In several occasions, I was asked about the growing incident of cyberbullying in the Philippines, and what contributes to its growth. After receiving the last inquiry, I thought why not blog about it and share the random experimental survey we conducted on the last quarter of 2012.
M y f r a m e w o r k
update: the anti-bullying law has been signed, cyberbullying in the context of minors, has been defined
Cyberbullying refer to minors while cyber harassment and cyberstalking for adults. The three refers to a similar behaviour that use technology as medium to sow fear and strip the victim of self-worth and dignity. Stalking though, has an offline component. On Philippine context, media only refer to these as bullying, hopefully, when a law is passed, the terms will be standardised.
Likewise, bullies exist even before the cyber age, the technological advancement just gave them another tool to step up the attack at the same time remain anonymous.
When Cyberbullying in the Philippines is not
When you use digital media to express your thoughts about a person, an incident or opinion. This is your right guaranteed under the Philippine constitution. However, you can be part, unintentionally, of a cyber mob, because of a prevailing public opinion at hand.
When Cyberbullying in the Philippines is
From the IRR of RA 10627– when the following were used to (1) embarrass, strip the dignity, sow fear and incite the netizen to violence against another person and when (2) the act was repeated regularly:
- instant messaging
- social media
- online games
The Culture of Cyberbullying in the Philippines
In our local context, cyberbullying can happen in two ways:
(1) Away from the public knowledge or the day-to-day cyberbullying that goes unreported.
In a brief survey we conducted, these are our findings:
NATURE OF ATTACK (Top 3)
- Attack on reputation
- Attack on appearance
- Attack against the victims opinion
MANNER OF ATTACK (Top 3)
- Spreading photoshopped image
- Spreading videos that are supposedly private
- Poser/ Spreading lies
OTHER THREATS (Top 3)
- Threat on life and security
- Threat on family
- Cellphone (distant second)
REPORTED THE INCIDENT TO
- Parents (distant second)
- 53% Adult (18+)
- 47% Minor (17 and below)
- 57% Female
- 43% Male
- 79% were bullied by one person
- 21% were bullied by a group
And there’s another form of cyberbullying in the Philippines…
(2) Group bullying or cyber mob.
We have seen this form emerge in reaction to a troll, a video shared on the web, or a news item. This one is “public”, but seasonal in nature. In some instances, it also provide a semblance of regularity because it seeks justice for the aggrieved.
There are cultural determinants that contribute to cyber lynching. These determinants are not necessarily bad, but our strengths as a nation, can also become our weakness.
- The Philippine democratic culture- some have a notion that they can do or say what they want without accountability.
- Over emphasis on privacy- we can be anonymous, (buy a prepaid sim card, use an alias in social networking sites).
- Easy access to internet and social media- however, those who have issues but can’t express this face to face with the person, use social media to ventilate.
- Filipinos are highly engaging and opinionated
- The Filipino bias for the underdog and the aggrieved party
After having said all about our observation, allow me to share the laundry list of what I think can help reduce cyber lynching and bullying incidents in the Philippines. But these need everyone’s collective effort.
For Trad and New Media:
- Balance and objective reporting, minimize if we cannot avoid insinuations
- Craft a responsible social computing policy
- Include cyber wellness in employee program
- Include cyber harassment/stalking as a form of workplace violence
- Support, as a matter of CSR, digital wellness and safety advocacy
- To include responsible use of social media in either curriculum or non curriculum programs, it can be incorporated on values enhancement module.
- Educate parents about digital parenting.
- Educate nannies about basic cyber safety
- Involve parents in developing a comprehensive anti cyber bullying program and reporting procedure
- Develop a culture where students can open up and report actual cases of bullying.
- Transparency on bullying cases
For the government:
- Pass the cyber bullying bills
- Dep Ed thru public schools or Local Gov’t to initiate partnership with internet cafe’s to protect minors in exchange for referrals
- Dep Ed to institutionalise counselling services in public schools
- Increase your online intelligence
- Get involve on the digital life of your kids, engage.
- Send your household staff to cyber safety seminar
- Use online tools for digital parenting
- Informed engagement- get the two sides of the story
- Use social media as tool to add value.
- Respect the privacy of others
- Whenever possible, seek permission
- Except when a person involved committed a crime (now considered a news item) or the person is a public figure.
- If unsure, proceed sharing your content but withheld the identity of another person
If you’re a victim, read: What to do when cyberbullied
Do you have more ideas to keep our digital space safe for kids and everyone? Appreciate your thoughts.
Here are some of talks we held for students, parents, teachers and guidance counsellors.
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