BULLYING MOVES FROM CLASSROOM INTO CYBERSPACE
Sources : Times News Network
Date of Publishing:07/07/2010
When 14-year-old Shruti (name changed), who’s overweight, read the emails circulated by her classmates, which made fun of the way she looked, she refused to go to school and asked her parents to admit her to another school. It was only after her parents talked to her principal, who identifies the errant students and made them apologise that she agreed to go back to school.
That might have been a minor case of cyberbullying, but cyberspace is increasingly being used by schoolchildren to vent their anger and frustration, to bully vulnerable students, and also—by the bullied. 'Bullying is no longer limited to the classroom. It has entered cyberspace, which is unmonitored and which gives children a false sense of empowerment. Children are forming groups on social networking sites and sharing group mails to make fun of people they don’t like,' said Dr Jitender Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist, VIMHANS.
The students who are bullied are also using social networking sites to take revenge. In trying to let out their anger, experts said kids have become more aggressive. 'Because they cannot say what they would like to in real time, they use cyberspace to express their feelings. What we end up seeing is a paradoxical personality—a kid who suffers from low self-esteem but is a different person altogether in front of his computer,' said Dr Nagpal.
With the internet becoming an integral part of our education system, the lack of guidance about correct usage is resulting in its misuse. Experts said that along with computer education, children should be taught the ethical use of computers. 'Children are always curious about new things. There is lots of software available free on the net, using which one can hack into another computer or e-mail. It's important to tell them about the technology and its ethical use as well,' said Gautam Sarkar, who teaches computers at Modern School.
While some schools hold parents responsible for not monitoring their children’s computer usage during after-school hours, many schools have begun addressing the issue. 'It’s high time we accept cyberbullying and other misuse of the internet by children and take action. We have to teach children to differentiate between right and wrong while using technology. We should make them aware of cyber law. Students have to be told their mischief can be traced back to them,' said LV Sehgal, principal, Bal Bharti School.
Agrees Ameeta Wattal, principal, Springdales, Pusa Road, 'It’s important to counsel them. We can’t impose our thoughts on them, but we can tell them.'
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