Meghna Singhania’s parents recently noticed that their 11-year-old daughter had become quiet and withdrawn to such an extent that the Std VII student refused to get out of her house. On probing she revealed that she had received some emails from someone who had threatened to molest her.
Largely considered a western phenomenon till recently, cyber-bullying is making its dubious mark in India. And though more and more students are turning to the internet to defame and play pranks on their peers or teachers, very few parents and educationists are aware of the menacing effects of cyber-bullying.
Recently, a prominent IB school in Mumbai made all its students in Std VII, IX and X close down their Facebook accounts. The reason: some children were posting abusive notes to each other while others were filing their friends’ secrets online.
A DNA investigation into the online lives of school children found that a large number of them were increasingly finding themselves cornered online.
While traditional bullying, at least officially, can be tackled in time if a student or his parents discuss the problem with the teachers, cyber-bullying, by its very nature, tends to make a victim not talk about the problem. This, according to experts, happens because the child fears loss of internet time and freedom.
Dr Avinash D’Souza, a child psychiatrist, said that every week three to four victims of cyber-bullying visit him at his Santa Cruz clinic.
However, a more significant and terrifying reason, according to a study conducted by K Jaishanker in 10 A-list schools in Chennai, is that unlike the real world, a victim in the cyber world often has the opportunity and the desired motivation to do unto others what is being meted out to him. In other words, the victim bullies others to feel a tad better about himself/herself. Full story.