Bullies target those who are perceived to be weaker online

CYBERBULLIES continue to exist because of the support they get from their peers and bystanders, a criminologist said.

Ignoring them, stopping their access or cutting off their connection were three simple ways to counter them, according to Dr Geshina Ayu Mat Saat.

The criminologist with Universiti Sains Malaysia said avoiding them would be the first line of defence, and to do that, bullies should not be given the opportunity to do so.

“Bullies, including cyberbullies, target those who are perceived to be weaker,” she said, adding that bullies tended to target those who were vulnerable.

“One way to counter this is to not provide, or at least not to present vulnerabilities, which can be manipulated or used by the bully.

“In other words, people should not readily disclose vulnerabilities online or portray themselves as easily manipulated,” she said.

Tackling the problem, however, was not an easy task as although cyberbullies share many common traits and attitudes, there was no single modus operandi and no single method of attack, she said.

Dr Geshina said people resorted to bullying because they think that they could not be stopped.

They think no one would or could stop them and that they could do it without any ill effect on themselves, she said.

“The essence of cyberbullying is about power and control,” she said, adding that they feed on their own feeling of importance, power or superiority.

“Bystanders or peers may prolong the actions of the online bully by either verbally or in writing supporting the bully, or by omission of any action to stop the bully,” she added.

“Unfortunately, some victims continue with the abusive communication and social relationship due to errors in perception and judgement as to what genuine and positive relationships really mean.

“This is because, cyberbullying can be stopped by eliminating access, practise non-reactionary responses, or simply deleting the connection.”

Dr Geshina also said it was important to detect people affected by bullying as it was the first step towards acting against the bullies.

“Not everyone who is bullied asks for help.

“Talking to the victim can help identify the root of the problem,” she said.

She added that among the signs of a person being bullied are self destructive behaviours, loss of self esteem, declining interest in their routines among others.

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