Friday, May 16, 2014

The Age of Cyberbullying

By David Simms, Senior Contributor

Cyberbullying has gained much attention in recent months. The term bullying refers mainly to children and so cyberbullying has come to indicate internet attacks made on children. When it comes to youth around the world, it incites a protection instinct in us all, including policy makers in different countries who are also parents. This is one of the primary reasons we are seeing such swift action in
the drafting of bills to deal with the problem, and it is a good thing. However, the bullying problem goes well beyond the schoolyard and should also be as aggressively dealt with by the same lawmakers.  Traditionally when one thinks of bullying, they imagine a young person being pushed around by an older child-thug.  Maybe the child-thug is after lunch money or just likes to intimidate or harm other kids. But in reality the profile of an online bully is much different. They are many times exactly who we would never expect if we were to meet them in person, happy, kind, trustworthy etc., all qualities we admire.  These however are merely the everyday masks of the cyberbully. 

It is extremely important to note that cyberbullying is not just contained within schools.  There are bullying circumstances in the adult workplace as well. Nonetheless, the word bullying gives the impression of trivial activity happening between children. This could not be further from the case. In fact the word should be replaced with broader and more accurate terms such as cyber harassment, cyber terrorism, cyber rape, and cyber invasion. These cyber crimes kill children and adults alike on a daily basis. Suicide rates have skyrocketed since the explosion in popularity of social media and advancements in technology allowing greater and less expensive access to the internet.