CYBER BULLYING AND MENTAL HEALTH
UNICEF defines Cyberbullying as bullying with the use of technology. It is a repeated behavior aiming at scaring, angering, or shaming the target and can occur on social media, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, and mobile phones as well. Cyberbullying cases are increasing at an alarming rate all over the world especially because almost everything is virtual now. A recent report by Child Rights and You (CRY) revealed that among the 630 adolescent samples taken from Delhi NCR, 9.2% faced cyberbullying and only half of them reported it to an adult. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) revealed that cyberbullying cases increased by 36% from 2017 to 2018. The main reasons behind Cyberbullying are that the person can do the act of violence by being anonymous and also because people often become more vulnerable when they are being harassed on an online platform. They find it hard to report as there is a risk of self-shame and uncertainty. In numerous cases, victims are also blackmailed for wrong purposes. This abuse of power can lead to an adverse effect on one’s mental health and also leave a mark for a lifetime.
The recent case of Manoj Patil is an example of the toxicity and adverse impact of cyberbullying. The renowned bodybuilder who also won the Mr. India title for best sports physique (hosted by the Indian Body Builders Federation) in 2016 attempted suicide. He was in Oshiwara at that time and was mentally harassed due to cyberbullying and Sahil Khan. It was such a distressed state that he finally consumed pills and made the attempt but thankfully was saved, rushed to Cooper Hospital in an unconscious state. Reports say that he has been hospitalized for 4 days now and is recovering, gaining his consciousness. Sahil Khan, the Style movie Actor hosted a press conference and denied all the allegations. He rather put all the blame on upcoming bodybuilding athlete, Raj Faujdar. Khan added that Patil had sold Faujdar expired drugs and in order to help him Khan uploaded a video exposing the matter and asking Patil to pay the outstanding amount of 2 Lakhs. Faujdar supported Sahil in the claim and said that he just wants his 2 lakhs back. Investigation on the matter is still going on so it is hard to say what the truth is. Though the facts say that because Khan had said it out loud on social media, it took a toll on Patil’s reputation and mental health, making it a cyberbullying case, regardless of the cause.
The question that comes here is that how to keep our identity safe and what to do in case we or someone we know of faces cyberbullying. Ways to protect oneself from online attacks include keeping your social media accounts private and adding only knowns to your friend list; turning your videos off before leaving or joining the meetings so that they cannot be accessed; blocking people that make you feel uncomfortable; not checking in at online places immediately or at the time you are there at the place and finally being careful of what, where and with whom you are sharing something online especially your personal information.
In case you are a victim of cyberbullying, you can report the case on the portal: https://cybercrime.gov.in/Accept.aspx
Sections 67, 67A, and 67B of the IT act prescribe punishment for publishing or transmitting inappropriate material on the internet and Section 419 of IPC prescribes punishment for cheating by impersonation. One can read up more on these acts to file an FIR and demand justice.
Surf Safe, Stay Safe!