Posted by Sue

Note: This is my ethics assignment. :p
(Word Count: 1,283)

Bullying is simply a deliberate act of causing harm to other people. There are a few ways of how a person can bully another: verbally, physically or manipulation of certain things. Cyber-bullying is a type of bullying under manipulation of the information and communication technology. It has started since even before the Internet was made available to the public. People often associate cyber-bullying with kids, preteens and teens. It has to be them on both sides of cyber-bullying, or at least it is initiated by them. When adults are involved, it is just cyber-harassment or cyber-stalking. There are records of kids killed each other and committed suicide due to this issue. It may take place to the level of misdemeanour cyber-harassment charge. But if the child is below 18 years of age, he/she may be charged under juvenile delinquency. Why do kids cyber-bully? When we relate them together, we often hear that these kids are influenced by the feeling of anger, revenge or frustration. There are many reasons on why these young bullies perform such misdemeanour. Some do it for mere fun or because of having too much time in their hands and lots of gadgets to play and explore with. Some do it by accident and kids are known to do something without thinking. Some do it because of ego and they like the feeling of being the tough guy or girl. Some think that they’re doing the right thing by standing up for other kids. These kids could use almost all types of technology against their target. These manipulation of technology for bullying intentions include text messaging, phone calls, blogging, instant messaging and interfering with web pages and sites. The most significant technology being used for cyber-bullying nowadays would be through social networking and instant messages (IMs). There are two types of cyber-bullying that they could carry out, which are direct attacks and indirect attacks. Direct attacks are acts of cyber-bullying direct to the victims, whereas indirect attacks (also known as attacks by proxy) are the ones using other people to attack their victim, with or without the consent or awareness of the accomplice. On top of that, because indirect attacks usually involve adults in making the attacks, it is actually more damaging to the victim. Technologies can be used to terrorize, stalk and prey on unsuspecting individuals. These problems resulted in a jumble of newspaper articles on paedophilia activity (any sexual activity between an adult and a child, which includes sexual urges, fantasies, and behaviours), cyber stalking and cyber-bullying. These stories later have resulted in a wave of moral panic and there are requests and demands from concerned parents and others to regulate these technologies and to protect the children and other victims from these predators. Predators use the Internet to search for potential victims, win their hearts, set up a meeting and lure them to a trap. This is a scary fact of what has been happening since the emergence of the Internet.

The first time I used the Internet, which was somewhere in the year 1997, I have been exposed to ICQ – the most popular instant messaging service in my group of friends at that time. Afterwards, I found IRC, MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger. Ever since I was exposed to the Internet, I have received direct sexual messages, like people asking what was my “inner” size was, or have I cyber-sexed before. I have also received a harsh comment from an angry, anonymous reader of my blog at I immediately asked for advice from my trusted friend (whom is quite an expert in IT) and by following his advice, I deleted the comment (to avoid myself reading it again and get upset unnecessarily), turned off the anonymous comment feature (I never thought it was important before) on my blog and went on writing other posts and receive comments from people that have Google account. I was glad that I took all the necessary actions and the emotional pain didn’t last more than a week. Those incidents lead me to realise the importance of education and awareness of how technology may affect us. Even though I have yet received threats from other technology users, I have read a lot regarding cyber-attacks on children. This creates fear within me for my siblings and friends who use technology in daily basis. Because of my previous experiences with the Internet, I usually advice my younger siblings and close friends about the danger of cyber-attacks whenever I see them using this media.

Cyber-bullying is a very complex area and there are actually many issues to consider. As this issue arise from the lack of monitoring and control of these technologies, I wonder if the obligation of monitoring and stricter controls is the solution to this problem. Whose rights would be protected and whose would be violated if this solution is executed? If the authorities regulate such technologies, we might protect the right of our youngsters but violate the rights of involved companies and organisations of the technology. Controlling technologies might even infringe the privacy of youngsters. If certain authorities or organisations (such as school boards) interfere with these technologies and restrict youngsters’ access to them, parents would be furious and claim that the authorities violate their children’s freedom of speech. I’m not saying that this problem cannot be resolved at all nor this issue can be fully resolved. In fact, parents play an important role on preventing and protecting their child. In my opinion, this problem might be reduced if the following are taken into action by parents:

  1. Parents must first and foremost be the first teachers of their child and educate them about what is right and what is wrong, and promote awareness in cyber-bullying to their child.
  2. Parents should take this matter seriously but never become overacting. Usually parents tend to overact when they know their child is involved in cyber-bullying. That is why children usually avoid telling their parents about it. Thus, parents must always be supportive to their child while monitoring their actions. They must remember that children are very vulnerable to cyber-attacks even though those attacks are verbal. The mental and emotional pain could affect their child very badly and it could be lasting. It is important for parents to be friends with their child to encourage the child to be open with their parents about anything.
  3. Parents should let the school counsellor informed about this problem so that he/she could keep an eye on their child.
  4. If private contact information was intentionally or unintentionally disclosed to the Internet, this matter must be brought to the police immediately for proper investigation. Printed proof regarding attacks are very helpful.
Besides parents, children need to be addressed of this issue by the school or perhaps the community. Having a cyber-bully awareness campaign is a good idea of getting children together and this is important to help them understand that bullying really hurts them and other people. We must make them understand the term “don't treat others the way you don't want to be treated”, which is also a way of telling them “treat others the way you want to be treated”. Children should also grasp the fact that keeping private information is important. They need to be educated that it is not okay to hurt others and don’t be silent if they know that their friends are suffering because of cyber-bullies, even that they are afraid. Once they heard of any sign of cyber-attacks, they should report it to their superiors (e.g: their parents, teachers, siblings, etc…).

Empowering ethical attitude in everybody is the fundamental step towards a better community in this digital era.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 06, 2009 and is filed under , , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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