Cyberbullying oppression and how to avert it.

Cyberbullying oppression and how to avert it

As we celebrate our youth this Youth Day we need to acknowledge the challenges they face. The actions of the uprising in Soweto was a fight against oppression and injustice. Still today, our youth face oppression and injustices in many forms. Cyberbullying is an example, where more and more of our youth retreat into silence because of online intimidation.

Bullying – an act of oppression

According to the National Centre Against Bullying, bullying can be defined as the ‘ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm’. We can liken the acts of the apartheid government through The Bantu Education Act (enacted in 1953) to the act of bullying. Its oppression of the youth was a clear misuse of power that threatened to take away their voice. The youth however reclaimed their power and stood up to their oppressors.

The intimidation from Cyberbullying  is much less overt than those actions of the apartheid government but still harmful and oppressive. Modern bullying can also lead to youth feeling powerless and can even result in  the loss of life. Cyberbullying diminishes the voice and power of our youth.

Oppression and social influence of Cyberbullying

When a fellow student, friend or even a complete stranger bullies someone online, the intent is usually to shame that person for their looks, actions and/or beliefs. Whether there is truth in what they are saying does not matter. Cyberbullying can warp the social morals and personal values of youth. If what they believe is mocked and insulted online they will be less likely to speak up for themselves. Others who see this bullying, with similar beliefs, may also repress their voice to avoid the attention of the bully.

Bullying dehumanises others, and often takes away their power, even if that is not the intention of the bully. Social and psychological harm caused by bullying stops the youth from speaking out and claiming their power.

Reclaiming power through knowledge

By teaching kids to identify, seek help and challenge Cyberbullying we can protect them from it. Cyberbullying doesn’t take place out in the open and is not always present to parents or teachers. That is why it is so important to teach our children to be able to identify this behaviour so that they can report the behaviour and respond to it appropriately. Children can also be unaware of their own bullying behaviour. By learning about what bullying is, they are also able to curb their own behaviour. It can take a peer telling someone that their behaviour is inappropriate in order to have them recognise their own improper actions.

Resources from organisations like Childline South Africa and the South African Police Service can help to inform us of the dangers and warning signs of Cyberbullying.

Even though time and technology changes, our youth will always face a number of challenges. It is our duty to make sure we are informed about their struggles and to equip them with the necessary tools, knowledge and support to be able to deal with these problems. Let us fight for a free and safe future for our youth. For legal assistance on matters of cyberbullying, contact us.