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A decade after I flagged online bullying as an emerging problem (before the Chris Lao and Amalayer’s unfortunate experiences), despite the enactment of relevant laws to address the problem, the challenge remain the same.

Good read:
What to do when cyber bullied
When Cyberbullying Is Not
How To Handle Trolls, Free Speech and Bashing

Before the high-profile cases of cyberbullying in the 2010 era, the author flagged online abuse as an emerging problem. He started a blog to advocate responsible and proactive use of social web to promote positivity and avoid negative online experiences. He won an award for this.

Chris Lao is now a lawyer and Paula Salvosa, a youth pastor. While both have moved on from their tragic experiences on online bullying,  the negative online experience continued with others.
In the last 10 years, Dep Ed released a Child Protection Policy, while congress passed an Anti-Bullying (for minors), Cyber Crime, Data Privacy and Anti Voyeurism laws. These, to address the growing issues relative to online abuse.
However, different forms of online bullying also emerged.
The obvious– we have online lending apps whose owners would resort to online shaming of those who failed to pay their cash loans. Ordinary debtors, likewise, resort to using social media to shame their debtee to force them to pay. Ex GFs/BFs would also launch a calibrated online bullying to bash the new partner of their exes. In corporate circles, employees use social media to make innuendos for a colleague or boss.
The political- The Philippines, being a hot bed of democracy in Asia, have used free speech not only to express their opinion, but also to silence the opposition. Hate or offensive speech and fake news has become a norm.
The new twist: Dark social – This one is more challenging to address because a convo that is violative of someones human rights is taking place inside group messaging platforms
Dark social is the term being used to refer to group messaging platforms like Viber, WhatsApp, or messenger. “Dark” was the chosen word not because it is evil, but because marketers cannot measure the effectiveness of a campaign inside these communities.
On the same note, when harassment and bullying happen inside these groups, authorities cannot track what transpires inside unless one of the members (of these communities) will spill the beans, or the platform will cooperate in an investigation and disclose the conversation.

Online bullying, the challenge remains

I recently published this blog’s top 10 articles of the decade, and the surprising result was 45% of posts that made it to the list are those related to bullying and cyberbullying or online bullying.
Furthermore, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey reported that 6 out of 10 Filipino kids are still experiencing bullying. While UNICEF reported that cyber violence affects almost half of children aged 13-17.

The silver lining

I’m not exactly sure this is positive because online bullying is still present, but Filipino netizens have become more resilient when they are being cyber mobbed. It appears that our tolerance level has leveled up.
While this is good, IMO, a culture of being disrespectful may not be corrected because people will be used to it.

What we can do?

I recently discovered that one of my blog entries was used as one of the references in a bill submitted to Congress, that would require senior high school students to undergo basic journalism. This, to educate young people on how to responsibly use free speech.
While I agree and believe that education is the first intervention to form or correct a behavior, older kids alone should not be the focus. GMRC should be reintroduced in all age levels, with emphasis and application on online engagements. In addition, parents, yayas and grannies, should also be educated to guide small kids in their screen time limit and online exploration.
This year, I will give more time to this side of advocacy. Aside from the ongoing collaboration, giving talks for parents, teachers, and older kids, I have some projects in the pipeline that hopefully, will make our anti bullying campaign animated, and bullying speeches creative. I will share more of this in the coming weeks.

Let us know in the comment section if you have a suggestion to reduce bullying and negative online experience. We will get in touch with you.


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