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Cyberbullying – A Changing Trend of Modern Crime

13 Nov 2020

Cybercrime has emerged as one of the biggest modern-day challenges. With the advancement in technology and increased accessibility of the internet, cybercrime and cyberbullying are simultaneously on the rise. Almost all internet users have faced cyberbullying at some point, knowingly or unknowingly. Statistics and data show that women and teenagers (both boys and girls) are the most vulnerable group and often falls victims of cyberbullying.

UNDERSTANDING CYBERBULLYING

Cyber Bullying or Cyber harassment, also known as online bullying, falls under the wide umbrella of cybercrime. There are many forms of cyberbullying and harassment; therefore it is important to understand what falls within the ambit of ‘Cyberbullying’. Establishing the root idea of ‘bullying’, if we look at the dictionary definition of a bully, it is defined as – “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable)”. So, any person or group of persons who seek to harm, coerce, intimidate, threaten someone is said to be bullying the latter.

The widely accepted definition of ‘Cyberbullying’, by cybercrime experts is – “an aggressive, intentional act or behavior that is carried out by a group or an individual, using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly and overtime against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself”.

When a person or group of persons, bully, or harass another, with the use of digital technologies, on the internet or other digital sphere, is considered cyberbullying. This may include sharing private photos and videos without consent, create fake accounts and spam groups or individuals online, body shaming, create memes and videos of goof ups or slips of individuals mostly celebrities, etc.

Such acts or behavior generally occur on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, etc, via SMS, Instant Messages (IM)) services like WhatsApp, FB Messenger, I-Message, etc or through E-mail, or in chat rooms and even on gaming platforms.

As per a 2016 estimate by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), globally, one in three internet users is a child whereas, in India, the recent ‘India Internet Report 2019’ suggests that two in three internet users are between 12 and 29 years of age. The young age of this group of internet users often falls prey to online bullies due to their psychological makeup. This has resulted in a spike in cyberbullying and harassment cases. As a matter of fact, in one year alone (2017-2018), cyberbullying of Indian women and teenagers rose by 36%.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED AS CYBERBULLYING

There are many forms of cyber-bullying. The degree and nature of these cyber offenses are also varied. Cyberbullies tend to resort to repeated behavior with intent to humiliate, scare, anger, or shame the targeted victims. Citing some examples of cybercrime and bullying,

  • Spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos of someone on social media;
  • Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf;
  • Hacking personal accounts again and again;
  • Flaming, which is the use of vulgar or insensitive language to attack someone;
  • Sending threatening, hurtful or inappropriate messages to harass someone;
  • Sharing someone’s private messages or picture or threatening/blackmailing to do so;
  • Threatening someone to commit an act of violence or threats of pornography;
  • Stalking someone and sending targeted messages;
  • Child pornography or threats of child pornography, etc.

It is also possible that sometimes, a person may engage in online activities which he/she may think is harmless but amounts to cyberbullying or cyber harassment.

For instance, trolling or circulating memes that may seem harmless on the surface or done as friendly banter may have an adverse psychological effect on the ‘victim’.

Such type of cyberbullying is common and we don’t tend to think twice before indulging in such acts. One should be very careful and cautious before forwarding/circulating or commenting on such posts, pics, or updates.

CYBERBULLYING IN MANIPUR

Speaking closer to home, instances of trolling young, upcoming talents and celebrities have increased. While most handle it with ease and ignore it in their strides, some individuals, especially those belonging to the younger age group, experience tremendous pressure, deep psychological stress, and emotional breakdown.

In an incident that occurred sometime early this year, a young and upcoming singer/songwriter became a victim of online bullying. During an interview, she commented on her academic achievement at a tender age. This caused a series of reactions from netizens and overnight she became a victim of cyberbullying. Memes and trolls were circulated in a click, but what may have started as a good-humored jest ended up with the girl reportedly running away from home and completely disconnected from the entertainment industry.

This is only one such instance out of the countless cases that take place every day. Not all such cases are reported. However, such extreme trolling and cyber harassment should be discouraged as it could have a traumatic effect on the targeted person.

REPORT CYBER-BULLYING. DON’T REMAIN A SILENT VICTIM

To tackle and fight the rising menace of cyberbullying, the Police and Cyber Crime Unit (CCU), both at Central and State level have been working actively and relentlessly.

Anyone can become a victim of online harassment and bullying. Sometimes, the person may not even be aware that he/she is a victim of cyber bully or harassment. As mentioned before, this tends to have a deep psychological impact on the target. In extreme cases, cyberbullying can drive the victim to take drastic steps like self-harm and even suicide. Victims need to speak up and speak out or talk to a family member or a reliable, trusted person. Victims of cyberbullying can file a complaint against the ‘bully’ and initiate legal actions against such miscreants.

In Manipur, two tiers of Police units have been set up to tackle cybercrime. One is the Cyber Police Station set up for the whole State, Manipur, with its office at the CID Crime Branch office, Babupara, Imphal. The aggrieved person may lodge an FIR or file a direct complaint at the Cyber Police Station, Babupara, Imphal.

The other is the various Cyber Crime Units which have been set up in most of the districts of Manipur, under the supervision of respective Superintendent of Police.

To file or lodge a complaint at the Cyber Crime Unit, one has to report to the nearest Police Station, through which the complaint will be forwarded to the respective Cyber Crime Unit.

According to Addl SP Cyber Crime Police Station, N John, it may so happen that sometimes, the victim would report the case through a body or organization. Although this is permissible, this often leads to loss of electronic evidence in the process by the time the case reaches the Police/Cyber Crime Unit, making it hard for the Police to solve the case.

Cybercrime cases can be reported at the website www.cybercrime.gov.in or through the Helpline No 155260

 

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