuous agent would definitely find cyber bullying a wrong action. A person with normal character and morals will know that there is no benefit to gain from such a disgraceful act.
It is not that governments around the world are standing idle, regarding cyber bullying. They are in fact trying very hard to combat this form of bullying. However, cyber bullying is like a viral problem. It is nearly impossible to eliminate. A top-down approach is probably not the way to go.
For me, I believe that the best way to combat Cyber Bullying in school, is firstly, for teachers themselves to pledge against cyber bullying. Some teachers surprisingly cyber bully too, by making sarcastic remarks of their students’ work online. Then, it is important for teachers to know exactly the different characters and behaviours of each of their students. It is important for teachers to know what exactly is happening in school as they are the only ones who know what kind of students they have in their class. Teachers can identify very easily those that are always alone or troubled, and those that are always in a group mocking others. Many, as I’ve come across, chose to turn a blind eye over these matters as they feel that it is not important or relevant to them. I find this really unacceptable.
Personally, I’ve witnessed many traditional bullying and cyber bullying in school. It is really devastating for the victims, especially when they have no one to turn to. Being friendly and outgoing, I always have many friends in school and have never been ostracised. Yet, I feel for this victims. Sometimes, I make an effort to reach out to these victims by talking to them, and tell my friends who bully to stop their nonsense too, which normally they will. But my actions alone cannot do much. And to say the truth, I don’t want to start a fight make a scene with my friends too.
On the whole, I feel that there is no concrete solution to cyber bullying yet.. But parents and teachers especially, should spend more time understanding and listening to those who are troubled, and make a stand. This is a bottom up approach, and the best, I feel.
To end of this post, here is an anti-cuber bullying advertisement.