Bullying is fast becoming rampant, especially in the virtual world of technology where keyboard warriors thrive. Social networking sites and social media are breeding grounds for bullies to leech on their preys.
Last year, a Touch Cyber Wellness survey of 1,900 primary school students and 3,000 secondary school pupils revealed that 1 in 3 of the latter population had been bullied online, while 1 in 4 surveyed admitted to having bullied their peers in the online sphere through social networks. The trend is also apparent amongst younger pupils, as 1 in 5 primary school students have also been taunted on such online social platforms. A 2012 study by Microsoft showed that Singapore had the second highest rate of cyberbullying globally. Online bullying in Singapore was also more prominent than bullying in the real world.
Cyberbullies would typically post hurtful remarks and embarrassing images concerning their victims, to torment and intimidate them. What makes cyberbullying potentially more dangerous than regular offline bullying is the incessant taunting, with the possibility of it resurfacing online where the audience reach is greater.
Bullying could also result in self-injurious behaviour, and suicidal thoughts and attempts, as victims may suffer from emotional trauma and depression. As reported by The New Paper on Sunday, 10 Aug 2014, 13-year-old Winnie (not her real name) had a nasty encounter with e-bullying when her friends resorted to harassing her on Facebook and Whatsapp. The name-calling and cyberbullying affected Winnie to the core. She eventually began to self-mutilate and entertain thoughts of suicide. However, with prompt psychiatric and professional help, along with support from her parents, Winnie has since recovered and is now well. The incident serves as a reminder that bullying often leads to detrimental effects and should not be taken lightly.
Fortunately, the new harassment law passed in Parliament earlier this year could possibly deter cyberbullies while protecting and empowering victims. Victims of online bullying can request for malicious content to be removed and also sue for civil damages.
SingTel and Touch Cyber Wellness recently launched the mobile app, notAnoobie, as a resource to aid parents to protect their young ones from online threats such as bullying. The app features real life accounts of online bullying and informative content for parents to keep abreast of cyber issues. The cyber-wellness app is Singapore’s first and can be downloaded for free on both Apple iTunes and Google Play.
Even with such strategies in place to combat cyberbullying, one should always exercise caution and act with discretion.
Here are some tips to protect yourself or a loved one from the ill effects of cyberbullying.
1. Do not react or respond to the taunts from your bullies. Denying them the attention they crave may result in their throwing in the towel. They may stop bullying you if they see that their antics are futile or no longer effective.
2. Removing them from your life is possible. Simply delete them. By blocking your perpetrators from contacting you, you are also reducing the opportunities for them to bully you online.
3. Report the bullying to the relevant authorities such as the school or police. Do not suffer in silence. Let someone you trust know about the bullying and seek appropriate help.
If you are a bully, and think that you may be facing personal difficulties or self-esteem issues, seek help. Recognise that you are hurting on the inside, but refrain from hurting others on the outside.
Bullying can happen to anyone, male or female, student or working professional, young or old. If you require help to address a situation with regards to bullying, or depression and other related mental health concerns, get in touch with the following organisations:
Coalition Against Bullying for Children and Youth (CABCY)
10 Anson Road, International Plaza,
#27-04, Singapore 079903
Tel: +65 6223 3122
Fax: +65 6223 4118
TOUCH Cyber Wellness
Blk 162, Bukit Merah Central
#05-3555, Singapore 150162
Tel: +65 6273 5568
Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)
*SCAPE, 2 Orchard Link
#05-05 Singapore 237978
Telephone: +65 6493 6500, +65 6493 6501
12nn to 9pm, Tues to Sun (closed on public holidays)
Institute of Mental Health (IMH)
Buangkok Green Medical Park
10 Buangkok View
Tel: +65 6389 2000 (24-hour hotline)
Mental Health Helpline (for crises)
Tel: +65 6389 2222
Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)
Block 10 Cantonment Close
#01-01 (HDB Multi-storey carpark)
Tel : 1800-221-4444 (24-hour hotline for suicide prevention)