When Words Hurt!

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!

Remember these words we used to chant as a mantra in school when bullies said mean things to us? Verbal abuse is a powerful powerful weapon. In school yards, playgrounds, offices, even in our homes {domestic violence} – words hurt. We learn that as children we are still adjusting to everyone’s sensibilities and that we are untactful at times. So the easiest weapon then, was to let it roll off your back.

Times are a little different now. With the rise in technological advancements, social media has been booming. Every child of this age understands how to use a smartphone, tablet or computer, at a rather early age at that. Hiding behind a screen, makes even those who are meek, bolder. Thus giving rise to the most problematic trend in our country among the youth – ranking us in the top globally – Cyberbullying.

What is Cyberbullying?
Instead of face to face bullying, it’s bullying from behind electronic technology. Tagging inappropriate photos, tagging and name-calling publicly on the web and spreading rumours are some such examples.

What are the various types of bullying?

  1. Physical – which is violence on another person. Face to face, where a person, or gang of persons hit, pull, break or steal something from another person.
  2. Societal – which involves discriminating against another, spreading rumours or using peer pressure to exclude a person from friendships.
  3. Verbal – which is bullying using hurtful words, name-calling and threats on another person.
  4. Cyber – which is bullying by sending mean texts, prank calls, stalking someone through social media and shaming through the internet.

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Why is Cyberbullying a concern?
According to a survey conducted last year among four other countries, results showed that 81% of children from the age of 8 – 17 years had access to social media sites, with 22% being bullied online, 52% admitted to bullying others and about 70% admitted seeing, understanding bullying online.

Yes, the numbers are shocking, yes India ranks highest on these charts among the other countries. But the cause for concern is that Cyberbulling is particularly vicious. Being behind a screen gives everyone a false sense of security spewing hate or horrible comments, and with the victims spurious rebuttals, it becomes a game that gets engaged in longer and longer.

It affects the victims self esteems and at times affects social lives outside of the cyber world. In a few cases, victims have ended up physically hurting themselves because of this.

Another, main concern is that the level of aggression among the bullied is high, even among the aggressors. This aggression either is used physically on the abusers face to face or the victims turn bullies themselves. A horrific cycle of hurt.

What are the signs of being Cyberbullied?

  1. Avoids use of mobile devices or computers
  2. Suddenly deletes social media accounts
  3. Becomes moodier after receiving emails and/or messages
  4. Is more secretive than usual about online activities
  5. Is reluctant to go to school and avoids social contact
  6. Grades and school performance fall
  7. Appears more frustrated, impatient or angry than usual
  8. Has trouble sleeping

What can be done?

We all know the world is not a safe place, the cyber world is the same. The haunting reality is that the numbers are rising, the aggression online is tripling.

  1. Awareness needs to be built on the subject among students, parents and educators as well. It is prevalent and it affects everyone involved.
  2. Teaching safety is a priority. Children need to learn to protect themselves online and certain rules need to be in place set by the parents.
  3. Keeping communication lines open between parent and child helps when the child needs help about their online activities.

Here is a video that aptly discusses cyberbullying and what to do about it here.

 

When No Means NO!

We’ve heard whispers of it growing up. We’ve giggled in scorn over it at times. We’ve passed judgement without clearly understanding the facts. We’ve claimed ignorance in this because it never happened to us!

However, it isn’t fair to be part of this world, where we know injustices occur and expect to turn a blind eye in all the brash knowledge of a youth that it wont happen to us. It could. It could happen to someone you know and you could help them.

You dig into the archives and even Google it, you will chance upon statistic upon statistic. Sexual harassment is quite prevalent, it’s just not addressed. It happens to both women and men. It can be a woman or a man who sexually harasses. Unfortunately not many people come out and state it because of the embarrassment and scorn they know/feel they will face.

The workplace is a common place that this occurs at, and there are laws that are in place that protects an employee being harassed.

Sexual harassment is an – unwelcome sexual gesture or behaviour aimed or having a tendency to outrage the modesty of woman directly or indirectly. It includes:

  • Sexually coloured remarks

  • Physical contact and advances

  • Showing pornography

  • A demand or request for sexual favours

  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal/non-verbal – such as whistling, obscene jokes, comments about physical appearances, threats, innuendos, gender based derogatory remarks, etc.

Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman’s employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as ‘sexual harassment’ at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

Find out more about sexual harassment, not just as a means to arm yourself or a friend, but also in a way to shun those whispers to the background. Sexual harassment is a crime. It is not the victims fault. Sexual harassment is never encouraged. It is never entertained. It is feared by the victim. Judging a victim or passing along blame never helps anyone.

 

Do We Know HER Concerns in Today’s World?

The world today is moving at a faster pace. Socio-economic brackets have shifted, continents are closer; all this because of technological and developmental reforms. So really we are a lot more advanced, a lot more informed, and hence a lot more connected to every human being on this planet. However, though we have educated and ensured that more women’s concerns are addressed, we are not making too much of a dent in the advancement of the equality of the sexes.

Life is a lot more comfortable for your regular young person these days. Smart phones have overtaken the landline telephones – we know where, what or with whom a young person is with now. Constant electricity – that in the event of a shortage of power or perhaps a crisis, living without electricity becomes quite a drag. But these are all middle socio-economic problems, that are by no means a concern.

What truly is a concern is that the other young people do not have these extra luxuries we enjoy these days, in the urban and rural landscape. Smart phones are not that common there, neither is constant electricity. Then again, secure bathroom facilities are a rarity there, since houses are not built with a connected toilet. So what is the concern here? The fact that they don’t have the luxuries that the city folk enjoy? Or is the basic necessities that they are not afforded that we sympathise with and move along helplessly?

 A young woman in the rural area still believes she needs to follow the path set before her and not buck the hand that holds her down. A young man believes he has every right to exploit the women in his life, because they do not require respect.

The concern today is a very daunting topic. Do we know about the concerns of the young women in today’s world? Do we see their concerns? Do we hear more about their needs and the atrocities they face? Do we pass along the knowledge we have in an attempt to build a social movement? The answer sadly is . . . not that encouraging.