Cyberbullying relates to the use of technology

Two years ago a female student from a prominent high school in the Western Division allegedly committed suicide after her teacher had exposed personal texts from her phone to the class. When the incident occurred, more discussions was centered on the use of mobile phones in schools and less on the issue of bullying itself.

Cyberbullying relates to the use of technology to force, threat, coerce, abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. Most times the behaviour is habitual. Through social media sites, bullying has entered a new platform.

Social media sites have become common platforms for bullies who prey on individuals, taunting, intimidating and forcing some to commit suicide.

Lifeline Fiji, a local call centre set up to help prevent or reduce suicide recorded about 7000 calls in 2017. The late director Archana Mani in The Fiji Times article titled Suicide cases ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ stated one of the common issues that led callers to attempt to commit suicide was cyberbullying.

The Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre received seven cyberbullying cases last year. Five of the cases were of husbands or former boyfriends who threatened or actually posted up intimate images of their partners. As a result victims were suicidal, suffered from anxiety attacks and while others lived in fear.

Late last year the Citizens’ Constitutional Forum CEO Bulutani Mataitawakilai in an article titled Rise in cyberbullying urged individuals to exercise responsibility on social media platforms.

He said any form of bullying, be it cyber or traditional is a violation of human rights, in particular the right to live in a safe, respected and secure environment that is free from violence.

He further relayed that cyberbullying degrades an individual by psychologically paralysing his or her spirit.

Police have continued to warn against cyberbullying urging parents to supervise their children.

Social media account holders are urged to be aware of unscrupulous account holders who may use false identification to befriend you.

Communities can take an active role and speak up against it. Research shows victims of cyberbullying become prisoners of their reputations. It is for this reason, people need to be more cautious when dealing with social media.

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