A cyberbully is a person or group of persons that use the Internet and linked technologies with the intention of harassing and harming others. The bully might be known to the victim or they might just be taking advantage of their anonymity. The manner in which the individual executes the ill intentions is deliberate, hostile and repeated. It is more of a hobby.
Cyberbullying has been on the rise, which has warranted legislation to curb it. Based on statistics from the Anti-Bullying Alliance – ABA, 22 per cent of kids aged between 11 and 16 years have gone through the traumatizing experience of bullying. Another report by the MSN in 2006 found that 11 per cent of the teens in the UK have been victims of bullying, mainly through computer related devices.
Mobile technologies and internet services, including web pages, have been noted as the most used forums for harming others. All the cases involving this heinous act have common characteristics. First and foremost, the intention is to humiliate and intimidate the victim. The victim is also targeted so as to be put down by embarrassment.
Young people are often the victims and propagators of cyberbullying. There are two main methods used in carrying out the attacks on the victims. These are direct attacks and the use of a proxy. In direct attacks, messages are sent to the kid directly. Using others to help one intimidate the weak is dangerous as adults might also be caught up in this dirty chain. Of the two, the most common is the direct attack approach.
Below are the methods of direct attack of a Cyberbully and how a Cyberbully works.
Cyberbully Attack: Impersonation
The attacker poses as the victim. Everything done therefore appears to have been carried out by the targeted person who is a real sense knows nothing about it. A lot of damage can be done so as to tarnish the image of the victim. A good example is where a provocative message is posted negatively criticizing or threatening a given person. This would give chance for countless taunting comments to be posted against the victim. The situation gets even more complicated when a real message from the victim is altered. Nasty and dirty information is added to it and then posted on social media.
Cyberbully Attack: Interactive Gaming
Online games have been rated as one of the top sites for cyberbullying. Play Stations and other devices like X-Box Live are most kids’ favourite games. These games are devised in such a way that the players are able to interact live with others. Chances are that your kid does not know who he is communicating with. One is therefore vulnerable to the threats posed by other players. This might include the use of vulgar language and dirty false rumours meant to offend the victim so that they lose morale in the game.
Cyberbully Attack: Instant Messaging
This is another interesting scenario that has really led to the distortion of the true purpose of the internet. Once a kid identifies a potential target, hateful messages are sent in quick succession to the extent of causing alarm to the recipient. The sender might either be unaware that the unkind messages are prohibited or might just be ignoring the rules. Another form of harassment is the use of the warning button. The button is meant to be a security measure against those internet users fond of saying inappropriate things. This tool which is provided by the ISPs is instead used as an attack tool thus putting the victim offline for some time. There are even cases of kids sending death threats to other kids by the use of IM and videos. It’s also possible to find a group of kids ganging up against another.
Cyberbully Attack: Stealing Passwords
A cyberbully may steal someone’s password and begin chatting in the victim’s capacity. The unauthorized person uses the password to set the kid against the friends by saying annoying and insulting stuff. Worse still, with the password, one can change the owner’s profile to include material like porn and racist substances that portray a negative image of the victim.
Cyberbully Attack: Websites
This has replaced the old playground teasing. Some websites are created to perpetrate ill intentions against others. Some even go as far as posting pictures of their victims so that they are embarrassed to the maximum. The personal information of the victim is made public so that one can receive as many disturbing messages as possible. The result of this is mental and emotional torture to the victim which can take a long time to get over.
Cyberbully Attack: Blogging
Blogs are meant to be fun. However, many kids are taking advantage and posting blogs that degrade others. Online journals have been sources of damaged reputations for young kids. The blogging content might include relationship stories of specific teens with plenty of exaggerations.
The rampant increase of this kind of incidence saw the introduction of cyber crime units in many law enforcement agencies. Such crimes are treated as grave offences that might lead to a heavy penalty. The National Crime Prevention Council has established methods to counter the vice. If your child has been the victim of a cyberbully, do not hesitate to report to the authorities for action.