Expanding technology is a double-edged sword, within which one has to continuously balance the risk and opportunities. The phrase ‘general public is only one click away from the world’ is no longer a cliché. On one hand, the Internet has made the whole world a much smaller place, providing innumerable opportunities with minimal resources. While on the other hand, there is a dark side stimulating sexual aggression and abuse, targeting the most vulnerable section of society – Children.
Online technology is used to target children for bullying and seeking revenge, via the internet, mobile phones, or other electronic devices. As a result, the internet considered a boon for many and used for the development & welfare of a nation, now has become a source of causing harm to the weak and vulnerable. In this paper discussed is the difference between cyberbullying and regular bullying, impacts, methods and prevailing laws, among others.
Today’s digitalized generation is well-versed with technology and internet, more than ever before. A profusion of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, computers, laptop, and tablets are in use and often screen time of children not monitored. Even by children, who often unaware of the consequences of their actions cause a huge level of suffering in the form of bullying. Bullying, whether online or in physical form is harmful, no matter which kind, type, or how it’s done. The main difference between physical bullying is that it happens in front of the individual or group of people but in virtual bullying, people get bullied by the mean of anonymity which sometimes leads to exploitation and self-destruction.
Cyberbullying takes place in a virtual form and occurs on an online platform, within which the sender starts a communication through email, text, or sends a message to the receiver. It may consist of commenting on someone’s post or any visual video on social media in a negative perspective, even a threatening manner. It can easily happen when somebody over the text which demeans, post, or writes some signifies that can be even audio, video, and posts. Various online/virtual platform do not have any age restriction habitats like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook, where information floats in a positive as well as negative perspective and accessible all over the world. In my opinion this is violative of two specific doctrines within the Constitution of India i.e. right to speech and expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution. The Indian Constitution, guarantees several rights – an individual has right to give opinion in any subject matter or issues but there is restriction to speak in a vulgar, abusive, or offensive in case it violates the rights of another individual.
Every individual has the right to live their life with full dignity without restriction, but when fulfilling one’s own desire if some other person’s right is violated, then there is a need for restriction. It cannot be also denied that ensuring absolute freedom may amount to encouraging criminal minded acts, for example hate speech towards someone, can result in bodily injury or harm to any person.
Demeaning/Threatening /audio/videos posted publicly on the online platform affect the mental health of children. The victim of cyberbullying often becomes fearful, depressive and in a confused state of mind. Children are compelled to change their schools or college, and they develop low self-esteem. Reports state that most cases are not even reported or lodged as the parents tell their children not to share with anyone, neither in online platform nor in any social media. The impact is so severe on some victims that they even go to the extent of wanting to commit suicide.,
To give an example of the wider reach and implications of cyber bullying over only physical bullying. If a boy uses the toilet and forgets to zip up his pants, then other boys on noticing it rather than politely making him aware of his mistake, joke about it. Classmates may make fun of him in front of the whole class by teasing, and mocking him. The matter will escalate to a different level and become cyber bullying if a classmate takes the photos of the boy with unzipped pants and posts it online.
Social or Digital Media (Advanced or modified technology) has now worldwide become the fourth pillar of democracy. However while ensuring the individual’s right for expression, simultaneously hate speeches, bullying, and another virtual, as well as non-virtual offense, should be taken care of. It is important to understand the need to protect the human rights and maintain cyber democracy. Given below are various types of methods employed in cyber bullying –
- Flaming – whenever a person uses an inappropriate or offensive term to hurt someone in a bad way either by sending messages or by positing any immaterial or material things for targeting the sufferer, subsequently it’s just like trolling but in the process of flaming the messages are usually sent directly to the specified person in the form of direct messages (dm).
- Harassing – if a person sends anything disgraced, inappropriate, hateful, malice, hurtful messages online to someone which should be repeated in the process to harm the emotions or sentiments of other individuals.
- Outing – in social media platform when a person somehow manages to take any secret and sensitive set of personal knowledge or information about some other person and publicize, without taking any sort of permission from the actual person just for upholding the main purpose to harm the reputation of the sufferer will be termed as an outing. This set of personal information can anything pictures, messages, private images, and any other detail that may be set within the virtual platform aiming to humiliate the victim in public.
- Exclusion – the actual meaning of the exclusion is segregation within which today’s teens are more interested in a group talking due to which there is an online group made between friends, colleagues, and relatives but someone id intentionally or accidentally left apart. The separated person will start online target for bully the victim are it ultimately grievously affect the psychology of an individual.
- Impersonation – if there is any personal information publicize and then the individual who leaked acts like someone else damages the reputation by sharing or circulating the information (real, pirated, or fabricated) then it is ultimately coined as Masquerading. It usually happens when the person is bullying someone by making any type of fake profile or fake id for imposing the sole purpose of bullying the person or individual through online mode i.e. cyberbullying. The fake account in social media, email account, etc. in all the cases the bully majorly has been considered one of the known people from the side of victims. Fake account within which an individual form a false identity is referred to as a “Sock puppet” that divulge personal information for deteriorating the status.
- Stalking – it is quite often to observe or have a constant checking out of the profile on an online platform as well as sending the messages for bullying the person for scaring, harm, threatening over the people, the act includes monitoring, constant supervision, threats, pressure, and even often followed up by the online stalking. Disturbing, ignorance and constant observation over the activities is a criminal offense that can result in the process of probation, restraining order, or jail time.
- Trickery – it is considered as an outing with a surplus amount of deception, where the conversation starts like primarily he/she gain the confidence as well as a trust over which the person shares all the sensitive or private information the main twist of the communication ends here that the person who is going to bully will start using against the actual person. When the person has bad or malafide intention that can be used against the targeted person is abused and constantly discouraged in such a matter that he/she losses everything
- Framing – everyone’s life is quite entangled with their own set of issues, moreover, every individual should be able to solve their problem and move on with the work. This scenario will be more interesting when an individual has a group of friends or acquaintances that will be upholding funnier situations when someone targets a person by accessing the defined profile within the mode of social media or any platform on a virtual level. With that post an unwanted or false comment with inappropriate content, it may cause no further harm whenever it is done from the side of friends but it has a high possibility of invading decency. The intention to add the post related to racial difference, disgracing someone, segregation, to harm someone’s profile or reputation can make an individual mentally affect or ill.
- Dissing – the targeted group is one who has segregated over and over again, for instance jealously or obsession over someone can lead to the spread of cruel or unwanted facts about someone, by public or private posts. This due process will affect the position of the person in society as well as a reputation as it comes out for knowing that it is not the person target but partial of relationship has been pinpointed.
- Trolling – trolling cannot be always cyber bullying but it has been considered as a method of making someone posting anything demeaning about some other person whom the people targeted to harm or upset with the action. It is defined as a method to comments with some hateful content, harmful words, and disrespecting them by saying some awful sentences.
Legal Provisions: Perspectives in India and Worldwide
If there is a report which states that cybercrime is only rampant in India, it will be considered as the wrong statement, even developed countries like the USA, UK, Canada, and many more have stringent laws and various regulation which are already struggling for permanent control over cyberbullying. However, if the condition has been taken into consideration that unlike in India, people in developed countries understand the importance of tackling the issue of cyberbullying especially in the cases of school-going children. Schools and colleges have also enacted rules and regulations for dealing with cyber related crime and also for taking action against the accused. There were many interesting debates within which there were few hypothetical questions framed in front of the jury that whether parents or family members can be held under suspect list or liable for their children conduct, as massively misusing the gadgets for the inefficient level of communication. The suggestion was defined that it can be useful for making a safe and sustainable environment for the children by not restricting the activities of their children but the parents can make sure that they can keep their children well-informed and aware about the gestures.
- USA – The law in the US is different at three different levels -regional, state and federal.. In some cases ‘bullying’ overlaps with the offenses related to discriminatory acts regarding harassment covered by civil rights law under the federal level. Compensation and remedies are different in different states like California, Florida, and Missouri, which have their own set of principles, laws, statute, and doctrines –
- California – the state law of the territory has defined punishment of $1000 – 1500 and jail for up to 1 year, the condition is if anyone found causing fear, threat, or any pressure to someone’s life through the mode of electronic communication.
- Florida – the legal provision with the name of Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All the Student Act which has been looked upon by the people who have been victims of cyberbullying. which is committed by the use of technology or any type of electronic communication. The legal statute fails to provide a complete set of definition for cyberbullying and also lack to give any kind of comprehensive punishment. Schools have their own set of rules which can only have a direct regulation from the authorities, within which the child can report the offense.
- Missouri – the state law defines cyberbullying as form of bullying “through the transmission of the different mode of communication which includes various type of electronic services, mobiles, etc, but it is not restricted to a text, messages, images, picture, sound or post by the mean of an electronic easily usage devices or with the use of any electronic mode/medium for communication”. Any person or even an individual who uses the medium of social media as a platform to bully another person with some kind of violent act, threats, specifically would be charged under the offense of harassment. The bifurcation related to the degree of offense is mainly divided from Class A to Class D, likewise, Class A offense will cover the criminal offense like harassment but if the victim is minor then it becomes a Class D offense. Then the potential act will be attracted towards the harassment initially only when the violent threats are there but if the condition is lack of coercion then it will be not making any type of difference. The state of Missouri has elaborated the definition of cyberbullying to a good and sensitive extent that it fairly contains more than one element but it shall also include violent threats with other harm to the victim which can be either bodily or mental. The punishment which was decided by the state shall be enforced strictly and rigidly if anyone is found guilty of the particular or specified offense.
- Singapore – Applicable is the Protection from Harassment Act [POHA], which has been recently amended for the protection of people from trolling and other activities/conduct that happens in online or virtual communication platform. Under the law, harassment made on the virtual model at the workplace, bullying, leaking sensitive data, and stalking is now been consider illegal. The person who has been targeted can further file a complaint about an application under POHA. Requested can be made of criminal charges or only request with the civil remedy which includes prevention from future harm to the victim. The condition can be looked upon as if the accused is been found guilt or proven guilty then he/she will be charged with a fine for almost $5000 – 6000 or if the activities continue then it can be extended to 10000 dollars and the tenure of imprisonment up to 12 months. Under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act it is already under the government body which explains the act of harassment as a crime and is further defined.
- India –In India cyberbullying is used in a different sense but under the guideline of IT (Information Technology) Act and IPC (Indian Penal Code), the main provision which is used to cover the particular offense of cyberbullying was defined under section 66A moreover, everything which was explained is in a vague sense. No concrete or rigid definition for the offense which was provided in the provision, which signifies 3 years of punishment and fine but contrary to the statement the offense is bailable have never taken seriously to that much extend. Explanation of the provision was – terms Electronic Mail or Electronic mail message means a message or post or any type of information transmitted or created which is received from a computer, system, electronic resources/sources or device. That includes attachments in images, pictures, text, audio, video, posts, and another record of electronic device which can be sent through messages.
Data on Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is vigorously growing at an increasing rate, both in India and worldwide. About 20,000 – 30,000 parents participated in worldwide research related to high-risk within the online platform, and over 65% singled out of the cyberbullying in social media as one of the biggest fears. Common threats and coercion within the ambit of society are mostly covered as text messages (disgrace, fearful, and vague) 38%, and chat rooms that are 35%. According to the Indian parents, their children experience cyberbullying once in their lifespan whereas Japan and Russia elaborate that there has been neither the case of cyberbullying nor their children have faced any type of problem-related to the virtual platform. According to the cases which were pleaded in front of the court in the year of 2018, as per the report which was stated as India experienced around 37%, Italy is 11%, Spain and France around 9% and finally, Russia claims that there is no cyberbullying case. The survey by official performed by Telenor Group, talk about the cyberbullying and their own set of precaution, some parents prefer to talk to their children but due to the generation gap and a huge level of misunderstanding, they are unsuccessful. According to the survey which was done by the group have bifurcated as 46% of the parent have communication with their children continuously, 39% frequently have a conversation, and lastly, 12-15% of the guardian do not even prefer or care to talk about this subject matter.
Cyberbullying is the one of most vicious crimes, specifically when children are victims because it has the potential to mentally disturb in such a manner that child may even think of committing suicide. Writing, speaking, containing any type of emotional gestures, hatred, feelings of jealousy, using abusive language, demeaning words, and negative conduct over an individual which can impact on the position or reputation of the person. The mental trauma which is quite normal these days and is seen frequently can include – stress, anxiety, depression, instability over the mind, feebleness over speech, nervousness, and affecting act that shows imbalance mental peace. Internet and advancement in technology lead to development as well as welfare of the nation. Every resource can be used in both the sense positive as well as negative but it is up to the people within which they prefer to consume the facilities. The government and all the statutory authorities have enacted much-codified law according to the need of the people living in the society but for every enforcement of the policies, the main and most important element which is required is implementation. Due to dynamic changes within society, people should start changing their mentality as when their will be development of the mind it is will considered growth as well as progression of the country.
BY – GARIMA JARGAR
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