The present modern world that young people are growing in is very different than the environments our parents and grandparents grew up. Nowadays, social media is the number one avenue for children and young people to be bullied and cyberbullying is one of many negative effects that kids from social media apps and platforms are victims to.
However, it turns out that LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) people are more likely to experience cyberbullying, with nearly 1/2 reporting this experience.
Cutter Law has provided an online guide that takes a deeper dive into the connection between social media and cyberbullying. This guide includes more information about the prevalence of cyberbullying, who is mostly affected, and means to prevent it.
The term bullying may refer to any type of unwanted, aggressive behavior enacted for the specific purpose of harming, humiliating, or intimidating another person. This behavior is frequently persistent and relentless resulting in severe emotional harm.
Although bullying in the traditional form has existed for quite some time, cyberbullying entered the scene a few years ago, arising from the introduction of smartphones, email, text messaging, and social media. Cyberbullying and social media provide the perfect storm for online intimidation. While cyberbullying often gains attention as a school-age issue, this problem is certainly not limited to children and teens. Cyberbullying and social media intimidation also occur in the workplace.
Cyberbullies often feel emboldened to attack their victims online anonymously, knowing they are unlikely to feel the threat of retaliation or punishment. Internet anonymity makes bullies feel invincible because they believe they cannot be identified.
A cyberbully is anyone who transmits any form of online communication for the purpose of deliberately embarrassing, frightening, harassing, or targeting another individual. In addition to harassing another individual, cyberbullying may also be used to inflict hate speech or cyberstalk someone. A cyberbully may utilize numerous forms of online communication to threaten, embarrass, or target another person.
Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Act
In response to cyberbullying, many countries, including Mauritius, enacted severe laws for online intimidation and harassment. The Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Act stipulates that:
“Any person who, individually or with other persons, commits cyberbullying, shall commit an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one million rupees and to penal servitude for a term not exceeding 20 years.”
For the purpose of the Act:
“cyberbullying” means any behaviour by means of information and communication technologies, which –
(a) is repetitive, persistent and intentionally harmful; or
(b) involves an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim and causes feelings of distress, fear, loneliness or lack of confidence in the victim, and which results in serious physical or psychological harm to the victim, disability of the victim or death of the victim;
The Mauritian Cybercrime Online Reporting System (MAUCORS) is a national online system that allows the public to report cybercrimes occurring on social media securely. It will also provide advice to help in recognising and avoid common types of cybercrime which takes place on social media websites.
MAUCORS is a key initiative under the Cybercrime Strategy and supports the National Cyber Security Strategy, which sets out the Government’s approach to combat cybercrime in Mauritius. MAUCORS is designed to facilitate cybercrime reporting and develop a better understanding of the cybercrime affecting the Mauritian citizens.
The information gathered through the system will also help in improving our understanding of the scope and cost of, and prevailing trends of cybercrime in Mauritius.
Cyberbullying and LGBTQIA+ people
In recent years, cyberbullying and social media have become intimately intertwined, highlighting the increasing negative impacts of social media. Cyberbullying through social media platforms has erupted into a serious public health concern. Health experts fear that cyberbullying may result in not only behavioral and mental health issues but could also lead to an increased risk of suicide.
Youth who are bullied may be at an increased risk of experiencing mental health disorders, including loss of interest in activities, feelings of loneliness, difficulty sleeping, changes in eating habits and anxiety and depression. Even more concerning, victims of bullying may be at an increased risk of engaging in self-harm behavior, thoughts of suicide, and even suicidal behaviors.
Individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ are also more likely to experience cyberbullying. Approximately 50% of LGBTQIA+ youth have reported they experienced some form of online harassment. This rate is much higher than the average. There also appears to be an increased risk for special needs individuals to become victims of cyberbullying.
At the YQA, we would be there to listen to you and offer you support such as counselling, tips on protecting yourself against cyberbullying, case management and liaising with the national authorities to tackle LGBTQIA+ related cyberbullying.
Young Queer Alliance