Children are more prone to cyberbullying: study

According to CSIR researcher Sipho Ngobeni, bullies do not stop intimidating and humiliating others because they do not see the harm associated with it.
According to CSIR researcher Sipho Ngobeni, bullies do not stop intimidating and humiliating others because they do not see the harm associated with it.
Image: 123RF/dolgachov

Children are more prone to cyberbullying than adults, an investigation by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) reveals.

The CSIR defines cyberbullying as the use of electronic communication by one party to: harass, threaten, intimidate, humiliate and stalk the other.

According to the organisation, one in three parents globally has reported that their child was bullied online.

In 2018, 54% of SA parents reported that they knew of a child who was cyberbullied.

“Sometimes cyberbullies pick random people because of something they did online that the bully did not like. Most victims are children, but there are adults also,” said Sipho Ngobeni, a senior researcher at CSIR.

Those who have been victims of bullying may suffer from depression, sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, or fear.

“They may express subtle comments that indicate [they] are disturbed or upset,” Ngobeni said.

Cyberbullying can also lead to delinquency, school violence and suicidal thoughts.

Citing examples of cases of cyberbullying, Ngobeni mentioned the recent incident involving Limpopo pupil Lufuno Mavhunga who committed suicide after she was filmed being bullied and assaulted by another schoolgirl. Other pupils watched on and laughed as Mavhunga was repeatedly slapped outside the premises of the Mbilwi Secondary School.

A high school pupil in Gqeberha also became a victim of bullying last week, when her peer posted a humiliating picture of her. The pupil attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on pills.

According to Ngobeni, bullies do not stop intimidating and humiliating others, because they do not see the harm associated with it.

It is also hard to stop bullying in some cases, because parents are not aware that their children are being bullied.

“Educators don’t know when and how to intervene in online behaviours that occur away from school, but still involve their students,” Ngobeni said.

Social media platforms where cyberbullying takes place include Instagram [where most cases are recorded], followed by Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Twitter being the online space where bullying least happens.

The CSIR advises parents to teach their children about personal security; make sure that if there is a personal computer at home, it stays in the common room where it can be monitored.

“Remind your children that they should never give out their passwords,” Ngobeni said.

TimesLIVE


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