Dealing with Cyber-Bullying

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Usually, cyber-bullies are children, pre-teens and early teenagers. Recently, Dr. Sameer Hinduja tweeted that resilience is the way to deal with and mitigate cyber-bullying.

Dr. Hinduja is a “professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University and Co-Director of the Cyber-Bullying Research Center. He is recognized internationally for his groundbreaking work on the subjects of cyber-bullying and safe social media use, concerns that have paralleled the exponential growth in online communication by young people.” Cyber-bullying is the online manifestation of real life instances of the same. The rule that popular children and those who are physically powerful indulge in bullying does not necessarily apply in the realm of the same being carried out in the cyber space. Cyber-bullying can be tormented response to real life bullying or the same popular, physically powerful child can be an online bully as well. Although child rearing and his /her socio-cultural environment are key factors in making or demolishing the bully culture; school and education system are also equally responsible.

Dr. Hinduja explains the importance of building social competencies in children that not only makes them capable in dealing with bullies but will also help them in the long run as they grow older.  More socially competent children will also eliminate the bully culture. Since bullies derive momentum from external response to torture; the cutting off of the response will immediately make bullies powerless. Social competency consists of social, emotional and cognitive skills that lead the child to be more comfortable and hence confident with social interaction. The child needs to understand social cues, assessing people and fine-tuning his / her responses. The idea is to make the situation better and not making the child a bully in an attempt to pulverize another bully.

Dr. Hinduja in his article “Cultivating Resilience to Prevent Bullying and Cyber-bullying” explains that adult response is to protect the child who is bullied rather than building his /her capacity to fight back constructively. Every child needs to inculcate self-confidence, problem solving abilities, autonomous (decision-making) and having a generic sense of purpose (that is ideally independent of external gratification).

In my opinion, parenting and education system needs to evolve so that healthier children are made. In our culture, a child is raised by a posse of adults who may or may not have the same ideologies and value systems in life. This creates the culture of domination and recession towards the race in setting the mould based on which child rearing is cast. Our government education system has no systematic facility to empower each individual regardless of his / her academic brilliance. A child is a quick learner and senses this complexity about his / her socio-cultural make-up. Differently abled children and those from lesser privileged financial setup are more vulnerable to being bullied as compared to those children who are more adaptable to mainstream life demands.

In response to cyber-bullying and lack of online safety, the Centre for Social Research in association with Facebook and Twitter have implemented ‘SocialSurfing’ and ‘TweeSurfing’ initiatives where we engage with the youth on online abuse, employing counter speech to deal with trolls and using social media for social change. Through this process, we have reached out to over 15,000 students from hundreds of colleges across the country. We also provide help to those who reach out to us via social media.

 

 

 

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