Fights, squabbles and school rivalries take a nasty turn online
If u think they r hot...
Well, let me tell u they're not
They're ugly, they're fat, they look like ratz!!!!
Even alienz look better dan dat!!!!!
This was an email sent out by the 10th standard class students of a respected Mumbai [ Images ] school, about the students of a rival school.
What seems like a childish, and somewhat nasty poem, is in fact part of a growing trend called cyber bullying that is seeping hatred, lies and malicious gossip into email boxes and SMS-enabled mobile phones.
Technically defined, cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies such as e-mail, cell phones and pager text messages, instant messaging, the publishing of defamatory personal sites and online personal polling that are used to support conscious, willful, deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour by one or more people, that is intended to harm others.
The problem came to a head in Los Angeles, USA, in April this year when parents rallied to stop a California-based site schoolscandals.com, that hosted message boards for high school students, featuring messages calling a student from Beverly Hills High School a "retard" who "deserves to go to hell," while a posting in the Frost Middle School chat room describes a student as a "homosexual with a pigeon-like face and a penguin-like body."
In Canada [ Images ], David Knight felt so trapped and traumatised after seeing an abusive site that made fun of him and accused him of being a pedophile, gay and using the date rape drug on little boys, that he was compelled to leave school and finish his final year at home.
In India [ Images ], where younger and younger kids are discovering the power of the Internet, cyber bullying has already started trapping Indian teenagers in its insidious Web.
According to Ritika Mehta, a 9th standard student who received the above-mentioned poem in her mailbox, "I think these people are cowards. It was a pathetic attempt at making fun of us though at a poem. It was shown to a teacher and she talked to them. But I think it was a case of sour grapes because these boys want to go out with a few girls from our school, but can't."
"I think all bullying is cowardly, but cyber bullying is even more so since you don't know who sent you email," says Malavika Seth. "Cyber bullying is usually some stupid joke or some person looking for something to do."
"If someone sends you a mail, they have to tell you who they are and why they're sending you this mail," says Gautam Kapur. "If I got abusive emails, I'd think they were more cowardly than bullies -- I'd think they were chicken because they weren't letting me know who they really are."
In the case of the two schools mentioned above, the teachers intervened and the problem was eventually resolved. While this may seem to be more of a playful prank than a serious offence, it is only the beginning of a trend that can escalate into a serious problem.
In the US, UK and Canada, anti-bullying site and support groups have mushroomed to redress this problem. Bullying.ca, Be Safe Online and Bully Online are just some of the hundreds of sites that offer advice, support and resources to counter cyber bullying. Practically all of these are US or UK based, as the concept of cyber bullying is still not widespread in India.
But with cyber bullying catching on in the country, parents and teachers have to be prepared to deal with fights and squabbles that are likely to move from the sand pit to cyberspace.
Tips to prevent cyber bullying
- Make sure you keep all your personal details a secret
- If someone is upsetting you online don't talk to them
- If you are getting bullied make sure you tell an adult
Don't open a message from someone you don't know
Don't reply to messages from cyber bullies