We need an anti-cyberbullying legal framework
We need to have a legal framework to combat cyberbullying as this is a growing phenomenon that is hurting our society. A national strategy to address this form of bullying needs to be drawn up.
We already have a solid framework to counter domestic violence but when it comes to different forms of bullying, especially bullying over the internet through Facebook, electronic journals and Whats App, there is no legal enforcement.
Cyberbullying is when a person switches their computer on at home to find that people are gossiping about them. It is very easy for a person who is guilty of cyberbullying to hide behind a keyboard and write what they like, sometimes in a derogatory way.
Cyberbullying is continuous and often the person being bullied finds it very hard to escape the situation. It also creates a dangerous situation as the person being bullied in this way ends up alone and is often unable to share this experience with others. It is also a humiliating experience for the victim as the platform is wide and the person finds themselves exposed to ridicule. In cyberbullying there is no immediate support and it is therefore even more important that a person going through this looks for help so they are not left to experience it alone.
It appears that the problem of cyberbullying in Malta has touched all age groups, from young to adults and is especially prevalent among children who have a Facebook profile. Among adults, cyberbullying is more aggressive in terms of tone and language. It can lead to the loss of reputation, so much so that some have contemplated suicide because they have been exposed to this type of bullying.
Voice of the Workers appeals to parents to check up on their children when they are using the internet. They need to know who they are talking to and what platform they are using. There is a tendency for children not to speak up as they fear being harshly judged and they may end up retreating within themselves and later manifesting psychological problems. This is the result of a society that is becoming individualistic.
We would do well to teach our children to socialise and we can only do this by prising them away from the internet and spending more time with them. Schools hold a number of activities to inform students about cyberbullying, its consequences and the help that can be given to victims of cyberbullying. Guidance teachers are also instrumental in the fight against cyberbullying.
Awareness needs to stepped up because the problem continues to grow. It is important that one looks for help, even in the case of those who are committing the cyberbullying. Not reaching out for help is leading to psychological problems, especially among adults.
Overall, there must be more concrete action taken so that we stop assuming that we can write what we want on social media without any fear of consequence. Such action needs to pass on the message of zero tolerance of cyberbullying.