Seven ways by which cyber bullying affects kids

Priya, a student of first year BCom at a reputed institute in the heart of Calcutta, was found dead in a pool of blood! Her parents broke into her room when their domestic help waited for more than two hours in front of her room.
She had slit her wrist, for the second time and this time she was successful in her endeavor! After a brief discussion with her parents, (who were quite busy individuals-her mother was a business woman and her father, an investment banker) it was found that Priya had become quite withdrawn from normal day-to-day activities; she had developed anorexia.  Her parents had consulted their family physician and she was under medication. She had been undergoing counseling sessions regularly.
Now all this sounds quite strange and out of the blue for a college goer. One may ask what made her take such an extreme step. Yes, it’s a known villain, “cyber bullying”. It is very common and in most cases it is severe because it is covert in nature.
After the preliminary investigation it was found that Priya was a victim of cyber bullying. One may not understand how adverse can be the effects of cyber bullying. It has the potential to involve public humiliation or embarrassment across a wide viral audience. Prolonged periods of being scared, helpless, ashamed can have a long-lasting consequences on children resulting in poor social and occupational roles and greater likelihood of repeated suicidal attempts.
The effects of cyber bullying may not be noticeable at first but the stress levels keep rising each day and each instance of humiliation, taunting at school or with friends worsens the situation. It weakens the will power of the child to such an extent that they eventually succumb to the pressure.
We can categorise the effects of cyber bullying into 7 groups-

  1. Increased feelings of sadness and loneliness

 

  1. Changes in sleep and eating pattern: There are changes in sleep and eating pattern. They either suffer from Bulimia (overeating) or they are Anorexic, wherein the child doesn’t eat at all. It was reported that Priya had lost nearly 10 kgs in two weeks and was also suffering from Insomnia.

 

  1. There is a loss of interest in all activities: They withdraw themselves into a shell. Priya had severed all contacts with her class mates and her closest friend Mitra, who too was in a state of shock at Priya’s untimely demise. When the cyber cell team approached her for interrogation, she could hardly utter a word; her eyes welled up with tears at the mention of Priya. They were friends since class II.

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  1. Low self-esteem: Youths who are bullied suffer from tremendous low esteem. They constantly fight within and at school or college. So to avoid this, they become truants. For instance, Rimi, an 18 year old student of a convent school near Ekbalpore in Calcutta went missing on the last day of her final examination. When the cops contacted her mother, she confirmed that she used to drop her daughter to school everyday in the morning and religiously come back in the afternoon to pick her up. But once the investigations were on, it was found that once Rimi’s mother left the school premises, she would regularly skip her classes and go out with friends, whom she had met outside her school. Rimi’s classmates had recorded that they had even caught her smoking “weed” in the school restroom. She would often feign illness and take half a day off. The case went on for a long time until one day; the cops came up with a shocking news that Rimi had been found battling for her life in one of the government hospitals in Eastern India. She had been molested by a group of people repeatedly and later thrown on the streets. She had been scarred for life, that is, if she survived. But finally she didn’t!
  2. Drug and alcohol usage: Cyber bullying can also lead children to use drugs or alcohol.
  3. Aggression and violent behaviour: Children who are involved in bullying or harassing others are also affected in many ways, some of which can be really intimidating for the parents or school authorities.
    Such children who bully others are often aggressive in nature, to such am extent that they can harm anyone. A recent case was reported from Pune, where a 15 year old boy tried to stab his 47 year old mother when she cut down his internet and mobile phone usage. Luckily, his 50 year old father was at home who helped his mother escape the sudden attack. The boy is now under treatment at a rehabilitation centre in Mumbai.
  4. Other significant changes: The bullies also start using drugs or alcohol at a young age and surprisingly their sexual activities also begin early, not with one but multiple partners!
    These kids if not checked upon by parents or elders turn into very aggressive adults wherein they involve in vandalism or cause a lot of hurt to their partners or family members.

Thus it is important for parents and school authorities to prevent cyber bullying from it’s onset before it becomes worse. The school and it’s teachers should take the responsibility to make children

aware of the pros and cons of online activities. Parents can only talk to their kids about the uses and abuses of technology when they are equipped with it’s uses. Hence it is mandatory for parents to keep themselves abreast with the advancing technology to prevent their children from getting entangled in the clutches of one of the most deadly crimes, cyber bullying

Written by Joyadrita Ragavendran

Joyadrita Ragavendran

Joyadrita has completed her Masters in English Literature from Calcutta University. After her 6 year long stint in the corporate world she chose to become a full time mom to her lovely daughter, Anshika Raghavendran.

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