Cyber-bullying: World of Cruelty

Introduction

Bullying refers to using power or aggression in-order to dominate, this behavior is mostly found amongst the teenagers. People don’t feel uncomfortable or shy when they humiliate or torcher anyone. It is an unwanted attitude or aggression. Children who have become the prey of bullying go through both mental and emotional trauma. It decreases their confidence and is deeply affected by the inferiority complex. Their future is contrived because of bullying. There are various reasons for which bullying happens like revenge, the person doesn’t like the other person, for fun or to get the attention or for becoming popular. Bullying can arise from distrust, fear, misunderstanding, lack of knowledge, or jealousy—all factors that schools can address in positive and proactive ways.[1] There are six types of bullying, amongst which cyber-bullying is the most common.

Cyber-bullying is humiliating the person on the internet through various sources such as making fun of them by making memes and abusing them publicly on the social media platform. This is online bullying torturing innocent students with the help of the technology. “The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”[2] In India, there are no such laws for cyber-bullying and hence, therefore, there is a need to focus on these laws.

In this article, the focus is drawn upon the cyberbullying laws in India, the impact on the student community due to cyberbullying, and how it can be hold-back.

Cyber-bullying

Cyber-bullying is different from other types of bullying. Its impact is huge, with the increase in technology teenagers have adopted different ways to humiliate and torture others on different social media platforms. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, victims’ personal information, or pejorative labels (i.e. hate speech).[3] In an online community, internet trolling is a common form of bullying. Cyber-stalking is also another form of bullying, the culprit uses the mode of electronic communications to stalk a victim or target. The cyber-stalkers send a lot of messages to embarrass or torture the person and also ask the other person to message them, he uses different accounts to message that person so that the identity of the stalker does not get revealed.

Stalking

Cyberstalking can include many items like assaults, sex abuse, false allegations, harassment, slander, libel, theft of identities, and vandalism. Cyberstalking is also used as an indication of a desire to monitor, threaten, or exploit a victim in tandem with offline stalking. A cyber-speaker can be someone the victim knows, or a total stranger, and he is a criminal offender. It is a threat to the life of the victim and the person who has the cyber-stalk attack might have to undergo trauma.

Under the Indian Penal Code Section 35D provides stalking laws for India. The act says that

 I. Contacts and follows a woman or attempts to contact such woman to repeatedly proselytize personal correspondence despite being an obvious indication of disinterest by such woman or;

II. Observing a woman’s use of the internet, text messaging, e-mail or any other means of electronic contact is a stalking offense.’

Racism is a factor in cyber-stalking as well.

Therefore, there are no given clauses in the criminal laws in India that precisely criminalizes cyberstalking in India. The cases of cyberstalking are dealt with the Information Technology Act, 2000, and Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. Section 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 states that publication of any obscene material online or in any electronic form then is the crime of obscenity and hence the culprit will be held liable for his action under this Act. Cyber-stalking is also done to defame.

Legislation for cyber-bullying in India

Bullying has been restricted in schools and it can be controlled over there but it is not possible to stop this on the internet or on any online platform. No-one is protected from cyber-bullying because it can happen at any place, time through emails, text messages, videos, etc. India has become the global capital in cyber-bullying. According to the 2014 study conducted by the Internet security company, McAfee, “Half of the youth in India have had some experience with cyberbullying.”[4]

The anti-cyber-bullying law is Section 66 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides punishment for sending offensive, annoying material through information and communication technology. The various laws under which cyber-stalking can be avoided are:

  • Electronic publication or transmitting of sexually explicit content -Sec. 67A
  • Name, gesture, or behavior intended to offend a woman’s modesty -Sec. 509
  • Sending defamatory email messages-Sec. 499 IPC
  • Printing, sale, advertisement, blackmailing, sexually obscene or scurrilous matter- Sec. 292A
  • Stalking and touching, or calling a woman -Sec. 354D
  • Privacy violation- Sec.66E
  • Anonymous communication leads to criminal intimidation — Sec. 507

Although there are laws to penalize bullying, only a few victims and their families report instances of cyberbullying. A majority prefer to stay silent and hope that things will improve on their own.[5] But the laws are not that effective and responsive.

Impact of Cyber-bullying

The student community is the most impacted because of cyberbullying. Students are the peak target of online attacks. With the increase in technology and communication, these crimes have also arisen. Teenagers are in their growing age and the technological world attracts them and they become an easy trap. For example, posting pictures on social networking sites may be a threat, accepting the request of the random person or sharing your confidential details to get access to certain sites. All this can add a lot of threat or danger in the life of the innocent social media fans.

The major impact that is caused from cyber-bullying is:

Negativity will be developed in the person and he/she would prefer to maintain distance from the internet. His inner conscience will not allow him to be the part of something which can endanger his or her family life. This is the technology growing world and people prefer to rely more on this rather than any other source. This will separate them from the society and create more trouble from themselves.

But beyond that, the most blatant and concerning effect of cyberbullying is how it can impact the victim’s mental health. Faced with a constant barrage of insults and harassment, the victims of cyberbullying often grapple with negative thoughts, insecurity, and even depression after their attacks occur.[6]

It’s difficult to feel safe when someone becomes the victim of cyberbullying. When cyberbullying happens, multitudes of people can share the nasty posts, messages, or texts. The sheer volume of people who know about the bullying can lead to intense humiliating feelings.[7]

Feeling of inferiority complex is developed inside the students that they cannot do anything and their confidence is shunned. They start questioning their value and worth. They are attacked in the area where they are most vulnerable. They become disinterested in their lives and for the meaning of life become hopeless. They reduce their interaction and spend most of the time with themselves. They also develop anger issues. For the school going students, they may also feel disinterested in school. Cyberbullying victims often have much higher rates of absenteeism at school than non-bullied kids.[8]

Their communication gets barred because they seclude themselves from all the social media platforms. Hence, therefore it becomes difficult for them to make friends and build any network. The risk of suicide has been increased because of cyber-bullying. Tortured with the number of messages they find to overcome their pain suicide is the only solution.

Solution

Escaping or running from cyber-bully is not a solution, but there is a need for an urgent and permanent solution for this. Laws need to be more strict and cyber laws need to be amended. In India implementation of the cyber laws are weak. Like for controlling the crime there is police, there must also be cyber police to whom the matter may be disclosed or informed about the things happening on the online platform. Lack of taking actions on the crime increases the number of crimes and the culprit is not being cached. There is no tracking of the data and the errors in the technology. With the vast growth of technology, there is also a rise in crimes.

Law will come into action only when the victim discloses the matter or issue but in most cases, victims opt to remain silent because of several reasons. Due to which some grave and serious issues are left unnoticed. If the case is reported then the strict and immediate action must be taken because delaying may cost someone’s life.

People should also be alert and they must not share their information on the unreliable sites. They must be sure before accepting anyone’s request and should avoid having a conversation with random people. If they encounter any such issue then they must immediately report to cyber report.

Conclusion

Our safety is in our own hands. Exploring the internet might be risky now-days. It’s the time when we should be alert and understand the intensity of cyber-crime on an individual. In today’s era, there is nothing without networking or the internet but nothing should compromise with our safety. Laws need to be stronger if they aren’t then it’s our responsibility to not overpower ourselves and need to take action against this. Bullying is humiliating someone. Society does not grow by bullying someone it grows with strong and smooth cooperation and by respecting each other’s space. Say no to cyber-bullying and yes to cooperation. 

References

  • The Indian Penal Code
  • Information Technology Act
  • Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
  • US Legal
  • Oxford Dictionary

Questions

  • How can cyber-bully be avoided?
  • What do anti-cyberbullying laws say?
  • What are the laws under which cyberstalking can be avoided?
  • Why are students affected because of cyberbullying?
  • How is technology playing a major role in the increase of cyber-crimes?

[1] Why does bullying happen? Bullying No WAY! https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/UnderstandingBullying/WhyDoesBullyingHappen.

[2] Oxford Dictionary

[3] US Legal, Inc, Cyber Bullying Law and Legal Definition Cyber Bullying Law and Legal Definition | US Legal, Inc., https://definitions.uslegal.com/c/cyber-bullying/ (last visited May 31, 2020).

[4] Team Parent Circle, Cyberbullying: Laws And Policies In India Parent Circle (2020), https://www.parentcircle.com/article/cyberbullying-laws-and-policies-in-india/

[5] Team Parent Circle, Cyberbullying: Laws And Policies In India Parent Circle (2020), https://www.parentcircle.com/article/cyberbullying-laws-and-policies-in-india/

[6] Cyberbullying’s Impact on Both Society and Security, McAfee Blogs (2018), https://www.mcafee.com/blogs/consumer/cyberbullyings-impact-society-and-security/

[7] Sherri Gordon, The Real-Life Effects of Cyberbullying on Children Very well Family (2019), https://www.verywellfamily.com/what-are-the-effects-of-cyberbullying-460558

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