As if the bullying taking place on the school's playgrounds and in the lanes and bylanes of the town weren't enough. The child, after experiencing repeated physical and mental torment at the hands of more aggressive peers and seniors, enters the home which is like haven to them. And then they switch on the internet-connected machine to do some homework, share information and generally chit-chat... and wham! There they are again, the bullies in the new avatar - the cyber-bully.
If you are a parent whose child has had to encounter bullying in school, then know this: 85% of the kids who are victimized at school are also victimized on the internet. Ergo, the bullies do not restrict themselves to the compound wall of the school. They follow the child home too. Usually it is the same bully in both the places. And their presence in the child's life is pervasive to the extent of being on the computer screen and on the mobile display for all twenty-four hours.
Cyber-bullying, despite the malicious pleasure of hitting a physical body and watch it writhe in pain not being available, has twin advantages. One is that there is nobody to rush at the scene, baton in hand, to the rescue of the victim. Cyber policing is still sadly in its infancy. And two, the anonymity of the internet avatar increases the pleasure of perversion manifold. Not only can you stalk and harass the victim any time of the day or night, but you also get to expand the scope and reach of your aggression: the world is truly your oyster.
On the other hand, the kind of psychological distress that the victim has to undergo is equal to, if not worse than, what the doctors at the Gestapo would inflict upon their subjects. The more the frequency, length and severity of the bullying, worse is the impact on one's mental health and social life. There is a sudden drop in the grades of such students. The double whammy of physical bullying at school and cyber-bullying at home boxes the child into a very insecure and fearful state of mind, impacting not only their levels of concentration on studies, but also their confidence in themselves. Kids who internalize the problem and do not inform the adults about it express the problem in the usual ways of truancy, withdrawal from social activities and general complaints about health that draw a blank in diagnostic tests. Left unchecked, deprecated self-esteem, social anxiety, persecution complex and paranoia set in, and the result is one more addition to the statistic of depressed and affective-disorder children.
As parent, counselor, teacher and self-developer, we need to be alert of changes in the behavior of the child, especially the quality of interaction they have in the chat rooms on the internet. Creating nom de plume identity that reveals nothing about oneself, and keeping this identity restricted to one's closest and most trusted peers, and also changing this identity if there is a suspicion of the identity having been compromised, is one very simple but cunning tactic that the children of the innocent age might be introduced to. Even more importantly, bullying is an opportunity to build a personality that is robust enough to handle any and all forms of bullying, whether now or later in life.
[Every individual comes into this world with certain temperamental traits that are an outcome of the genetic material that has gone into forming the zygote. These traits evolve as the individual builds up their experience while interacting with other individuals in their environment. Interpersonal interactions mould the person's concept of their self as well as of the world around them. How has your self-concept evolved after all these years of your existence on this earth? Read up on this article for an insight into how one's self-concept impacts and is in turn impacted by such interactions: "Don't Cry, Shopgirl".]