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Cyberbullying: the new global demon in public health
26. August 2018 at 13:38
The advent of the internet in the 90s has been one of the greatest inventions of modern history, if not the greatest. E-commerce, Blockchain, E-banking, Social media have certainly improved our lives.
“The Internet of Things” (IoT) is gradually taking form. The Social Media is probably the favorite child of the internet. Somehow, we have had to pay for these advancements, one way or the other and we are still paying.

According to “Bark Technologies”, Cyberbullying (also known as Internet bullying) dates back as early as 1999, it became popular in the mid-2000s in the U.S when 13-year old Tina Meier committed suicide after neighbours harassed her with an false Myspace account. The perpetrators were found guilty but acquitted later. This made the state of Missouri to pass a law against Cyberbullying.

In the late 2000s in Canada a teenager named Amanda Todd killed herself after describing in a youtube video, how a stranger convinced her to show her breast on camera and blackmailed her using it. The video had over 17 million views. This prompted the legislation on Cyberbullying by the government of Canada, only a few days after.

The number of cases have continued to rise ever since. In Taiwan, cyberbullying led to the death of a young entertainer (24 years old) known as Peng Hsin-yi “Cindy”, who committed suicide in her house after experiencing cyberbullying. In Cindy`s suicide note, she wrote that by her death, she hoped to arouse the public on Cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying isn`t limited to the use of social media, it can also occur in the form of “text messages”. After the UEFA Champions League Final of May (2018), a popular Spain International footballer “Sergio Ramos”, began receiving threats via text messages for committing an injurious foul on an opponent, it got so bad that the player had to cry out in the media, eventually changed his phone line.

In Africa, the phenomenon is becoming more familiar. Only a few years after, In South Africa, the case of another victim raised dusts, “Brandy Vela” committed suicide in front of her family after being bullied online.

In 2015, researchers at the University of Ibadan, (Olumide and her colleagues) reported that 53.9% of in-school adolescents in Ibadan attested to be aware of cyberbullying occurring in their school and amongst their friends. What we always thought was mile away is now at our door step.

According to Daily Trust, 80 Nigerians committed suicide between April, 2017 and May, 2018. The rising suicide rates among Nigerian youths/adolescents with increase in internet use suggests that cyberbullying can be a culprit in these unnecessary deaths. However, the slow pace of academic research in this subject area and has made data scarce like the blood moon.

In a recent interview of secondary school students in Lagos state, Nigeria, Ayo, a Youtuber and a student of “Agidingbi Grammer School”, lamented how colleagues, friends and some online random persons had mocked his content on “Youtube”.

Another student “Ope” from “Omole Grammer School” (Ikeja, Lagos) also admitted he had perpetrated cyberbullying numerous times. However, Nigeria and most African countries still do not have a law to checkmate Cyberbullying.

The implication is a pretty simple and straightforward one; “it is about time Africa and Nigeria acknowledged that Cyberbullying is a public health demon to be tamed and as such give it adequate attention and campaign”. More academic research should also be inspired in this area, across the African continent.

A 2012 UNICEF report, has this to say “the bullying of students in all of its form, including cyberbullying, can have significant and lifelong physical and mental health effects upon children, as well as many other personal and social consequences for both child victims and perpetrators”. This is why adequate provision for this alarming public health scare should now begin to feature in our national budgets.

Cite This Article As: Victor Oyelade. "Cyberbullying: the new global demon in public health." International Youth Journal, 26. August 2018.

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