By Abbas Souleymane
Let’s take a break from COVID-19 and reflect on another issue that adversely affects the global community.
Cyberbullying is now a serious social problem that continues to dominate the world’s teenagers. Every 40 seconds, there is one suicidal case, many are related to cyberbullying, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Recently in the United States, Julia Derbyshire, a 16 year-old took her own life due to cyberbullying and a 14-year-old Dolly Everett from Australia also killed herself for the same reason.
Julia’s story with bullying started when she spoke to a friend about her sexuality and the friend went on to tell everybody in school. Since then, Julia went through difficult times. She was abused physically, psychologically and online, and developed mental health problems from the bullying.
She did not afford to take all these barrages of online abuses, however on October 2015 Julia decided to end up online abuse by taking her life.
Moreover, Dolly Everett’s story is not much different with Julia. She was a teenager just 14-year-old who died by suicide after becoming the victim of cyberbullying.
An interview with her parents explained that Dolly, who was previously the face of Akubra advertising campaign for Australian hat company, started to withdraw when a boy at her school convinced her to take inappropriate photo of herself.
According to Prof. Peter Jones of Bond University Australia, bullying had played a huge role in Everett’s death. She had a severe mental illness such as depression and stress that caused her to reach the decision to take her own life.
When people are being bullied online, they go into the stage of stress, depression, low self-esteem, dropping out of school and are more likely to get into alcoholism and drugs.
They might feel lost and they don’t know what to do about it. That’s when they can’t trust anyone and become lonely.
The sad and the worst part of it is when people find them dead. As parents of both Julia and Dolly found their daughters lifeless.
Millions and millions of teenagers around the world suffer from cyberbullying every single day.
These people who intend to hurt others should rethink before they type, rethink before they hit the post and rethink before the damage is done.
It is not acceptable for these anonymous people to degrade us with their jealousy. It is not deniable; the help of social media makes life a living hell for those they feel threatened by, or need to justify their own existence by belittling someone else.
We are losing our children because of this unacceptable behavior. It hurts and it’s awful. Are we going to watch this behaviour continue and do nothing about it? Thus, it is time for us to stand up when we see any kind of bullying behaviour.
Could you imagine the reaction of Julia’s and Dolly Everett’s family when they found their daughter’s lifeless bodies? Could you imagine their tears, could you imagine them screaming, could you imagine their reaction when they took the phone and found bullied messages that caused them to commit suicide?
Could you imagine the phone that they brought to them to communicate with their friends and have a good time lead them to take their own life? Absolutely heartbroken.
These two beautiful teens could be anyone’s daughter, sister, relative, friend. We need to make sure that anyone in crisis knows there is always someone to help them.
There is no doubt the birth of smartphones enables the ease of access for people to update their profile and be more active online. Unfortunately, sometimes this could also prompt the user to be more willing to share any information about themselves that could potentially deem to be private.
Therefore, there should be more awareness and education about online bullying. We should try to make more effort to protect the children as much as possible because what is going on, it’s just unacceptable.
Families, teachers and friends need to be more aware when it comes to someone being bullied. They should stand beside the victims and provide effective solutions to help them to get out of this problem.
For instance, if the teachers notice there is cyberbullying going on, they can take the bullies to the management or to the principal’s office for a talk on the harm they are causing.
The same thing goes for parents, if they know that their child or children are being bullied online, they need to make an immediate report or confiscate their electronic devices.
Cyber bullying has to stop, the effects of it can be drastic and can change the lives of teens in many ways. It is a big problem when this can lead to teenagers killing themselves and to see that the government is beginning to do something to try and stop this proves that something needs to be done.
No doubt, education is an essential part of change. Children need to be shown from early the necessity of kindness to each other.***
(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)
- Cyberbullying must stop - December 23, 2020
- COVID-19 update: 1,810 new cases raise Malaysia’s active cases to 12,734 - December 11, 2020