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12 February 2018

Cyberbullying: The Hidden Enemy

The parents of Ooshmal Ullas are yet to recover from the blow. On 13 November 2017, the 23-year old MBBS student from KMCT College, Kozikhode, jumped from her college building, ending a promising life. The incident shocked her friends and family. What was more shocking was the suspected reason behind her suicide. Investigations revealed that Ooshmal had written a post on her Facebook page revealing how senior boys in her college misbehaved with junior girls. Post it, Ooshmal received death and rape threats and was targeted on various social media platforms. A young and bright doctor, who could have saved lives of others, was forced to take her own.

As parents, we all wish for our children to become successful and leave their imprints in this world. But 14-year-old Manpreet Singh will be remembered as an alleged victim of the deadly Blue Whale game. Last year, on 29 July, the standard IX student jumped from his building snuffing out a bright life.

According to a research carried out by the Punjab University, Indian students are more prone to cyberbullying as compared to their western counterparts. Alarmingly, the majority of these trollers target minors, especially females. Concerned about the growing threat, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) modified its online platform ‘POSCO e-box’ to handle complaints of cyberbullying, morphing of images and child pornography. It is heart-wrenching to know that millions globally suffer in silence and feel that they have no hope against their offenders.

But there is hope! Talking about the abuse with your friends and family is the first step. Yashika (name changed to protect identity) an 18-year old Delhi student was shocked to find her revealing photographs, which she had shared only with her boyfriend, being circulated in college. On confronting her boyfriend, he threatened to post her photographs on social media. Instead of cowering down to him, Yashika confided in her parents, who registered an FIR with the Delhi police. Their prompt action landed the errant boyfriend behind bars.  Similarly, when 17-year old Trisha Prabhu faced cyber bullies, instead of driving herself to despair she channeled her angst and created a successful platform ReThink™ to help teens rethink about their remarks before posting it live. Forums such as Stop Bullying and CyberSmile provide guidance and support to victims.

Ways in which you can deal with cyberbullying:

  • Do not respond: In case you come across someone bullying you online, do not retaliate as sometimes, trollers are just hungry for reactions. Instead, find ways in which you can get out of the situation.  
  • Block: Most social media websites allow you to block unwanted people. Make use of that feature before it’s too late and the situation gets worse.
  • Collect proof: When you are being cyberbullied, screenshots are your best friends. Make sure you save enough proof against the person causing trouble as you might need it soon.
  • Seek help: Don’t hesitate to talk with your family and friends when you are being bullied online. When you discuss it with someone you trust, half the battle is won. If this does not help the situation, seek professional help.
  • Know that it’s not your fault: Always remember that what you are going through is not because of your actions. Don’t ever assume you deserve this or it is fine to just keep quiet and bear it. Stop feeling guilty and speak up.

 

It is time to stand against the perpetrators of cyberbullying to save precious lives. 

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