A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes… Mark Twain
“Cyberbullying” is when a child or adult is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child or adult. Cyberbullying is not limited to time and space like real-life bullying – which makes it worse. Real-life bullying victims are often weak, and those with low self-esteem struggle to stand up for themselves. With cyberbullying, the victim is anyone.
Cyberbullying can be more malicious than traditional forms of bullying. The reasons for that is that it can be done anonymously, the contents are distributed to a much wider group than just onlookers, the bully can alter images, and it is not limited to time and space.
The following methods can be used to cyberbully using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones:
Text messages, Picture /Video clips, Mobile phone calls, E-mail, Chat rooms, Instant messages, Websites and Blogs, Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Internet gaming.
The Bureau of Youth Research at UNISA¹ recently published statistics that indicated a rise in cyberbullying among school learners in South Africa. The 2016 study reveals that 56.1% of female learners and 56.9% of male learners were bullying victims in cyberspace. The platform used most for bullying is WhatsApp.
Top five means of cyberbullying in South African schools:
% of learners who experienced cyberbullying
46,5% of learners experienced false statements made by others.
36.7% of learners said they received upsetting messages.
22,8% of learners said they received threatening messages.
20,8% of learners were being socially isolated or pushed away.
Risk factors that increase incidences of cyberbullying
Shared personal information with known friends online/offline:
• Shared cell phone password (66.1%)
• Shared social network log in details (33.9%)
• Shared email login details (16.8%)
Shared personal information with an unknown person met online:
• Shared cell phone password (25.5%)
• Shared social network log in details (20.7%)
• Shared email login details (8.1%)
Statistics from: NATURE, EXTENT AND IMPACT OF BULLYING AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNERS IN GAUTENG, 2017. (Technical Report) Research Report No 482
Note: You can be sued from the age of 7 in your own name. –Emma Sadleir
Denigration involves sending or posting malicious gossip or rumours about a person to damage their reputation or friendships. It also includes posting or sending digitally altered photographs of someone to others, particularly photos that portray the victim in a sexualised or harmful way.
Harassment involves frequently sending a cruel or threatening message to a person’s e-mail account or mobile phone. It is usually persistent and repeated and is directed to a specific person. It may cause alarm, annoyance or substantial emotional stress to the receiver.
The SA Law Reform Commission distinguishes between direct and indirect harassment. Direct harassment includes threats, bullying or intimidating electronic messages send directly to the victim. Indirect harassment includes spreading rumours about the victim through unwanted online services and posting information about the victim on online dating or sex services.
Impersonation or Identity theft:
This occurs when someone breaks into someone else’s e-mail or social networking account and poses as that person, sending messages or other information or pictures online in a bid to damage the victim’s reputation and friendships or to get the victim into trouble or danger.
Outing involves sharing someone’s secrets or embarrassing information or images online with people with whom the information was never intended to be shared. In some instances, deception is used to trick someone into revealing their secrets or embarrassing information, and these are then shared online with others.
Like traditional stalking, cyberstalking involves threats of harm or intimidation through repeated online harassment and threats. Cyber Harassment uses Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to harass, control, manipulate or habitually disparage a child, adult, business or group without a direct or implied threat of physical harm.
Happy slapping involves incidents where people walk up to someone and slap them, while another captures the violence using a mobile phone camera.
Flaming is when online fights occur via electronic messages containing angry vulgar language. Messages may include threats and insults.
Tricking someone into revealing personal information than sharing it with others.
Intentionally leaving someone out of a group, such as instant messaging, friend sites, or other online group activities.
Information courtesy of CJCP, Issue paper no. 10. August 2011.
Cyber sexual exploitation is when an adult tries to lure a child into offline meetings. Such an adult is called a sexual predator.
Grooming is when someone builds an emotional connection with a child to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – for example a family member, friend or professional.
They come from messages sent to you directly.
Example: You receive a message which says: ”You are ugly. Please go and kill yourself.”
Indirect attacks ( attacks -by-proxy):
Using others to help cyber-bully the victim, either with or without the accomplice’s knowledge.
Example: A message or picture is sent between other parties concerning you – it can be via email, SMS, Facebook, Snapchat, or WhatsApp.
Why do people cyberbully?
- For fun
- For power
- To defend themselves.
- NATURE, EXTENT AND IMPACT OF BULLYING AMONG SECONDARY SCHOOL LEARNERS IN GAUTENG, 2017. (Technical Report) Research Report No 482
- Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A teenager’s online survival guide. SADLEIR, EMMA. 2017