Bullying has always been a concern for kids and for anyone who has an interest in the lives of vulnerable individuals. While this is not a new problem solely affecting today’s youth culture, the problem is occurring in an entirely new arena: the new technology world of cyberspace and with that comes the fear of cyber safety issues related to websites such as Ask.fm.

This new threat raises cyber safety issues as well as physical safety for persons who are victims of bullying. Bullied individuals are generally children who are vulnerable to the larger world and are unable to comprehend the danger their seemingly innocent acts are putting them in by communicating with “nice” strangers. Learn about the Cyber Safety Issues Related to Ask.fm!

Bullying has moved from telephones, shopping malls, bus stops and school lunchrooms to the vast unmonitored arena of cyberspace. While the victim innocently enters into some form of communication with the perpetrator, this communication then enables that perpetrator to harm, affect or otherwise interact with the innocent unsuspecting victim. Due to the increasing occurrence of bullying online through social sites and other commercial websites, bullying actions now include virtual menacing or threatening contact as much as physical harm or injury traditionally was in the past. This virtual bullying has gone on to involve the threat or actuality of physical harm to the victims in recent bullying cases.

Understanding Cyber Safety Issues

The social site known as Ask.fm has been implicated in recent events due to the fact that the contact involving the bullying took place on that site with the parties interacting on the site. There have been occasions of reported bullying arising out of the site reported by the Guardian Newspaper including one which resulted in the suicide of the bullying victim and another in England at the beginning of September 2013 involving suspected Ask.fm interaction between the daughter of a NATO officer and the perpetrator. After the girl disappeared and a plea was issued for her safe return, the girl was later found unharmed and her case remains under investigation, with the involvement of Ask.fm figuring prominently in the inquiry.

Cyber Safety Issues

One unfortunate feature of Ask.fm is the ability of users of the site to “hack” the site to ascertain the identities of anonymous users of the site to continue the “conversation.” There are actually items in the Google Search listing for acquiring this capability. This can be done regardless of whether or not the anonymous individual wishes to remain anonymous. Because this practice has been involved in bullying incidents, cyber security has been increased to combat this practice. As a result of this being an easy segue into bullying and so hard to detect, not all of it may have been stopped yet. At one point in the hacking practice’s history, there was even an Android app to help get around the anonymity.

There has been an emphatic response to incidences of bullying initiated online through sites such as Ask.fm. As these events have become known to the public at large, an outcry has gone out requesting help in locating the affected victims, identifying any perpetrators and making the cyber safety situation widely known among those persons who could easily be affected by the situation. Ask.fm itself is tightening up its security requirements and is distancing itself from any notions that it may be behind any of the problems.

Despite a proactive response to the problem, additional safeguards are needed to prevent potential bullying victims from being drawn into the vicious cycle of bullying. There must be a demand that all online sites enact protections wherever possible to safeguard vulnerable users against bullying.

Future action is needed to ensure that the parents or guardians of potential bullying victims remain educated about the dangers to their youth and how to prevent the opportunity for bullying to even become a factor in the lives of the vulnerable, whenever possible. Education must be made available through schools and activities where youth are present to give those in a position to protect vulnerable individuals from easily accessible but potentially dangerous outlets where bullying opportunities can occur.

Bullying is no longer limited to big kids pushing little kids around at a bus stop or school lunchroom. It is no longer confined to hateful anonymous phone calls which strike terror in a youngster. It has now escalated to the level of online research about an anonymous friend from a recent chat. The saddest thing is that the research is being conducted in many cases to cause harm to innocent individuals. Nothing as broad as a legislative act can cure this problem without abridging the freedom of speech of others who go online merely to make friends and chat. This problem must be fought at the level of the family unit, with parents/guardians emphasizing the known risks and enforcing safe online use policies with their vulnerable young charges.

What is Cyber Safety Definition and how do reach a complete cyber safety definition?

A near complete cyber safety definition is:

  • Responsible for sharing information on the Internet at all times no matter what.
  • People should be respectful of one another while online under all circumstances.
  • Everyone should be using good “netiquette” while on the Internet: no foul language, no cyberbullying, no stalking, and no spamming.

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