Today, it is important to understand that technological trend is developing at an alarming rate. Enormous amounts of information are added to social media sites each day. Cyberbullying mainly represents an expansion and modification of traditional bullying into the electronic realm (Kowalski et al, 2010). It is referred to as an intentional aggressive act that is performed by an individual or a group of people using various electronic forms of communication, repeatedly and over a given span of time against an innocent victim (Hinduja et al, 2009). As individuals seek to explore social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Hi5, inappropriate behavior such as cyberbullying always crop. The practice of cyberbullying normally occurs through the utilization of “real-time” mechanisms such as chartroom communication, instant messaging, forwarding electronic images, and texting. Cyberbullying assaults may take place in any place and at any time as long as the target posses the necessary electronic gadget. The insults sent may concurrently reach multiple individuals. These acts of bullying result in unknown torture and fear to the intended target (Bastiaensens et al, 2014; Ng, 2012).
In the year 2006, a 13-year-old young girl called Megan Meier committed suicide. The incident gained international coverage with close sources indicating that the young girl had Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and depression. The sources reveal that the young girl was having a cyber relationship with an imposer “Josh”, the man she met through MySpace profile. To a strange revelation of this event, actually, this was her neighbor Lori Drew who had used a fake MySpace profile to intimidate her. After six weeks the fake relationship went sour and the imposer wrote on Meir profile that “the world would be a better place without you”. This made the young immature girl lose hope and commit suicide. The Missouri state legislature typically responded to the case by developing a cyberbullying offense to the imposer by demanding a maximum of 90 days in jail or a fine not less than $500 with surety of the same (Luxton et al, 2012).
According to the empirical survey, the rates of cyberbullying among males and females are normally equal, with insults and negative name-calling occupying the most frequent methods of cyberbullying. Documentary reports reveal that about 88% of cyberbullying incidences occur annually and out of this only 9.55% are reported to the relevant authorities (Cloud, 2010). The rest of the students decide to manage the experience of cyberbullying individually. This occurs mainly among adolescents’ individuals who feel that they may be restricted by their parents on the use of electronic devices upon reporting cyberbullying. In the reported cases, parents’ intervention is normally insufficient due to the technological age gap. Since most parents often fail to intervene, schools and churches are often requested to intervene by teaching appropriate and clear guidelines on the best mechanism on how to use electronic communication (Kopko, 2006).
The anonymous nature of online communication proves it as a suitable medium to elevate cyberbullying. Most of these technologies are untraceable thus limiting the identification of these offenders. The practice normally empowers the offender and poses detrimental effects on the targeted victims (Prados et al 2007). A young person who undergoes cyberbullying normally faces emotional and social challenges. Most of them usually opt to absent themselves from school, abuse alcohol, and carry weapons as a defense mechanism against the offenders (MacEachern et al, 2010). The use and popularity of social media networks also provide some vital and positive impacts on the lives of users. Social media offers numerous tools and resources that are vital in academics. The use of media technology forms of communication further improves the learners’ technical, communication, and interpersonal skills. Online communication assists in personal identification an integral part of adolescent development. Furthermore, online communication provides enormous opportunities for open expression and to develop socially (Strom et al, 2012).
During this period of exploration, cliques such as bullying, sexual experimentation, sexual experimentation, and other forms of assault occur. Traditional bullying is distinct from online bullying since the speed and breadth of disseminating information online is normally very fast (Pettalia et al, 2013). A survey study indicates that a single threat that is made online may have detrimental effects on many people as compared to the one made offline (Hinduja, et al, 2009). To the majority, online insults are considered real and violent. Dr. Faye Mishna in his study discusses the current metamorphosis of social forums that have perceived conventional bullying. The newly formed social forums have created new bully mechanisms by allowing the offenders to create a fake identity and remain anonymous. Furthermore, the bullies are often protected to view the consequences of their actions thus unable to develop a conclusive sense of empathy. This perpetuates the bullying process among not only the youths but all individuals who are fond of using social media (Bastiaensens, 2014).
Conclusion and Recommendations
The issue of individual rights of expression is highly regarded and protected in many states of the world. In countries such as Canada, their chatter guarantees freedom of opinion, belief, and expression. In some sections, freedom is normally limited. In the United States of America, their chatter has been amended to protect citizens from speech and press. In the education sector, chatter has established a prompt policy to protect the learners and minimize the cases of infringements that may occur in school contexts (Taylor, 2008; Ahlfors, 2010). This should be done by including of best ways of using social media education in the school curriculum. This will explain to the learners the dangers of misusing electronic devices to intimidate others and students who may found on the wrong side of the law should be punished disciplined. Parents also should be educated to help them distinguish the social media that is natural or positive from the one that is dangerous and abuses their children (McQuade, 2009).
It is relatively difficult to determine the level of effectiveness of the proposed measures to curb cyberbullying. In the United States of America, the federal government does impose any legal responsibility to the Internet Service Providers for any form of deformity that may be created by the third parties. In the year 1996, the legislature attempted to limit the possibility of online indecent speech however the act was aborted by the U.S. Supreme Court (Strom, 2012). Therefore this legislation does not provide a strong role in limiting the cases of cyberbullying in the country. Therefore, it is important for every state to carefully draft legislation that focuses on cyberbullying and provides respect to individual rights.
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