“Give me money or else I’ll edit all of your pictures and leak them”. So basically what cyberbullying is, to threaten, embarrass, or target someone through social media, harassing or blackmailing someone online or hacking someone’s account, using their pictures, videos or messages without their consent, which usually affects the psyche of that person and results in negative consequences, academic performances, emotional disturbance, self-isolation, and destruction of self-esteem. Cyberbullying is a crime associated with heavy penalties such as fines and years in prison.
Cyberbullying can be of many different types or methods, depending on the situation. The most common ways of cyberbullying are impersonation, threatening comments or messages, abusive messages, creating fake profiles, blackmailing for the sake of money, leaking someone’s private information, inappropriate photographs, death threats, video shaming, posting rumors et cetera.
A big example of cyberbullying is Shahid Khan, a 34-year-old man from Karachi who was arrested by the FIA Cyber Crime Wing over a girl’s complaint because of blackmailing her with her photos and demanded money. He used to have 2 fake IDs on Facebook, used fake pictures to befriend girls, made marriage promises to them, demanded pictures, and used those against them in order to extort money from them. There are millions of examples of cyberbullying around us, the use of the internet is increasing day by day and with that, cyberbullying is increasing too.
Boys and girls both appear to be targeted equally for cyberbullying or harassment, in fact, a recent national survey of youth shows that the average age of a teenager involved in cyberbullying is only 15 years old. Reasons, why people engage in cyberbullying are:
- Anonymity- cyberbullying allows bullies to avoid facing their victims, less fear of getting caught.
- Low self-esteem- targeting vulnerable people and abusing them might become a way of feeling powerful or superior for them.
- Ignorance of the consequences- The National Council on Crime Prevention reports that in a survey of teenagers, 81% said the others, cyber bully because they find it funny. Since they don’t see their victim’s reaction in person, they may not realize how much damage they are doing to them.
The blanket of a screen between people engaging with each other, births abnormal courage to act in a certain way in which one might not act, in real life maybe. The responsibility to make the internet a safe place falls on each of us. Parents, teachers, and guardians should teach their children that the limits and boundaries they acquire, apply to both the real world as well as the online world. Make them aware of cyberbullying, let them know you are there to help them out, sit and have a conversation with your child about their daily life routine, encourage them to tell you if they have been or are being cyberbullied, monitor them when they use the internet, limit their access to the internet, observe them if you think that a child is involved in cyberbullying.
There are several things you can do: Notice- if there has been a change in mood or behavior and explore what the cause might be. Support- peers, mentors, and trusted adults should express their concern towards the issue. Talk- ask questions to know what is happening, how it started, and who is involved. Document- keep a record of what happened or happening and where. Take screenshots of content if possible. Report- if you think it is getting serious or worse that you cannot handle it, report it to the police.
To report cyberbullying, crime, or harassment in Pakistan, there is an official website by FIA of cyberbullying located in Islamabad called NR3C- NATIONAL RESPONSE CENTRE FOR CYBERCRIME. It’s a federal investigation agency to prevent any kind of electronic crime act. Though it is not an easy task to eliminate cybercrime at least the government, parents, and educational institutes can try to discourage this activity and make the internet a safer place for all.