The internet has exposed us to a myriad of cyber insecurities targeted at unsuspecting victims. Cyber bullying comes in as one of those proliferate cybercrimes perpetrated on cyber citizens.
Cyber bullying refers to the use of technology to send harassing, threatening, intimidating, humiliating and embarrassing messages about another person. It also involves impersonating a victim’s account and using it to send malicious messages.
Cyber bullying leverages on technologies like text messaging, instant messaging, social media, gaming sites and other online platforms that entertains traffic to disseminate malicious contents.
It is becoming rampant in our society due to complacence, lack of control and poor education of digital citizens on what is classified as bullying.
The detection applications abound, but offenders find convenient ways to evade these security hurdles. Most offenders use special characters and vernacular languages that these detection systems cannot pick up to evade detection.
Cyber bullies have one motivation and that is to feed their egos with the pains of the victim, this is a propelling factor for them and a constant push to keep finding new victims to exploit.
Cyber bullying affects the victims adversely and most times the victims bear the burden alone and suffer the consequences in isolation. It has no age restrictions as adults, youth and children can fall victims of this act.
Many countries of the world have provisions in their laws prohibiting cyber bullying and stipulating punishments for it.
The Nigerian cybercrime act of 2015 outlaws the act and prescribes punishment ranging from 2 million naira in fine and or 1 year imprisonment to 25 million naira in fine and or 10 years imprisonment depending on the severity.
Cyber bullies usually enjoy the benefit of being encouraged by online users directly or indirectly. Several ways cyber bullying is encouraged indirectly include;
- Recording and posting embarrassing contents about people.
- Communicating with people online in ways one would not do physically, by using swear word, and negative comments.
- Reposting, sharing or forwarding malicious contents created by cyber bullies.
- Tagging friends to malicious contents created by bullies hence helping the malicious contents go viral.
- Failure to report bullies to appropriate authorities.
The individuals who promote and encourage cyber bullies by engaging in the acts identified above are referred to as Enablers.
There is need for rapid sensitization campaigns to feature cyber bullying, with the aim of acquainting individuals on the scope, dangers and ways of curbing cyber bullying. However to help mitigate against cyber bullying;
- Report cyber bullies accounts via the report channels of the media platform involved.
- The law enforcement agencies should mount surveillance on cyber bullies and respond promptly when reported.
- Cyber bullies should be openly prosecuted and punished to serve as deterrent to other.
- Society should show more restraint in judging victims of cyber bullying and should desist from promoting bullying.
- Sensitization campaigns should be launched to enlighten the society on what constitutes cyber bullying and what punishment it attracts.
- Application developers should incorporate modules to detect and block cyber bullying.
- Do not respond to trolls or cyber bullies. Responding to them only makes the matter worse.
- Speak, share and discuss with trusted people and professionals around when you are bullied.
- In a severe case of cyber bullying, report to law enforcement agencies and seek legal redress. Victims should also seek help and support when they cannot handle bullying and bullies alone.
- Sharing and commenting on malicious contents only makes it worse and fuels the ego of the bully, so boycotting such posts is very helpful.
- Sensor and apply emotional intelligence in commenting on contents online.
- Identify when to ignore a post, especially when you are drawn to make a negative comment.
- Understand the emotional state of people before being casual or cracking jokes about them online.
- Individuals need to own their narratives and accept themselves entirely, there is need for individuals to believe in themselves and build self-confidence. In owning your flaws and weaknesses, you disarm the bullies and starve them of weak points to exploit.
Culled from the book “The A.B.C of Cyber Safety 1.0; Mitigation of Cyber Bullying” written by Chioma Chigozie-Okwum.