What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying refers to the use of modern technology i.e. computers, mobile phones, Ipad, tablet etc to harass, threaten or embarrass someone in a repeated manner.
What are the different types of cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying in the Sierra Leone online community is done in different forms.
*These include sharing nude photos, sex tapes, digital posters, derogatory photographs and comments that tend to lower the dignity of victims.
*It also include systematic insults and harassment of victims on social media groups; mostly Facebook and WhatsApp.
Who are the victims of cyberbullying?
Anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying. Victims of cyberbullying have been older-over 40s and younger-less than 16. However, most of the victims of cyberbullying in the Sierra Leone online community have been women; both in Sierra Leone and diaspora communities. Men have been bullied too.
Why are people bullied online?
People are bullied for different reasons.
*In the Sierra Leone online community, the reasons for cyberbullying include rivalry, love-relationship or marriage disputes, cheating, politics and blackmail.
*Love relationship rivalry is also a popular reason for cyberbullying. When this happens, usually one party (perpetrator) usually search and find photos of the other (victim) which are normally doctored to demean the victim while such photos are shared online.
*In most cases the bullying has emanated from a disagreement or dispute between intimate partners. The perpetrator normally share on social media nude photos that were voluntarily shared with them by their victims before the dispute.
*Victims have also been bullied to blackmail them and tarnish their reputation. Politicians and public figures are mostly bullied for the reason of blackmail.
Who are the perpetrators?
Anyone can be a perpetrator of cyberbullying. Perpetrators have come from different ages.
Most of the perpetrators of cyberbullying in the Sierra Leone online community have been women.
Men have been perpetrators too.
What are the impacts of cyberbullying?
*Cyberbully can cause emotional distress to victims
*It can also cause depression and anxiety
*Cyberbullying can cause victims to commit suicide
*Cyberbullying can cause hate, dissent and online chaos that could be transferred offline and distort the peace of communities and society.
How do we stop cyberbullying?
We can stop cyberbullying in our social networks by the following:
* Do not insult anyone in online debates
* Control your emotions and act rationally
* Do not use motherly invectives on social media
* Do not post nude pictures of any kind and of anyone online
* Do not share nude pictures or videos of any kind and of anyone
* Do not condone anyone who attempt to do any of the following above by either laughing using LOL, liking, giving thumbs up etc
* social media group admins should suspend or remove any member who continuously post nudes photos of other people.
* Try to caution anyone who repeatedly does any of the above.
* Send private messages, call and caution friends and followers who involve in bullying others online.
* Share this message to educate others about cyberbullying
* Do not assume your friends and followers know what they are doing is cyberbullying, educate them.
* Be mindful who you chat with online, who you accept as friend or who follows you online.
*Always do the necessary check; especially if you are not sure who the person is.
*Never accept a strange WhatsApp add. Check before you add anyone to your friends' list.
*Take all necessary precautions when you go into online chatrooms, dating sites etc.
*Be patient. Know the person you are falling in love with online. Don't assume safety because you are from the same country or speak the same language. Always fill in the check list beforehand.
Are there legal remedies to cyberbullying? How do we seek redress?
Yes. It is a crime to bully anyone online.
*You can report to the police or even sue someone for cyberbulling. The police will investigate and legal procedures follow to either stop your perpetrator from bullying you or file for a civil lawsuit.
*The law in most countries allows for recovery of damages when someone reveals embarrassing or intimate information; photos, comments and videos of another person. One can sue for psychological or emotional injuries.
*You can also sue for physical and mental damages. However the plaintiff must prove that the victim/s exhibit physical manifestation of the psychological pain.
*One can also sue for injunction to keep your alleged bully away from you.
*Whether you live in Sierra Leone or not, you can still sue for cyberbullying (see case:http://www.switsalone.com/21609_sierra-leone-man-on-trial-for-whatsapp-m...)
*If you live in Sierra Leone, you can use different sections of the 1991 constitution that deal with defamation and libel and also the 1965 public Order Act to file a civil law suit against a bully.
How do we use social media for a common good?
There are several ways we can use social media for self, communal and societal benefits. Among these are the following:
* Blog for social change: This may involving using your Facebook wall, Tweet or use any of the blogging sites; Wordpress, Blogger etc. to educate the public on a need in your community, a human rights issue, an unpopular abuse.
* Be a citizen journalist: You can use social media to inform the world as and when a breaking news happens in your presence. This will help alert authorities to save lives and prevent catastrophe.
*Religion: You can use your social media pages to share religious messages that will console, inspire or uplift the spirit of other people online.
* Be an educator: This may include using social media to teach people about a phenomenon that you are an expert in. This is particularly useful for young social media users. Use your experience in life and expertise for a social good.
Notes: I encourage advice, suggestions and recommendations to make this Guide better. Thank you sisters.