Cyberbullying: what is it, how to protect a child

Cyberbullying (cyberbullying, cyberstalking) is Internet harassment or cyberstalking using the Internet and electronic means of communication, such as a mobile phone.

 What is cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is designed to harm a person or group of people using new communication and information technologies. It is believed that only middle and high school students are subject to violence, but recently, adults also suffer.

The development of technology and almost continuous access to the Internet leads to a violation of the proportions between real and virtual life, between relationships built in reality and those that are realized mainly in cyberspace.

The speed of development of these changes makes it much more difficult to develop adequate strategies in the Internet space that would protect people from cybercriminals.

The process of our adaptation to the IT revolution, especially in an emotional, social or interpersonal aspect, is still ongoing and requires our increased attention.

To better understand what the Internet is – a threat to the individual, imagine information about violence as such. In the real world, we most often encounter physical or sexual abuse.

Knowing about the physical threat, a person applies strategies that protect to some extent from an attack, also a person knows the basic level of legal norms and can identify a cybercriminal. In the case of cyberbullying, the situation changes dramatically.

The manifestation of caution turns into an illusion, since the offender and the victim do not have physical contact, it is almost impossible to prevent the threat in this case.

Cyberbullying brings with it the same terrible consequences as violence from the real world – unfair information or a compromising picture spreads at a very high speed. It also means that the victim is at constant risk of subsequent attacks.

Completely deleting annoying content on your phone or email is often difficult and sometimes impossible. The ease with which new aggressors can join in deceiving the victim not only helps perpetrators share responsibility, thereby reducing it, but also contributes to the escalation of violent behavior.

The relatively low social control over this phenomenon, especially when children and young people are its victims, further increases the already uneven distribution of power between the victim and the cybercriminal.

Parents and guardians of children often do not know what is happening in the virtual space of young people, which actually delays all attempts to protect the child and punish the perpetrator.

Types of cyber threats

Malicious comments, harassment, spam, posting content, sometimes function under the conditions of an innocent joke, but these are only some of the activities that can be called a manifestation of cyberstalking.

The result of Internet bullying has negative and even dangerous consequences in real life. The victim feels humiliated and offended, and if the spread of unwanted information continues, there is a panic, a desire to hide or escape from the real world.

Messages with threats and insults are especially unpleasant for a sensitive teenager.

Forms of cyberbullying:

  • recording video against the will of a person
  • posting someone else’s photos and videos
  • harassment, ridicule and humiliation through the Internet or mobile phone
  • statements of hatred towards a specific person or group of people
  • sending false information that is supposed to compromise or confuse the victim
  • intimidation, blackmail and threats
  • hacked email account, social profile, etc.
  • Internet identity theft, impersonation of another
  • writing offensive comments on social sites, forums, blogs, etc.
  • creating offensive content on the Internet.

Cyberbullying criminals – the reasons for their actions

It happens that a criminal deliberately harms a person for the purpose of obtaining benefits and this really brings what he wants. Often, this is the need to “strengthen” in a new company of peers, a young person imitates the behavior of the aggressors by joining their actions.

Sometimes, the fear of becoming a victim motivates a person to play a major role. It is also associated with the desire to manifest one’s power in virtual reality or control someone else’s life.

Active violators believe that their actions are anonymous and with impunity, in their opinion, the publication of someone else’s photo taken in the locker room is not such a terrible joke. From the point of view of psychologists, a person who has committed a relatively mild act of an offense is likely to repeat it again.

The more often the boundaries of what is permitted are crossed, the weaker our internal “brake”. Thus, the use of cyberbullying is increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult for a “newbie” to stop in this business.

How to prevent your child from falling into the society of Internet criminals

Given the motivation of criminals in the case of children and adolescents, it is worth paying attention to developmental norms. Factors such as a limited ability to perceive causality and inadequate development of empathy are directly related to the propensity to violence in any form.

Children find it hard to understand how dangerous their actions in the virtual world can be. Therefore, we must remember the important role of parents and teachers in the fight against online crime.

As a rule, people with low social responsibility and poor financial security become the perpetrators of cyberbullying. They have difficulty communicating in the real world using acceptable methods.

The tendency to use this type of aggression is associated with low self-esteem and a desperate attempt to build one’s own image at the expense of others. Having identified the above-described shortcomings in the development of your child or student, you can correct them with the help of special exercises or contact a psychologist.

A quick reaction from an adult, as well as modeling the correct behavior in the world of new technologies, is the most effective method to prevent the popularity of cyber threats among children.

How to protect yourself and your child 

Preventing cyberbullying is next to impossible, but taking action when you receive multiple threats can help keep more than just you safe. If you or your child is a victim, you can report it to the police.

Save all evidence – emails, text messages, screenshots of web pages, links to pages. Also, do not forget to report the violator to the administration of the site or forum where the attacker lives.

If the victim feels humiliated and personal contact with law enforcement is not ethically possible for the victim, it is possible to seek help anonymously. For example, send a letter or call.

Never remain indifferent even when your friend suffers or you find something similar on the Internet. One complaint is enough for the violator not to receive public approval, and the information does not go further.

Cyberbullying and criminal liability

Although there are no special rules governing this type of crime, its perpetrators can be punished on the basis of separate criminal provisions.

Prohibited actions include harassment (Articles 133 and 367 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), threats (Article 119 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), theft of personal information (Articles 272 and 137 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and violation of honor (Article 152 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation).